Tag Archives: security systems

Ten Simple Tips To Make your Shed or Outbuilding More Secure

Shed and Outbuilding burglary is a continuing to be a problem in the areas we cover on the whole, they tend to make easy targets and it needn’t cost the earth to make them more secure.

Below are ten simple tips to make your shed or outbuilding more secure. There are a couple of issues with sheds and outdoor buildings that many people may not realise; the total value of everything they contain is likely to be far higher than you might at first think and secondly, it is likely to contain many tools and implements that an opportunist burglar could use to enter your home.

1. Consider the approach to your shed or outbuilding, do you shut/lock access gates?

2. Preventing unwanted visitors entering your property is what you need to achieve, but nobody wants their home looking like a prison surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, and that is not necessary. Mother nature provides an environmentally friendly, attractive and particularly effective alternative – the prickly bush, these can be extremely effective when planted around perimeter areas. Don’t go for height particularly at the front as this could hide unwanted visitors on your property from sight. A high hedge can be great for an opportunist theft as they are confident of not being seen while they are up to no good.

3. There are many forms of driveway alert that sound in the house when someone enters your drive these start from as little as £30.

4. Consider motion sensitive outdoor lighting. During the hours of darkness lighting can not only be a comfort factor for the occupant, it is an excellent deterrent for would be opportunist burglars who clearly do not want to be seen. Be sure to fit them out of reach so they cannot be tampered with and if they are bright halogen lights, not pointing directly at neighbours houses so as to cause a nuisance.

5. Starting with the outside of each shed or building, ensure the walls are as secure as they can be, mend any holes that someone could crawl through or make bigger etc.

6. Install the best security locking devices possible, ensure that padlocks and fittings are sturdy and function properly, and if an outbuilding leads directly into your home make sure that the connecting door is especially secure. Replace and properly secure any cracked windows, and consider adding wire mesh or grilles.

7. Secure any particularly valuable items with padlocks and chains to ground or wall anchors. If you use high quality security it would necessitate a thief having to use a noisy angle grinder rather than relatively silent bolt croppers.

8. Consider locking other smaller valuable tools items such as chainsaws etc to the same ground or wall anchors at least locking lots of items together to make them very difficult to move.

9. Consider CCTV or if that is beyond your budget, you could consider a high quality dummy CCTV camera.

10. Consider an alarm, these can range from a simple shed alarm which sell for less than £10 through to a properly installed alarm system either as part of or separate to the house alarm.

 

Just in case the worst does happen despite your best efforts, check that you have sufficient insurance cover for your sheds and outbuildings and that tools and equipment of significant value is covered. Ensure you comply with your insurers minimum requirements, such as locking ATVs to ground anchors as otherwise your insurance may not pay out. Make a note of the serial numbers of valuable tools and equipment, Mark them in some way either with a property marketing solution or by putting your postcode in a way that cannot be easily removed. Always consider asking the advice of your local reputable locksmith who should be able to assist with general security advice as well as product specific advice and will offer an installation service should you require it.

10 Simple Things To Help Secure Your Home For Under £100

We were recently challenged to come up with 10 simple things to help secure your home for under £100.  At first it seemed an impossible task, however always up for a challenge we set out with shopping list in hand and were rather surprised myself to spend just £88.14 leaving £11.86 change out of the £100.

Security is like many things, on the whole you tend to get what you are prepared to pay for and sometimes cheap security offers little or no security or may let you down in some way just when it is needed, however with a little knowledge you needn’t pay the earth and most expensive is not always best.

We have assumed that you already have good sufficient locks on all of your ground floor doors.

Always read you insurance company’s minimum requirements for security (Usually they will require at least 5 lever British Standard lock or equivalent on the final exit point for example)

You may not be aware that if someone enters your house using a key, insurers may not pay out. It is always sound advice to change the locks when you move house so you can account for all of the keys.

The vast majority of residential burglaries are opportunist, what I mean by that is a burglar will walk along a street and look at the houses. Their aim is to get in and out as quickly and quietly as possible without being seen and therefore minimise the chance of being caught red handed.

