Top 14 home security tips

Let’s talk about home security. As we’re starting to go out and about more, it’s a good time to check that our homes are safe and secure while we’re away. Here are some simple home security tips to help you deter burglars and keep your home and its contents safe.

Let’s talk about home security. As we’re starting to go out and about more, it’s a good time to check that our homes are safe and secure while we’re away. Here are some simple home security tips to help you deter burglars and keep your home and its contents safe.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
9
minute read
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Posted 6 JANUARY 2020 Last Updated 6 MAY 2022

How to secure your home while you’re out 

Although the number of burglaries fell considerably during the coronavirus pandemic, with most of us spending much more time at home, the police recorded over 350,000 burglaries in England and Wales in the year leading up to the first lockdown in March 2020. As we head back to the office and away on our holidays again, will our homes be safe while we’re gone?

It’s a good time to check that your home security is up to scratch. And as a bonus, improving your home’s security could help save you money on your home insurance. Here are our top tips for keeping your home secure while you’re out.

1. Invest in a safe 

Don’t worry too much about your expensive TV. The items most likely to be stolen in a burglary are wallets, purses, cash and cards – all objects that can fit into a safe. Other commonly stolen items, such as jewellery and watches, can also be stored securely in a safe, as well as any portable electronic devices and gadgets you’re not taking out with you. A safe could be a good investment and far more secure than hiding possessions in predictable places like your underwear drawer.

2. Keep your valuables hidden 

A safe is best, but if you’re not ready or able to invest in one, it’s wise to keep any valuables out of sight and hidden away. Thieves know all the common hiding places, so try to think outside the box and come up with an inventive solution.

Remember to protect any valuables you take out and about with you from theft too, with personal possessions cover.

3. Keep your keys safe 

Don’t forget to keep your house keys safe too. You don’t want to tempt potential burglars, so keep your keys out of sight – even when you’re at home.

If you need to leave a spare set of keys outside, don’t hide them under a rock or plant pot in the garden, invest in a key safe – but make sure it’s one accepted by your insurance provider. If a burglar finds your hidden spare key and uses it to break in, there might be no sign of forced entry and you may not be able to claim on your home insurance.

4. Improve your door and window locks 

Make sure you have secure locks on all your windows and doors, especially those on the ground floor. Do your research and find out which type of lock would be the best for your home. When you’re doing your rounds, don’t forget about any patio doors or French doors – make sure they’re locked when not in use, and see if you need to upgrade the locking system to make them more secure.

Consider adding hinge bolts to protect the outside of your doors from force too. Contact the Master Locksmiths Association for advice, and be sure to let your insurance provider know if you do decide to change your locks.

5. Invest in outbuilding and shed security

Think about what you have stored in your garage and shed, and ensure you've secured it properly. Many of the items we commonly store in our garages and sheds, such as garden tools, power tools, bicycles and sports equipment can be attractive to thieves – plus the Metropolitan Police warn that thieves will often go to your shed first to find tools with which to break into your home.

To secure your shed and other outbuildings

  • Get a decent padlock to secure your outbuildings and keep them locked when not in use.
  • Look for any weak spots that a thief might use to break in, such as windows and hinges. You could cover windows with wire mesh or grills to make them more secure.
  • Consider installing a battery-powered alarm that will sound a loud siren if the door is tampered with.
  • Store your tools inside a secured locker or box to further deter any thieves that do manage to break in.
  • Chain up your bike so it can’t be easily stolen by any thieves that make it inside.

Check your home insurance covers your shed and other outbuildings, and consider adding extra cover if not.

6. Try security cameras

If you want to add an extra level of security to your home, security cameras are a great way of monitoring activity, alerting you to any suspicious goings-on and even pre-empting break-ins. Many modern security camera systems have WiFi capability so you can monitor them through your smartphone, and if you have the DIY skills, you could even install them yourself.

