How to secure your home
Home break-ins often occur because of opportunistic thieves. Last year there were over 265,000 reported home burglaries in England & Wales*. By following some simple home security advice, you can deter thieves from targeting your home.
There are many ways to protect your home. Our home security guide is designed to help you take steps to help you and your family feel safe.
Check your locks are secure
The first port of call for securing your home is to check what kind of lock you have on your doors. There are several options and some offer better protection than others.
Mortice locks fit into the door itself rather than being attached to the surface. Five lever mortice locks are recommended by Secured by Design, which is owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Rim locks are attached to the surface of a door and usually consist of a single bolt and a sliding lever.
They’re not as secure as mortice locks, so they’re usually used in conjunction with another type of lock.
Multi-point locks are held shut by two or more hooks and bolts. They bolt the door into the frame and lock at multiple points.
They can be harder for burglars to manipulate, offering added security.
Additional security bolts make it difficult for doors to be forced open.
They're a popular choice for patio doors.
It's a good idea to make sure all gates, sheds and garages have secure locks on them too, as these can be prime targets for thieves. It’s wise to secure these areas with a good padlock. There are two main kinds of padlock: open and closed shackle.
- Open shackle padlocks expose the majority of the shackle, making it easy to use and fit. The downside of this lock is that they’re far easier for thieves to break through.
- Closed shackle padlocks include built-in shoulders, so almost all of the shackle is enclosed within the lock. This makes them more secure, and less likely to be broken by burglars. However, they’re not as easy to use as open shackle locks, so they might not always be practical.
Whichever kind of lock you go for, make sure that it meets the standards UK insurers usually refer to. More information can be found at BSI Group. Look out for the BSI Kitemark which will be engraved in the lock.
Traditional home security systems
Burglar alarms are one of the most reliable ways to secure your home and deter thieves. There are numerous kinds of alarms, all of which offer differing levels of protection, so you can choose the one which best suits the needs of you and your family.
- Most common type of burglar alarm
- Activated when one of the sensors is tripped and makes loud noise designed to scare intruders away
- Presence of alarm outside your home can act as a deterrent
- Doesn’t notify you if your alarm goes off
- Record an automated message
- You’ll be contacted if your alarm goes off
- Can nominate trusted friends/family members to be contacted
- Uses your landline
- Similar to speech diallers, you’ll be contacted if the alarm is triggered
- Works using mobile networks
- Good choice if you don’t have a landline
- Operated by your alarm provider or a separate company
- If your alarm is activated, the receiving centre will call to let you know
- Monthly or annual fee
- Police will be notified if your alarm goes off
- Depending on whether there are other high priority issues, police may not respond
- If you have three false alarms (four in Scotland) police will stop responding
- Monthly or annual fee
Home alarm advice
Once you’ve decided on an alarm and had it installed, it’s worthwhile remembering the following:
- Always activate it when leaving your property
- Does it have anti-tamper protection? If not, speak to your alarm provider about installing this
- Service it at least once a year and test it every month
- Keep your PIN safe
- How sensitive is the alarm? If you have pets, you don’t want to worry about them accidentally setting it off. Speak to your alarm provider about where to place motion sensors if you have pets
- Speak to your neighbours to let them know you’re installing an alarm
- It’s also a good idea to talk to your alarm provider about ways to minimise the risk of false alarms
Smart home security systems
A smart home security system offers similar protection to traditional security systems, except it’s connected to the internet.
The helpful technology uses a combination of wireless security cameras, motion sensors and sirens that detect when a door or window has been opened. It even alerts you if someone is in your drive, garden or outside your front door. Many include microphones so you can call out and let the potential intruder know you’ve seen them.
And, it can all be done via your mobile, tablet or laptop – that is smart. You can monitor the interior and exterior of your home in real time.
Do your research properly and make sure that the smart home security system you buy offer adequate security for your home.
Install security lighting
Motion-sensor security lights can also be a very effective deterrent for intruders. Placing lights strategically around your property can help alert you to anyone approaching your home. It can also make potential thieves reconsider a break-in attempt.
Infrared lights are the most common form of motion-sensitive lighting. They turn on when the Passive Infrared Sensor (PIR) is activated.
Security lights are particularly useful in high-risk areas. These include:
- Areas that aren’t overlooked by neighbours
- Areas that aren’t visible from the road
- Patio doors
- Flat roofs
- Back doors
When installing your security lights, mount the detector at least two metres from the ground to make it more difficult to tamper with. Be aware, that animals can set off motion sensors, so check that it’s not too sensitive. Remember, if the lights are too bright or easily triggered, they could cause issues with your neighbours.
