Last year, crime in Scotland hit the lowest levels recorded for over 40 years. Levels of housebreaking have fallen by over a third in the last decade, while thefts from a motor vehicle have tumbled by two thirds over the same period.
Nonetheless, there’s still a way to go before we can leave our doors unlocked at night and sleep easily. It doesn’t take a great deal of forethought to minimise your chances of joining next year’s crime statistics – here are ten simple precautions everyone can take to avoid joining next year’s crime statistics:
- Never leave your car (and often, by association, house) keys unattended. As security improves, key theft is an ideal way for thieves to gain access; few insurers would pay out for a claim in such circumstances.
- Similarly, avoid leaving keys near the letterbox. There are apocryphal stories of key rings being “fished” through letterboxes, and then used to gain access or steal a vehicle on the driveway.
- A fifth of burglars gain access to a property through an open door or window, so secure everything even when you’re at home. Criminals sometimes distract homeowners at the front door, while their colleagues gain access via an unlocked back door.
- Leaving a spare key under the doormat or hanging it on a piece of string inside the letterbox are clichés that any burglar will be inclined to take advantage of.
- Patio doors can be secured with nothing more than a plank of wood. Cut it to size, and wedge it horizontally between the handle and the central divider. This will prevent the door being opened from the outside, and it’ll be far too heavy to lift out.
- A similar trick applies to French doors, where a plank of wood under a pull-down handle or a locked chain around both handles will ensure the doors simply won’t open.
- A preferred method of access for a burglar is through rear ground floor windows. Fit locks with metal keys if they aren’t already installed, and close blinds at night to prevent opportunists seeing what’s inside.
- If your main entry door doesn’t already have a five-lever deadlock approved by BS3621, install one immediately. If the door was installed by a previous owner (or is original), get new locks fitted, as anyone could have obtained copies of the current keys.
- Lighting is the burglar’s enemy, so fit timers to a lamp near a window. If you have a garden, consider night-lighting and motion-sensor floodlights.
- Finally, if you don’t already have a working alarm system, get one installed. Police monitored systems are a particularly strong deterrent, and get a bell box on the back of your home as well as the front for optimal deterrent value.