Securing your new home

Burglar dummies near La PazAFP/Getty Images

With the number of break-ins on the rise across the country, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is advising homebuyers to prioritise safety when moving into a new home.

The latest crime figures from the Home Office show a 14% increase in domestic burglary levels between 2010 and 2011. You can view the British Crime Survey here. The NAEA says this indicates a real need for homebuyers to secure their new home as soon as possible after moving in.
This doesn't mean taking extreme measures. The picture shows local residents passing by dummies hanged from lamp posts with placards that warn burglars that they shall be "lynched if caught" at El Alto, 10 km from Bolivia's capital La Paz. According to unofficial sources, more than 15 alleged burglars were lynched - hanged or burnt - in El Alto in 2009 by residents, who complained about the lack of police presence.

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, said: "This isn't about living in fear but about adopting a practical, common sense approach to safety. Taking simple steps when you get the keys to your new home can help to protect both people and property."

Here are some tips to protect your property:
  • Look at lighting: Install motion-sensitive lighting fixtures at access points like above front doors and garage doors, overlooking gate entrances and in back gardens. Fitting timers to lighting indoors can also be a simple and effective deterrent to would-be intruders by giving the impression of activity when you are out.
  • Think about codes: Familiarise yourself with how the alarm works on your new property and make sure you set a new passcode. If you rely on sensors around the home, check the batteries on a regular basis.
  • Mark valuable belongings using a UV pen or by engraving - this is an easy and discreet way to identify your items if stolen and recovered. But don't forget to change the postcode each time you move!
  • Avoid letterbox theft: As vehicle security becomes more sophisticated, thieves are turning to letterbox theft to obtain car keys. Poles are often used to hook keys from hallway entrances proving a costly experience for the homeowner, so keep valuables well away from the front door.
  • Be a good neighbour: People power is still an essential part of crime prevention. Join your local Neighbourhood Watch group or if there isn't one, consider setting one up in liaison with your local police constabulary.
  • Don't get caught out online: It's natural to want to tell your friends and family about your new home. But take care if communicating this information online. Opportunist thieves are increasingly turning Facebook and Twitter to target unsuspecting victims so ensure status updates don't give away valuable information about your property, like your address, or photos that make the location of your home identifiable.
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