If you're renting and spot any risks, it may be your landlord's responsibility to make your home safer - check your tenancy agreement (or occupation contract in Wales) or speak with your landlord. If you're not sure, call our Helpline for further advice.
Inside your home
Leave a light on
When you’re out or away – whether you’re popping to the local shop or going away on holiday – make it look like someone’s home. Leave a visible light on when you go out in the evening. You can use timer switches on lights and radios so they come on automatically. You could also consider buying a fake TV or TV simulator.
Protect your valuables
Don’t leave valuable items where they can be seen from outside. Take photos of valuable items and make a note of any serial numbers – keep them with your insurance policy. Items that are most commonly stolen include purses, wallets, jewellery, watches and electronic goods. If you have a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, you can install tracking software to help trace it if it’s stolen. Some software can be downloaded for free.
You can also register valuable items online for free on Immobilise, the national property register. This makes it easier for police to return stolen items to you if they’re found. You could consider fitting a small safe – you can get information about safes and other security products from Sold Secure.
Mark your property
Marking your property with a security code makes it difficult for burglars to dispose of stolen goods and increases the chances of them being returned to you if they’re recovered. You can do this in various ways:
- etching or engraving
- specialist forensic kits that use synthetic DNA
- register your property for free at Immobilise.
You can create your own unique security code by using your postcode, followed by your house or flat number. For example, if your address is 21 Court Street and your postcode XY3 6DE, your unique security code would be XY36DE21.
It may be worth keeping an inventory or list of all the property you have marked.
At the front of your home
You need good strong locks on your doors. If you have a wooden front door, it should be fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock and a night latch or rim lock. A wooden back door should also be fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock. All locks should be BS3621 – this means they meet the lock standard of the British Standards Institute for thief-resistant locks.
A UPVC or a composite door (made up from a variety of materials) should be fitted with a multi-point lock with a Europrofile cylinder. If you use a cylinder lock, you may need additional protection such as a security door handle.
Secure windows, front door and gate
Burglars look for open windows or other openings. Even a small gap can be made bigger with an arm or a tool. Don't leave windows open when you're out – even if you're only in the garden.
Make sure your doorframes are sound and in good condition. Check if the door hinges are rusty or damaged and consider whether someone could easily kick in or break the door panels.
If you leave your gate open or unlocked, it could indicate to burglars that the rest of your home security measures are weak.
Being part of a Neighbourhood Watch helps to deter criminals and shows that you’re aware of security. Join a scheme in your area or, if there isn’t one, you could consider setting one up. Your local Neighbourhood Watch can advise on security measures and they will be in close touch with your local police.
- If you live in England or Wales, visit OurWatch.
- If you live in Scotland, visit Neighbourhood Watch Scotland.
At the side and back of your home
Window locks are a good deterrent. Fit them to windows on the ground floor, above flat roofs or near a drainpipe. You can buy them from DIY and home security stores and they can be fitted to most types of windows. Like door locks, they should meet the BS3621 standard for thief-resistant locks.
Make sure you remove the keys from locked windows and keep them somewhere safe and out of sight, but where you can find them easily in case you need to escape in an emergency.
Only put your wheelie bin out on the day of a rubbish collection. It could be used as a climbing aid or even for transporting stolen items. It may also be vandalised. Store it securely and out of sight. You could consider securing it with a clamp or chain. Don’t leave packaging for expensive items out either, as it may attract burglars. If you’re throwing away documents that contain your personal information, it’s a good idea to shred them first.
Good outdoor lighting that comes on automatically is a powerful deterrent. It can also help you find your way if you come back after dark. You can get motion sensor lighting that’s triggered by movement, or dusk-to-dawn lights that come on automatically when it gets dark. Even if you can’t get motion sensor lighting, any outdoor lighting can deter burglars from breaking through a door or window.
Position lights at a suitable height so they can’t be tampered with and are less likely to be activated by animals or plant movement, and make sure the light won’t annoy your neighbours or distract passing cars. Lights should be fitted by a qualified electrician. You can find a trading standards-approved business on Trustmark, or ask your friends and neighbours for recommendations.
Use the ‘Checklist of things to think about’ in our Home security guide to see how secure your home is and identify any potential issues.
If you're renting and spot any risks, check your tenancy agreement (or occupation contract in Wales) or speak with your landlord. If you're not sure, call our Helpline.
You can find an accredited locksmith and advice about locks through the Master Locksmiths Association.