New figures have provided the first evidence that the economic downturn is fuelling crime, but what steps can you take to improve your home security and protect yourself against credit crunch burglars?
31 police forces across England and Wales have reported a dramatic rise in burglaries and robberies during the final four months of 2008, with 5572 extra cases of acquisitive crime committed, compared to the same period the previous year.
Carly Baker of home security specialist Yale recommends taking a few simple steps to protect your home during these recessionary times:
“Its not surprising that the economic downturn has led to an increase in burglaries but there are measures that homeowners can take to deter would-be thieves.
Firstly, take a look at your house from a burglar’s point of view – are there any areas of your property that look vulnerable? Are there any hedges or trees that could act as a shield and protect a burglar from being seen by passersby? Do you have any visible security features in place? Is the exterior of the property well lit at night? Assessing your property in this way will help you to see how you could make your home more secure.
Next, make sure your windows and doors are secured with the correct locks, as they are a common point of entry for burglars. Timber doors should be secured using a British Standard mortice lock and/or nightlatch – look for the kitemark on lock packs or the lock itself.
Fitting an alarm can also dramatically reduce the likelihood of a burglar gaining access to your home – only 30% of UK homes have an alarm system, yet 60% of burglaries attempted on homes fitted with an alarm are unsuccessful. DIY-friendly wirefree alarm kits are now available and can be easily installed in your home, plus the siren box on the outside of your property can act as a strong visual deterrent.
Its important to protect sheds and garages too. Not only do they contain valuable items such as bicycles and lawnmowers, they also house ladders and tools that could prove useful to an intruder. Plus, garages that are linked to a house can provide a route into the rest of your home, if a burglar gains access. You can protect these areas with standalone alarms, which run on battery power, so they are an easy and cost-effective security measure.
By re-evaluating your home security and investing in some fairly simple and affordable measures, you can deter would-be thieves from targeting your home. Houses with no home security are almost 10 times more likely to be burgled than households where there are simple security measures in place, so it really is a worthwhile investment.”
Carly adds: “Should the worst happen and a burglar does manage to break in to your home, its also worth making sure that valuables are stored in a secure place, as this will provide you with an extra level of protection.
An electronic home safe can be used to keep everything from jewellery to passports to electronic equipment safe. MP3 players, digital cameras and laptops are all expensive items in their own right but it’s the sentimental value of their contents – the music catalogue, photos and personal work – that we fear losing too, so storing them in a home safe can give you added peace of mind. With Christmas presents only recently unwrapped and more of us keeping cash in the home as a result of the banking crisis, now is a great time to install a safe that will act as another barrier to thieves.”
Yale offers a wide range of DIY-friendly home security solutions, including door and window locks, padlocks, safes and alarms, including wirefree kits and standalone designs.
Yale security products are available in many large retailers and hardware stores, or through your local locksmith. For product information, security advice or to buy online visit www.yale.co.uk. Alternatively, please telephone 01902 364647 for further information.
 Figures published by The Independent on 17 January 2009