Home security is mostly about prevention. If it's a cure you need, you've probably already been burgled and will know to your cost what it is like to have your privacy invaded, your valuables snatched, and your life made a misery.
At Crown Securities (UK) we always advise installing a burglar alarm system – we would, wouldn't we – but time and again we come across clients who only consider installing security alarms after they have suffered a break-in.
Far better to head trouble off at the pass. It's nonsense to think that you don't need an alarm response system until you've been burgled. It's like waiting for the rain before fixing the roof.
However, before installing a security system in your home, there are measures you can take to protect your property. All it takes are a few sensible precautions.
The most popular point of entry is the door, so it makes sense to start there. Here are a few tips that may help put off prowlers and prevent a break-in.
It sounds stupid, but actually, a scruffy front door tells an unwanted visitor that you probably don't care too much about your property.
It's a clear signal that other doors and windows may be insecure.
Neighbours may overlook the front door, but an unkempt front door is an open invitation to take a quick look round the back.
Like a scruffy front door, an unkempt lawn or untidy garden can be a tell-tale sign that the owners are away for a while, and the place may be ripe for a 'recce' if nothing else.
While out with a lawnmower, think about the house planting scheme.
You can plant your garden using anti-burglar plants and shrubs.
The most obvious security upgrade is the one often left to last because it sounds too complicated.
Changing the lock on a front door is a job that you can do yourself. It can be carried out by any moderately competent DIY handyman.
If you're not sure your skills are up to the task, then get a carpenter or locksmith to carry out the work.
For real security, you need two locks on your front door – a dead-latch cylinder lock and a five-lever mortice deadlock. Don't go for the cheapest; get the best door lock you can afford. Before making a purchase check your home insurance policy for minimum standards.
Installing a door chain is a simple but effective security measure that will cost next to nothing.
If you are away from home for a few days, chain the front door and leave by the back door.
Another useful addition is a peephole, although it pays to get a decent one that gives you an excellent wide-angle view of the exterior.
If the locks are too good, some burglars will have a go at the frame.
Make sure the frame is securely screwed to the wall to prevent it from being levered away from the brickwork.
It can also be strengthened by fitting bars to make the locking points even stronger.
Hinge bolts will also prevent burglars from forcing a door off its hinges.
A motion or heat sensor security light on the front door is one of the best and cheapest ways to deter intruders.
The price of these devices has dropped sharply in recent years, and they cost virtually nothing to run.
A light fitted at the front and back of your house to ensure all doors are visible after dark.
Doors with glazed windows offer the thief a natural point to break in.
Make them more secure by adding a decorative metal grille or by sealing with security film on the back of the glass panels.
Always ensure the glass is laminated and fit it from the inside so the beading can't be prised off to gain entry.
Patio doors make an excellent addition to the home, but they are an accessible entry point for thieves.
Patios should have a British Standards five-lever mortice sash lock to make them secure.
And it's a good idea to use mortice rack or surface-mounted press bolts.
Sliding patio doors should have at least three locking points as well as an anti-lifting device.
Bi-fold patio doors should come with built-in security measures, and it's wise to double-check if in doubt.