Former SAS sergeant Chris Ryan knows a thing or two about protecting himself in perilous situations and his latest book “Safe - how to stay safe in a dangerous world” is full of advice. It covers everything from terror incidents to cyber attacks and hostage situations, along with some good advice on home security.
There are approximately 750,000 reports in domestic burglaries in the UK every year and many are preventable. Here Chris offers tips on how to to burglar-proof your home. His advice is given without responsibility.
*Safe by Chris Ryan is published by Coronet and costs £16.99.
*Most break-ins are not sophisticated. A burglar will often simply kick your door in. If a door only has a single cylinder lock (like a Yale lock), it’s easy to break in. Most people advise that you have at least a second mortise deadlock fitted to your front door. However, in order to make a door almost impregnable to an opportunistic burglar, I’d suggest that you make sure every exterior door is solid, with no weak panels and no glazing. Reinforce your strike plate. This is the metal panel on your door frame that your bolts slide into. Most strike plates are insubstantial and only attached with short screws. Fit extra deadbolts opposite the hinges of the door. The extra security at the top and bottom of the door make it almost impossible to rip out of the frame. Always ensure that your door looks like it’s in good nick. If it’s tatty, burglars might assume that it’s old, uncared for and insecure.
*Windows. All windows should have window locks to stop them opening fully. This goes for first-floor windows. Most thieves will avoid breaking windows, because of the noise it makes, but I would always recommend toughened glass to make it that bit more difficult for them.
*Lighting. Lots of burglaries happen during the day when the occupants of the house are out at work. But many burglars still prefer the cover of darkness. Bright lights, at night, will always deter them. Movement-operated security lights do the job well. Remember: burglars don’t want to be seen by the neighbours any more than they want to be seen by you. If possible, make sure the approaches to your house are also lit up when viewed from the street.
People often recommend putting an interior light on a timer when you’re out of the house. I would suggest using several, set to come on at different times.
*Cover. Cover is a lifeline to a burglar so don’t provide it to them. You might feel more private and secure if your house is surrounded by tall trees and bushes, but in reality you’re playing into a burglar’s hands by giving them an easy place to hide, and a barrier to stop neighbours seeing them break into your house.
*Defensive plants. None of us want razor wire over our fences. A time-honoured and extremely effective alternative is to use spiny or prickly plants. Rambling roses growing up and over a wall will prevent an intruder just as effectively as barbed wire. A thicket of prickly shrubs will stop a potential burglar from crossing open ground.
Defensive plants are particularly effective when grown around windows as these can be easy access points. My go-to defensive plant is Pyracantha. It has long, extremely sharp thorns and can be pruned into a box shape under windows so that it looks attractive. It will deter any intruder.
*Burglar alarms. I wouldn’t bother with fake alarm fascias or stickers announcing security measures that don’t exist. If you’re going to get an alarm (and I think you should), get a good quality one with a brand name that a potential burglar will recognise and therefore avoid.
Regular alarms that make a loud noise when someone opens a door or breaks a window can be a good deterrent. Even better is a full home security system but by far the best alarm is a dog. When a criminal hears a dog barking, they won’t know if it’s a pitbull or a poodle, so they probably won’t risk an encounter. But the main reason a dog is so effective is that the barking alerts people to an intruder’s presence. Even if you don’t have a dog, keep a dog bowl by your front and back door.