7. Join Neighbourhood Watch

Create or join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme with your neighbours. Around 2.3 million households across the UK are already involved. Neighbourhood Watch schemes encourage neighbours to create safer and more connected communities by collectively addressing concerns about local crime and anti-social behaviour, sharing knowledge and coordinating with local police. Visit the Neighbourhood Watch Association to find a local scheme or for advice on setting up your own.

Joining a scheme could not only help keep your home safe – it may reduce the cost of your home insurance.

8. Get a home alarm

Invest in a home security system to deter thieves and help lower the cost of your home insurance. Depending on the system, burglar alarms will sound if they’re triggered by an external door or window being opened, or by an internal motion sensor. The loud alarm could alert your neighbours to a break-in and hopefully even scare off the potential thief. The alarm might also connect automatically to a private security service that will alert the police or, in the case of modern smart security systems, notify you on your smartphone.

9. Remotely control your lighting

Lights turning on and off in your home might be a deterrent to thieves on the lookout for an unoccupied home. Consider installing remote-controlled security lighting. This allows you to set timers for lights to go off while you’re away. With smart lighting systems, you can also control your lights when you’re away from home via an app on your phone.

10. Install outside lights

Consider adding some security lights outside for when it gets dark in the evenings or early mornings. Movement-sensitive lights may help deter thieves but won’t unduly disturb neighbours.

11. Make sure your garden is secure

If you have expensive furniture, a hi-tech BBQ or even an external oil tank in your garden, it could be an attractive, easy option for thieves. Even if there’s not much out there, it could still be used by thieves as an access point to get inside.

To make your garden more secure, you could consider some tactical planting and landscaping to make your garden less accessible to thieves and install padlocks on any rear or side gates. It’s also a good idea to make sure any security cameras or outside lights you install cover your garden as well as your home. Read our guide for more garden security tips.

12. Don't make it obvious when you are not at home

Be careful about broadcasting your whereabouts on social media. Avoid posting pictures from holidays or evenings out in real time. It could potentially alert thieves to your absence. You can always post them once you get back home. Read our guide to protecting your home while you’re away.

Before you go away, remember to cancel any deliveries that could alert a burglar on the lookout for unoccupied properties. You can also use the Royal Mail Keepsafe service to hold onto your mail safely for up to 100 days while you’re away, for a fee.

13. Regularly check and update your security

It’s important to take the time every now and then to make sure all the locks on your home and any other security systems you have installed are working correctly. Locks can degrade or warp over time, burglar alarms need to be tested and serviced yearly by a professional, and security cameras could easily become dislodged or the view obscured by growing plants.

When you’re getting ready to head off on your holidays, do a thorough check of all your windows and doors, your shed and other outbuildings, and make sure cameras and any motion sensors are charged and working properly.

As security systems become more and more advanced, so do burglars. To keep on top of your home security, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s out there and consider upgrading if you find a solution that better protects your home.

14. Get home insurance

There are many ways to better protect your home and make it less enticing to would-be burglars and thieves, but for peace of mind, it’s nice to know that your home contents are protected if you are the victim of a break-in. Contents insurance could cover the cost of replacing your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged in a fire or flood.

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Frequently asked questions

What are British Standards Locks?

The British Standards Institute (BSI) is the UK’s national standards body. BS3621 locks (as they’re known) meet the BSI standards for being resistant to thieves. Some home insurance providers will require you to have BS3621 locks installed on your home before they will insure you. Find out more about the insurance requirements for house locks.

How do digital door viewers work?

Digital door viewers or smart doorbell cameras allow you to see and communicate with whoever’s at your door before you open it, usually through an app on your smartphone. You can use them to assess a person before you open your home to them or see who’s calling on you when you’re not at home. Smart door cameras allow you to record the footage, either when the camera is triggered by the motion sensor or, in some cases, 24/7, which could help with identifying criminals or reporting suspicious activity.

Can I claim for burglary on my home insurance if I left a door or window unlocked?

If a burglar gets in to your home through an unlocked or open door or window, rather than through forced entry, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to claim for any damage or stolen items through your home insurance. So, make sure to lock all your doors and windows whenever you go out, even if it’s just to pop to the shops.

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