Tag: safety

How to Secure Your Home; A Crime Prevention Checklist

How to Secure Your Home; A Crime Prevention Checklist

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Your home should be a place where you feel safe, a place where you don’t have to worry about the outside world. So what happens when there’s been a recent bout of burglaries in your area? That feeling of safety soon evaporates. Living in fear of intrusion is not something any of us should experience. Now you’re beginning to worry about how to secure your home. Fear not, our crime prevention checklist will offer a few tips to ensure you feel safe at night.

Secure Your Doors

It’s common sense that you should lock your doors. Securing your doors goes a little more in-depth than this though. Look at the sturdiness of each door. Are there any weaknesses in the hinges or locks? How strong are the frames? Could you open the door if you put enough force into it? Sometimes all that’s needed to strengthen a door is a fresh set of hinges. Has your front door got a peep hole? Has it got a reliable deadlock? When buying a front door, don’t substitute safety for an option which looks good. Don’t forget to look at your back door too, often these are weaker and easier points of entry.

Strengthen Your Windows

Windows can be an attractive point of entry for burglars. Hinges can be flimsy, glass can be easily broken and sometimes, windows are simple to open from the outside. Scrutinise what protection your windows offer. Consider purchasing fresh locks and even reinforcing the glass for added protection. Do this for every window in your house. Furthermore, never forget to lock your windows before leaving the house.

Security Systems

The best deterrent for burglars is a solid security system. Whether you’re choosing cameras, alarms or a fully monitored system should be decided by your individual needs. Often, a security system in plain sight is enough to deter any attempt of burglary. Obviously there’s a significant cost associated with this but it’s worth it in the long run.

Light Up

The majority of burglars in the UK will strike during the day. If however, they choose to operate at night, a motion sensor light is a huge deterrent. This means as soon as a possible intruder approaches the house, they’re basked in a bright light for all to see.

Burglar Alarms

Remove the Hiding Places

This is quite a crude tip but it’s effective nonetheless. Remove any hiding opportunity for intruders. This includes any large bushes or shrubbery close to your door. This type of vegetation looks great but will allow an intruder extra time to analyse the house before breaking in. It will also allow them to conceal their entrance to the building.

Get the Entire Household on Board

If you live in a full house, all it takes to leave your house vulnerable is for one person to neglect security. If you’re securing your house, get everyone in the household on board. This includes children. Ensure everyone is aware of the need to lock doors and windows when they leave.

Talk to the Neighbours

Get friendly with the neighbours, explain your concerns and ask for their vigilance too. If you’re going away for an extended period of time, ask them to look out for your property. A good relationship with those living nearby will allow you to share your concerns.

Leave Valuables Out of Sight

Burglars will look through your windows before entry. If they can see valuables, keys and important documents, you’re making yourself a target. Keep anything important away from prying eyes. This includes passports and banks cards – identity theft can reap huge rewards.

Get a Dog

This is one of the greatest deterrents for any intruder. Dogs make a noise when they don’t recognise you – something every burglar wants to avoid. Often the bark is scarier than the bite so even small terriers can be enough to scare an intruder away.

Don’t Be the Low Hanging Fruit

A thief won’t just look at your house. They’ll take a walk around the neighbourhood and opt for the easiest target. Don’t be the low hanging fruit on your street. Look at the security measures of other houses and question which property would be the easiest to target. If it’s yours, you have a big problem that needs your attention.

What Does a Burglar Look For?

Thankfully, numerous reformed burglars have discussed their trade. This gives us an insight into what a burglar actually looks for when targeting a house. If you know what attracts thieves, you can work to ensure you’re not a target. Here’s what a burglar looks for:

  • Dust or cobwebs on a deadlock keyhole – a clear sign it’s not used
  • Open windows
  • Dusty house alarm – a clear sign it’s not used
  • Family calendar on show – thieves love to see your schedule
  • Keys on labelled hooks
  • Important documents in sight
  • No car on the driveway – looks like you’re out
  • Ladders and tools at easy reach – most burglars won’t take tools with them, they’ll look for yours
  • Weak rear garden fencing

Moving home and concerned about crime in your new neighbourhood? A Property Detective report will offer key insights into an area’s crime rate. Other information available includes amenities, schools, neighbourhood demographics, noise pollution and more. Get your Property Detective report here.

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Should you have a legal right to know who lives in your street?

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Who lives in a house like this…and do you have a right to know whether potentially dangerous former criminals are housed nearby?

Just over three years ago, when we first launched Property Detective, we commissioned an in-depth survey that examined the factors and issues that not just influenced someone’s decision as to where they want to live, but changed the preconceptions they had about an area. In other words, what things change someone’s mind the most?