This means that although there is no such thing as 100% security (and anyone that sells you that is wrong), every little thing that you add that will cause a burglar to make more noise, take more time or be more visual getting in will put them off. The chances are that if you have sufficient security they will in all likelihood burgle a house nearby that presents them less of a challenge.

With regards the items we have selected below, some are very good purchases that will do what they are meant to do but others may not to withstand the test of time and could let you down just when you need them therefore some examples below we would usually recommend something of better quality but our challenge was to find ten things for less than £100.

Our advice is to find a local trustworthy locksmith who will undertake a security survey for you. They will offer sound advice some of which you can undertake yourself and some are best left to a professional to undertake.

We have not used anything found on auction sites such as EBay as that might be dammed as cheating all of the products were found from normal retailers that are easily found.

There are many things that can be done at no cost whatsoever which I will cover in another blog in the near future.

Padlock and Hasp – Approx £11

There are a couple of issues with sheds; you probably don’t realize the total value of everything it contains if it were to be broken into and secondly it is likely to contain many tools and implements that an opportunist burglar could use to enter your home.

Motion sensor shed alarm – £6.73

The cheapest I could find on the internet.  Following on from the link above this will add an additional layer of protection to you shed or garage.  Noisy alarms will often cause the opportunist burglar to leave rather quickly.

Window locks – £7.29 

Window locks are not normally this cheap but I struck lucky and found some in a sale. Most insurers insist as part of minimum security requirements that you have window locks on all ground floor windows and any accessible from the ground floor outside. If you do not have these and you are burgled, even if the window was not a point of entry, if an insurance assessor comes out they may refuse the claim.

 Crimestoppers Property Protector – £19.99

One of my more expensive purchases but nevertheless worthwhile, this enables you to mark about 200 of your valued possessions with a unique coded fingerprint registered to you.  Property coming into possession of police is scanned using special scanners.  This means if items of value to you are marked there is a much greater chance of you being reunited with them if they are ever stolen.

Outdoor Motion detector light – £10.34

During the hours of darkness lighting can not only be a comfort factor for the occupant, it is an excellent deterrent for would be opportunist burglars who clearly do not want to be seen. Be sure to fit them out of reach so they cannot be tampered with and if they are bright halogen lights, not pointing directly at neighbors houses so as to cause a nuisance.

7 Day digital plug in timer – £7.33

During the hours of darkness at night time most opportunist burglars will move on to another premises rather than risk being caught where a home owner is indoors. Having one or two lights programmed to came on an off during the hours of darkness for instance the lounge during the evening followed by the bedroom a little later, can help to give the appearance that someone is at home,.  Some timers are able to vary the times slightly each day to increase the randomness a little.

Low Energy 15w Sensor Bulb – £10.34

If you have outdoor lights, these bulbs are not only energy saving, they automatically come on at dusk and go off at dawn so you don’t have to remember to switch them on and off all of the time.  They will always come on at dusk and go off at dawn whether you are home or away.  The light in itself can be a deterrent during darkness and the fact that they always come on at night makes it harder for a would be opportunist burglar to determine whether you are home or not.

Hawthorn Shrub – £1.29  

Preventing unwanted visitors entering your property is what one needs to achieve, but nobody wants their home looking like a prison surrounded by high walls and barbed wire, and that is not necessary. Mother nature provides an environmentally friendly, attractive and particularly effective alternative – the prickly bush.

Pricky plants make very effective deterrent hedges. Don’t go for height particularly at the front of the house as this could hide unwanted visitors on your property from sight.  A high hedge can be great for an opportunist theft as they are confident of not being seen while they are up to no good.

Suitable plants can also be positioned strategically in order to deter people climbing drainpipes or to protect vulnerable (e.g. ground floor) windows. Prickly plants act as a psychological and physical barrier intended to make your property a less suitable target to the opportunistic thief.

 Draper Hand operated Shredder – £6.84

Identity fraud has been well publicised in theUKand appears to still be growing.  I am extremely careful with my banking documents and just today have discovered someone has correctly entered all of my credit card details to make a purchase from a Chinese website.  Putting any financial or personal documents into the waste un-shredded is just inviting potential problems, therefore a shredder is on my absolute must list.