How to secure windows in your home
Windows are often used as a point of entry or exit by burglars. The home security advice in the UK is to invest in windows that will offer as much protection as possible.
You can make your windows more secure by taking the following measures:
- Check that your windows are synced up with your alarm system
- Add key-operated locks to your windows where possible. This is especially important for windows on the ground floor
- If your windows open more than 60cm, consider adding a second lock to prevent burglary
How to secure doors in your home
To keep the entrances to your home safe and secure, you might also want to consider:
- Investing in external doors that are robust and at least 4cm thick
- Fitting a door bolt or chain and installing a peephole if you don’t already have one fitted
- Always keeping the chain secured if you’re opening your door to a stranger
How to secure your home when you’re on holiday
If you’re going away for more than a few days, you might be wondering how to secure your home. It’s wise to take precautions, as your home is more likely to be burgled when it’s left empty.
Taking the following precautions can help secure your home and leave you free to enjoy your holiday:
- Use a timer switch to turn on lights in the evening and turn them off again when you’d normally go to bed
- Stop newspaper deliveries and post piling up by using the ‘Keep Safe’ service from the Post Office
- Ask a neighbour to park their car in your driveway
- See if a friend or family member can house sit or pop in every couple of days
- If you’re going away in the summer months, ask a neighbour if they can mow your lawn
Smart home security technology lets you keep a constant eye on your property, even when you’re on holiday. They will also notify you alerts. It can be a helpful deterrent – even if you’re as far away as Spain.
How to prevent burglary
As well as securing your home with quality locks and alarms, there are other simple actions you can take to protect your belongings from thieves.
Mark your valuables
By marking your possessions, you can make them less attractive to a thief. Burglars know that marked items can be traced by the police which makes them harder to sell.
Electronic marking allows you to register items like bikes. This means that if they’re stolen, they’re more likely to be returned as you can easily be identified as the owner.
You can use a UV pen to mark items. Simply write your postcode and house number on any valuables and add a sticker to warn burglars they’re marked.
SmartWater marking is similar to using a UV pen but more difficult to remove. It will help the police identify you as the owner in case of theft.
Keep keys out of sight
Keys and other valuables left by a door or a window are very tempting for thieves. It’s simple to reduce the risk of theft by keeping them out of sight.
You should be careful not to leave spare keys in common hiding places, like under the doormat. Burglars looking for easy access to a property will check these locations first.
Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
Neighbourhood Watch schemes can be a great resource when it comes to keeping your home secure. Working in conjunction with the police, Neighbourhood Watch can:
- Prevent and reduce opportunities for crime
- Offer a watchful eye over your home if you’re away
- Offer reassurance to local residents
Watch out for bogus callers
Always be careful when opening your door to strangers. Burglars often pose as visitors such as tradespeople and will attempt to gain entry to your property by impersonating legitimate callers.
Remember, they can sound very convincing, so be on your guard. You should always be wary of callers who show up unannounced and make sure you always ask for ID that shows they are who they’re claiming to be.
If an unknown person rings your doorbell, take the following steps:
- Before answering the door, make sure all of your doors are locked and your windows are shut. It might be a distraction while an accomplice forces entry at the rear of the property
- Take a look through the peephole or window to check who’s at your door - and put the door chain on before opening it
- Ask for an identity card when you open the door. It’s a good idea to check the number listed on the card against the one you find listed online for the company. Any legitimate tradesperson won’t mind you taking these measures
How to prevent burglary in an apartment
Although there are fewer ways for a thief to break into an apartment, it’s still worthwhile thinking about how you can secure your flat.
- Always check that your communal front door locks behind you
- Don’t buzz anyone into the building that you don’t know
- If someone says they’re expected by one of your neighbours, be wary, and don’t let them in if you’re unsure of their identity
- Does your door entry system have both an intercom and a camera? If not, speak to your landlord or property management agency. This kind of door system is more secure as you can both see and talk to the person ringing the buzzer
- If you live on a ground floor flat, secure your door and windows with quality locks
- Install a chain and peephole in your front door
- Install smart home security technology for your front door
Protect your valuables with home insurance
Now you know how to deter thieves, you may want to think about how a home insurance policy can protect your home if the worst was to happen.
A home insurance policy can help to cover the costs of replacing any stolen items in the event of a break in. Find out more about what’s covered in our contents insurance policy, and see how we can help give you peace of mind.
Sainsbury’s Bank Home Insurance is arranged and administered by Sainsbury’s Bank and is underwritten by a carefully selected range of insurers. When you get a quote, we will tell you who the insurer is before you buy the policy.
Check out more of our handy guides for hints and tips on all things home insurance.