Make sure you know how to close your door properly. To fully engage the locking system on most UPVC or composite doors you must lift the handle, turn the key and then remove it. Don’t leave your keys in locks or lying around – put them in a safe place where you can find them easily.
Flimsy doors and inadequate locks are a security risk. Check the door frame to make sure it’s sturdy and not rotten and make sure the hinges are strong enough. You can fit hinge bolts or security hinges for extra security. Glass panels on doors are vulnerable so it’s worth replacing them with laminated glass.
French doors, patio doors and conservatories need to be as secure as other external doors. Install additional locks and security blocks to stop lifting or forced entry. If you’re buying new patio doors, ask for the sliding section to be on the inside and for anti-lift blocks. It’s a good idea to have multi-locking systems or mortice security bolts with removable keys at the top and bottom of both doors.
Modern windows with multi-point locking systems don’t usually need additional locks but they should have locking handles, except on windows that may be used as a fire exit.
There are some simple precautions you can take to protect your other windows:
- fit window locks
- add adhesive window film to protect glazing from being smashed (make sure it’s accredited to British safety standards)
- window shock alarms are relatively cheap and easy to fit. They may come with an adhesive warning sticker that can act as an additional deterrent.
If you may need to escape from the window in an emergency, it should have laminated glass rather than a lock. When buying new windows, make sure they comply with British safety standards.
- A letterbox draught excluder makes it difficult for intruders to see inside your property.
- A cage or restrictor on your letterbox can prevent anyone from reaching inside and trying latches or fishing for keys.
- Get a security chain but don’t leave this on all the time. Only use it when you’re answering the door. Other key holders such as carers may need to get in.
- A peephole or viewer can help you identify callers – you can get these in different sizes if you have a visual impairment.
- If you have a door security system, don’t buzz anyone in that you don’t know.
Beware of bogus callers and always ask for ID. Door-to-door callers sometimes work in pairs – one distracts you while the other carries out the burglary. For more information on how to deal with this type of situation, see our guide Scamwise.
You can get practical help and advice from your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team or Crime Prevention Officer to make sure your home is secure. They may offer free security checks. Call 101 or visit police.uk. Your local Neighbourhood Watch can also advise.
If you need to have locks fitted or changed, use a professional locksmith. You can find an accredited locksmith through the Master Locksmiths Association. They can also offer more detailed information and advice about locks.
Your local council may also be able to help you improve your home security, for example by fitting a key safe or providing a bogus caller button.
You can find reliable tradespeople through Trustmark, a government-backed scheme, or ask your friends and neighbours for recommendations. Your local Home Improvement Agency may be able to help you, for example by fitting locks, door chains and viewers.