Basic Magnetic door/window alarm – 6.99

This very basic magnetic alarm can be fitted to doors or windows that may be vulnerable and has it’s own inbuilt siren when the contact is broken.  These devices might be a good idea to take on holiday if you are at all worried about hotel or villa security as they can be fixed in seconds with double sided tape.

 

How to Beat the Burglars this Winter

How to beat the burglars this winter by Christopher Middleton appeared recently in the Telegraph, below are some interesting excerpts:

Who better than a burglar to point out the weaknesses in your home security? Christopher Middleton meets a reformed criminal to get the inside track on locking up this winter.

Winter is peak time for break-ins, with longer nights providing more cover. The recession hasn’t helped, either. Burglaries are up from 651,000 in 2009/10 to 701,000 in 2011/12. Now the Metropolitan Police has launched an Autumn Nights awareness campaign, alerting people to the increased risk of burglary in the run-up to Christmas.

This is a subject Michael Fraser is intimately familiar with, having experienced it from the other side of the fence. He spent his childhood breaking into houses, stealing everything from cash to credit cards to televisions (small ones only, burglars like to travel light).

He was saved when a factory owner gave him a job to keep him out of prison. Michael turned his back on a profitable life of crime (one burglar was recently reported to have stolen £75,000 worth of goods in one year). He now earns an honest living as a security adviser for burglar alarm and insurance firms.
“Trust me, the last thing a burglar wants is a confrontation with the owner,” says Michael. “But if he is forced into one, he may well panic, then all hell can break loose.

“The best strategy is to keep them out of your house in the first place.”
Which is not as hard as it seems. We might like to think that we were unlucky to be burgled, that it was just a matter of our house being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the fact is that far from the sophisticated cat burglars depicted in films such as The Thomas Crown Affair or Entrapment, burglars are mostly opportunistic. Many homes give off blatant “burgle-me” messages to the passing thief and that message doesn’t have to be wide-open windows and unlocked doors.

“It may seem strange, but a burglar is far more likely to bypass a house where the front gate is shut and go for a house, where the front gate is open,” explains Michael.

“The average burglar is always looking for signs. If a front gate is shut, it is likely that the homeowner is security conscious. The same applies if you have two locks on your front door.

“But if your gate is left swinging wide open, or you only have one lock, you are probably a bit lax. And if that applies around the front, it is likely to apply doubly around the back of your house.”
You should also think outside the home, he adds: your garden can tempt criminals, too.

“I was always looking for houses which had lots of tall trees and bushes to conceal me. Or I would look for corner houses, where there weren’t any neighbours who might spot what I was up to.”

Nor should we kid ourselves that burglars will be put off by the presence of pets.

“For a start, a cat flap seriously weakens a door,” adds Michael. “On top of which, you know that people who have pets often don’t turn on their burglar alarms because they don’t want their cat or dog to set it off. So when you see a sign saying ‘Beware of the dog’, you don’t walk past. Instead you think, ‘This could be the one for me’.”

Other tell-tale signs are garden tables and chairs that you can stand on to climb through a window, plus tools that you can use to break in.

“Of paramount importance to any burglar is the ability to get in and out of the house as quickly as possible,” he says. “Two minutes in the house should be long enough. The first thing you do is to put a milk bottle on the inside of the front doorknob. Then if the owner comes into the house, the bottle smashes and alerts you.

“The key thing is to have your escape route worked out in advance. These days you can go online and look at maps to plan your entry and exit.”

What to do if you have been burgled:
Look for the spare keys It is the first thing you should do. Burglars often steal your spare keys, so they can come back in a few days’ time to really clear you out. If you even suspect the keys are missing, change the locks.

Contact the police they will give you a crime number to quote in an insurance claim. They should also arrange for a crime prevention officer to advise on future security measures and give you a contact at Victim Support.

Secure the property
Once the police have been, repair all the doors and windows. Call your insurance company to ask if they offer a 24-hour service.

Take precautions against a repeat
Once a burglar has been inside your home, and got the hang of the layout, it gives him the confidence to return. You need to upgrade your security measures to thwart him. Clearly, it can only pay to be prepared. So as the nights draw in, make sure you scrutinise your home as a burglar might. That way you can be sure to stay one step ahead of even the nimblest criminal.

