Protecting your home

It's not something that any of us want to think about, but according to the Office of National Statistics over a quarter of a million homes in Britain were burgled in 2011. By taking just a few simple steps you could stay one step ahead of the thieves and ensure your home is safe. Here are our top tips:

1. Use the deterrents available

It sounds obvious, but keeping your windows and doors locked and getting into the habit of checking them before you leave the house is a really good idea. A large percentage of burglaries are unforced, meaning the thieves have just walked straight in a back door or climbed through an open window. Making sure you don't leave any handy tools hanging round your back garden that'll make it easier to break in, ladders are an absolute gift.

House alarms are a great deterrent - when they're on. Many of us have them but leave them off in the night, which sort of defeats the purpose. Ok, one of the kids accidentally setting the alarm off on their way to get a midnight snack might be annoying, but not half as annoying as having your prized possessions stolen or hearing someone downstairs in your home in the wee hours.

Motion sensors are easy to install and a good deterrent, after all no burglar wants to be exposed while up to no good. The higher up you install them, the wider the area they will illuminate - just make sure they're not a nuisance for your neighbours.

2. Don't tempt them

Keep your keys away from the front door. With one bent piece of wire a skilled thief could get hold of your car and front door keys via your letterbox. Why make it so easy?

After using your laptop or tablet, put it away instead of leaving it on full view from your window. Thieves are often looking for items that are both valuable and portable, and these fit the bill perfectly. And it's worth taking photos of these high value items, just in case anything does happen to them as it could make the claims process smoother with your insurance company and help the police identify what might be yours if the thief is caught.

3. Away from home?

As well as informing your neighbours you're heading off on a break and making sure you've put the house alarm on, resist the temptation to brag about your holiday to your taxi driver or on social media. You just never know whose ears might prick up.

To create the illusion that someone is at home, draw your curtains and use timer switches. There are switches available that have up to six on/off settings which means you could have the lamp, the radio and the television on at different intervals to foil anyone who may be poking around.

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