Property news: Beat the burglars

With an average of 74 UK homes being burgled each hour, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is advising homebuyers to prioritise safety when moving into a new home.

While overall burglary rates are down year-on-year, this statistic still indicates a real need for homebuyers to assess the security measures in their new property, according to the NAEA.

Mark Hayward, President of the NAEA, said: “People shouldn’t live in fear of burglary, but there are a few straightforward steps that can be taken to reduce a homeowner’s chances of falling victim to this particular crime.

“A new home is likely to be the biggest investment an individual can make. As one would carefully choose a high quality lock to secure an expensive bike, assessing the security of a home should be a key priority for any buyer.”

The NAEA has the following security advice for homeowners and buyers:

Avoid being an easy target: The warmer summer months can mean the temptation to leave windows open is high. Even if you are leaving a property for a short time, always make sure all windows are shut and locked to deter opportunist thieves.

If you have any concerns about the location, ask the agent if the property has any history of burglaries. Under the new consumer protection regulations, agents are now obliged to disclose information that could affect your transactional decision.

Be alarmed: If your new home doesn’t have a burglar alarm, consider installing one, as it is likely to reduce the risk of your home being burgled.**

If the home already has an alarm, familiarise yourself with how it works and make sure you are able to set a new passcode. If the system relies on sensors around the home, check the batteries on a regular basis.

Beware letterbox theft: It’s an old trick, but thieves still employ letterbox theft to obtain car or house keys. Poles are often used to hook keys from hallway entrances, so keep valuables well away from the front door. If you are planning to fit a new front door, one with a letterbox placed towards the bottom can also help deter this sort of theft.

Light up your life: Dark spots can offer useful cover for anyone seeking to gain unauthorised entry to a property. Therefore, installing motion-sensitive lighting fixtures at access points above front doors and garage doors, gate entrances and in back gardens can serve as a useful deterrent.

Fitting timers to lighting indoors can also be a simple and effective disincentive to would-be intruders by giving the impression of activity when you are out.

Don’t get caught out online: Opportunist thieves are increasingly turning to Facebook and Twitter to target unsuspecting victims, so ensure status updates don’t give away valuable information about your property. It’s only natural to want to show off your new home, but details like your address, details of any holidays you may be taking or photos that make the location of your home identifiable should be kept private.

NOTE: Statistics quoted are from:

ONS statistics September 2012, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-287894

* Metropolitan Police, content.met.police.uk/Article/Security-alarms/1400011145584/1400011145584