An ex-burglar’s advice to homeowners on how to make the bad guys bypass your home:
Start with the front door because that is what burglars do. If your front door looks tatty, or if it only has one cylinder lock (e.g. Yale), instead of a cylinder lock plus deadlock (mortise), it will catch a thief’s eye.

Don’t skimp on the alarm – buy one from a reputable, well-known company, burglars bypass the cheap systems and spot dummy alarms a mile off. For maximum security, alarms fitted with cameras allow you to view your home from your computer.

Defend your alley – Make sure your side gate does not have a convenient handle for the thief to step onto and over. Put some trellis on top, too. Burglars hate it because it snaps.

Keep things hidden – To the passing burglar, your sitting room is like a shop window. Use curtains and blinds, so it is difficult to see in. At the same time, make sure your window locks are visible.

Cage your letterbox on the inside – It is standard practice for burglars to put a long stick through your letterbox and “fish” your keys off the hall table. Not only will they be able to break into your house, but they will be able to steal your car, then take away more of your possessions.

Lock up your tools – View your shed or garage as an extension of your house. Put at least a couple of locks on the outside, plus wire on the window, so thieves can’t use your garden spade or fork to prise a door open.

10 reasons why home alarm companies suck

We came across this blog about why a lot of home alarm companies such at http://www.homealarmmonitoring.org/year/10-reasons-most-home-alarm-companies-suck/

We are glad to say that not one of the ten reasons apply to Safe and Secure 24/7 Locksmiths & Security but would be happy to dicuss this further via the blog or in person

Consumer reporting websites and social networking feeds alike are rife with complaints from homeowners regarding their home security company. From incompetent technicians to poor customer service policies, there are no shortage of issues for most clients to choose from. Here are ten of the reasons why the bulk of home alarm companies absolutely suck.

  1. Lengthy Contract Terms – Customers are often surprised to find that the terms of their contract stipulate up to five years of service; as web and telephone-based sales become more common than meeting an agent, “electronic signatures” take the place of physically signed contracts, and many telemarketers neglect to disclose the things that would be in the fine print.
  2. Harassing Sales Calls – Choosing not to renew a contract or even opting to go with another company after shopping around can open homeowners up to months of calls from persistent salespeople.
  3. Proprietary Equipment – After incurring the expense of purchase and installation, most people understandably assume that their system belongs to them and can be used as they see fit. However, systems are almost always proprietary, or “locked out” from use by other companies.
  4. Billing Tactics – Reported instances of continued automatic billing after the cancellation of an account are, unfortunately, relatively common. Some customers have had to go so far as closing the bank account or credit card attached to the security account to put a stop to unauthorized billing.
  5. Misleading Sales Spiels – Another common problem encountered by homeowners is the misleading sales pitch from home alarm companies; what begins as a free installation and free system quickly snowballs into hundreds or even thousands of dollars in start-up fees, with unappealing aspects of the contract swept under the rug.
  6. Automatic Renewal of Complicated Contracts – Contracts with a home security company can be exceedingly complicated; as an added bonus, many companies institute an automatic update policy so that customers are enrolled in another term of service without ever being informed.
  7. Monitoring Problems – The sole reason for installing a security system and paying annual fees is to provide homeowners with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they’re protected from misfortune; still, it’s not uncommon to find out that systems have gone unmonitored or disturbances were not reported by the alarm company.
  8. Lackluster Technicians – One service call can quickly turn into a handful, which is no picnic when appointments are scheduled so broadly. “Morning” or “afternoon” windows create the necessity for a half-day’s cleared schedule.
  9. Faulty Equipment – In addition to having a reputation for shoddy workmanship from technicians, many home monitoring companies have come under fire for the sub-par equipment they provide at a premium price.
  10. Poor Customer Service – The single biggest compliant about most home alarm companies is that their customer service is completely incompetent or unfriendly. On some consumer reporting sites, clients even give each other the inside track on helpful employees, sharing extension numbers for the few people who make an effort to resolve issues.

While certainly not indicative of all security service providers, these complaints are common enough to be considered problematic within many. Careful research before deciding on a company is the best way to protect yourself from the people who are supposed to be protecting your home.