The results were quite startling, but expected in part: the two things that changed people’s minds about their dream home were the brand of supermarkets locally (which is a bit of a surprise) and the presence of a sex offender in the vicinity (which is not).

Concern for Public Safety

Of course, as undesirable as an ex-offender might be, one trusts that the relevant authorities have undertaken the appropriate checks and rehabilitative steps to ensure that whoever is re-homed in the local community is not a threat to residents and can successfully reintegrate themselves into life outside of prison or care.

Except, in some instances, that process goes tragically wrong, none more so than the recent, terrible story of 22 year-old Cerys Yemm, who was brutally murdered by former criminal Matthew Williams, who befriended her whilst staying at a B&B in Argoed, Caerphilly. The savagery of the offence is better covered in the many and various news reports rather than this blog, but suffice to say it represents an extreme failing of the system’s intent to protect the public from former offenders who may still present a risk of harm.

Why this is interesting for Property Detective is that it raises questions as to whether local residents have a right to know who lives in their neighbourhood – and what sort of people are relocating there, either through their own volition, or through the [enforced] care system or rehabilitive process.

Miss Yemm’s mother – Paula Yemm – today speaks in the press, questioning “who made decisions to place him [Williams] there and what, if any, risk assessments were completed…and what went wrong?

Alongside her, Mandy Miles – the owner of the Sirhowy Arms – has revealed that the records she keeps of occupants shows that the local council has placed a number of “serious” ex-offenders within her accommodation, without warning either her or anyone in the local community.

On the one hand, this makes objective sense according to the due process of the law. When an offender is released, logic dictates that they should be free to re-integrate into society as best possible, and that the community should be confident in trusting that the system that has been designed to initially punish and then rehabilitate them has done its job; that when someone is placed into local accommodation they are relocated less as an ‘ex-offender’, but more as a ‘new citizen’, with the aims of reintegration into mainstream life as swiftly as possible.

But that doesn’t stop the stigma, or in some cases the voyeuristic desire to know ‘who lives where’. One of the more controversial but often-used powers given to citizens in recent times is that ability to check with police whether a registered sex offender is located in their street, area…or whether someone with whom they have contact has a previous conviction for a sex offence. It’s an entirely reasonable response to what many perceive to be a parental ‘right’ (although it applies not just to parents) to behave in a protectionist way with regards one’s family. It’s a good thing, we feel.

But what else should a homeowner or tenant have a right to know about the area around them? Sex offenders maybe…but what about general offenders?

Is it reasonable to ask whether your next door neighbour has a criminal record for burglary 20 years ago, in order to assess the risk of them breaking into your garden shed and stealing your hedge trimmers?

Is it reasonable to ask whether the man across the street was once given an ASBO for playing loud music at all hours, in order to assess the potential harm from them cranking out trance music at 1am in the morning?

And what about the ever-blurring line between ‘offences’ and ‘propensity to offend’…regardless of whether that propensity is objectively measured or just a ‘gut feel’?

Property Research

One of the data items we hold at Property Detective is a substantial database of locations that we feel you would want to be made aware of it you were thinking of moving to an area, yet within that there are some locations that even we feel slightly uneasy about, like PRU (Pupil Referral Units), Bail Houses and Young Offenders Institutions. We discharge any sense of guilt by reference to our role as the starting point for your property research: our aim isn’t to tell you whether an area is safe to live, but really to inform you about things you ought to go on and investigate yourself. After all, the decision to live next to a homeless hostel is your decision, and yours alone.

But what about this category of ‘potentially problematic places’, as it was so-called on our site previously?

Should a homeowner or tenant have a right to ask whether the property next door is being used to re-house homeless people in their difficult but necessary process of being reintegrated into a position of self-sustainment, employment and self-care?

Should somebody have the right to feel concerned that the former toll house down the road is now used to accommodate pupils who have been excluded from mainstream education, with a troublesome past who need local authority care to help them back into education of training?

Should the local community have the right to question the location of a ‘bail house’ nearby, on the basis that their unjustified prejudices about the potential for reoffending give rise to a just cause for concern?

In almost all these cases, one feels that the answer ought to be ‘no’, except that answer is premised on a system that works efficiently, without error. And in the case of Cerys Yemm, we know that the system does not. It breaks, creaks, leaks and fails…and entirely expectedly, one might add: no human system is perfect and it is impossible to accurate predict human behaviour, no matter how hard-working the care system operates to support the most vulnerable in our society.

So if the safeguards don’t work, then a risk must surely exist, which justifies someone’s desire to know who lives near them.

Of course, there are shades of grey at work – and yesterday’s post about NIMBYism explores the delicate balancing act between justifiable self-interest and voyeurism – but our own experience of the hundreds or thousands – if not millions – of locations, places and premises within our database that might put a prospective home-mover ‘on alert’ suggests that we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t bring them to your attention.