First, the good news: police figures show a steady decline in reported burglary incidents and criminal damage over many years.
Then there is the bad news: many criminals still want to break into your home, steal your valuables, and get away scot-free.
Installing a home security system is undoubtedly part of the answer and a significant part too. Modern burglar alarm systems are relatively cheap, efficient and easy to operate, so it just doesn't make sense not to install one.
But even if you do not have a home burglar alarm system installed, it is foolish to make things easy for the criminal and fail to take steps to protect your property.
There is plenty of online advice from police, security experts and others on how to help keep your home safe from intruders, but here are a few tips you, and even the experts, may not have considered.
Unlike the common perception, it is a fact that most domestic burglaries do not happen at night but during daylight hours.
Most homes are broken into when the occupants are out at work, visiting relatives, shopping or away on holiday, so it makes sense to make your home more secure and not leave yourself open to theft and property damage.
One of the best places to start is a simple walk outside your home. Look at your security through the eyes of a potential burglar. Every home will have security weaknesses, but the most damaging are those on show to passers-by. If you spot a patio door with a weak lock or a window that looks easy to open, so will a thief, especially one of the opportunistic variety. It also pays to be nosy, so peer through any windows. See how many of your expensive belongings, such as computers, cameras and even purses, are on show.
Burglars like high hedges: thieves don't want to be seen, and a tall hedge makes a convenient hiding spot, especially if there are neighbours. With no cover available, the would-be burglar may well move to the next home. So, if you must have hedges keep them small and neatly trimmed; you can always plant some thorny bushes to act as a deterrent (LINK).
Although rolling out the barbecue each time you want to use it may seem a hassle, it is better than having it nicked. Make room in the garage to store expensive equipment such as grills, bikes and mowers. Leaving items like this lying around is an open invitation to thieves – and they don't even have to break in. Secure sheds and garages are also good places to store ladders, hand tools and similar items that could be used to help break into the house. And if the garage or shed has windows, hang up some curtains or blinds so that others can't peek inside.
Most burglaries happen during daylight hours, but it still pays to ensure your home is well protected at night. Installing motion sensor lighting around your home can benefit your lifestyle and act as a strong deterrent. Burglars often earmark a whole street when looking for opportunities, so it is usually a good idea to chat with the neighbours about lighting to ensure all the dark areas can be covered. It's also an excellent chance to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, so talk to the local police and seek their advice.
Quality locks and padlocks are relatively cheap, and they can do more to deter burglars than anything else. Secure locks on gates indicate to the would-be thief that the homeowner cares about security and that there may be more anti-burglar devices in store if he tries to break in. It is often a good idea to chain and padlock expensive items together in the shed, making them much harder to remove and carry away.
When handed a set of keys on moving into a new property, whether rented or bought, it is never safe to assume these are the only keys. There is no way to know if copies of your house keys have not been made, so it is better to play it safe and have new locks fitted throughout.
Valuable items should always be kept in a safe place, such as a lockable box. However, many home safes are not particularly large, and it is easy for a thief to take the whole safety box and force it open later, so make sure it is firmly bolted down. There are safe boxes on sale that 'disguise' themselves as other everyday objects, such as bread bins and even books. These can be very useful as burglars usually opt for the most likely places, such as drawers and wardrobes when searching for valuables like jewellery.
Keys should be kept in a safe place and out of sight. It is very convenient to hang keys on hooks or leave them in bowls by the front door, but they make an open target for thieves. It is also a bad idea to label your keys. The thief will know which key fits which door, and you will be helping him rob you of your most valuable possessions. If you must keep keys in an accessible place, use a safe box with a combination so intruders can quickly get at them.
Nothing is more inviting to a burglar than a silent home in complete darkness and no car in the driveway. When leaving the house empty, it's a good idea to leave some lights on and the radio too. Simple devices can be installed to automatically turn your lights and radio on at pre-set or even random times. You can set the timer for outside lights to come on at sunset.
It is common these days to post holiday photos on social media or to tweet about what a great time you are having at a restaurant, theatre or cinema. Resist the temptation to post messages that tell everyone that you are not home and that the house is most likely empty. Also, don't leave a message on the answerphone that tells callers you will be away for a while. It may be helpful to inform friends of your absence. Still, it will also be handy for any unwanted intruder.
The above tips are all very well, and the wise will take them on board to improve security in the property. Still, there is no better insurance against a break-in than installing a burglar alarm security system in your home. Modern home security systems have many features that effectively deter crime and are easy to operate and maintain. You can select the security features that best fit your needs, and, with modern wireless devices, there are no unsightly wires or much disruption to the home in having a system installed. Wireless burglar alarm systems can come with such add-ons as cameras, motion and heat sensors and recording devices and can be easily accessed and operated by a mobile phone.