Home security

In this section you will find information on how to prevent crime happening to you and where you can go to find additional help.

What do YOU want to protect yourself from?

There are a number of offences associated to the word ‘burglary’ e.g. a dwelling burglary, burglary other than a dwelling, aggravated burglary and so on.

Here we are concerned with what you can do to prevent a person entering your home as a trespasser to steal from you i.e. a ‘dwelling burglary with intent to steal’ – Contrary to section 9(1)(b) of the Theft Act 1968.

Research suggests that people that commit burglary will look to establish if there is:

  • Anybody at home
  • CCTV covering the area or property
  • A security alarm system fitted
  • An easy way in, would they be seen when trying to get in?

In most cases the thieves do not even have to use force. Perpetrators get in through an open door or window.

What can YOU do to reduce the likelihood of this happening to you?

If we take the four points above first and look at what YOU can do:

Anybody at home

YOU can consider using the following “signs of occupancy”.

When you go out leave:

  • Your lights on as if you were at home. Use timers or other devices if appropriate.
  • The television or radio on. There are devices available that can create such effects.
  • The curtains or blinds closed or ask a neighbour to do this for you at the appropriate time.
  • A car on the drive, or offer the space to a neighbour or friend to use in your absence.

CCTV covering the area or property

  • If you don’t have a CCTV system then give careful consideration to whether it would be appropriate, realistic and cost effective to have one.
  • If you already have a CCTV system make sure it is operational, covering the appropriate area and recording images that are of the required quality, so that they can be used by police to identify offenders if a crime occurs.

A security alarm system fitted

  • Ask yourself if it would be appropriate, realistic and cost effective to have an alarm.  Technology has advanced and continues to do so.  If you decide to have an alarm there are many systems to consider and it is your choice what to spend your money on.  Remember the criteria that you have set and don’t be encouraged to spend on something you don’t need.  Systems these days can be basic (triggers that sound an audible alarm locally), to monitored systems (triggers that activate to a control centre who determine a response and/or call police and even systems that you can monitor yourself) and then there are quite sophisticated and monitored systems that are interactive and managed for you.  It is always worth getting several quotes before parting with any money as well as specialist advice.
  • If you have a system already fitted, it is worth checking that it is still operational, effective and still meets your original criteria for the installation.  Alarm systems require servicing and reviewing to ensure they continue to be ‘fit for your purpose’.
  • Remember:  your alarm system will only work if you use it properly and in accordance with supplier/manufacturer instructions.

An easy way in and can they be seen when they try to get in? (Look at your home through a burglar’s eyes.)

  • Windows - thieves will gain access through an unlocked door or open window. Make sure doors and windows are locked - particularly when leaving the house. 
  • Keys – Never leave spare keys outside in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat or in a flowerpot - a thief will look there first.  If you've moved into a new house, consider changing the back and front door locks – previous occupants may have kept the spare keys that fit.  Keep vehicle keys and house keys out of sight and away from accessible openings.  Do not label your house keys with your name and/or address.  NB:  thieves are known to steal car keys so they can take cars, often using a hook or magnet on a stick pushed through the letterbox.
  • Secure all doors - if your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home. Thieves are most likely to target doors when attempting to break in.  Check the condition of the frames, hinges and glass panels. Fit such devices as chains and door viewers. Patio doors may also need special fitted locks.  Fit mortice locks or bolts to all outside downstairs doors, as well as locks to all downstairs or easily accessible windows.
  • Good neighbours - if you see anyone acting suspiciously in your neighbourhood, call the police.
  • Watch schemes – join your local scheme (see what they're doing and how you can contribute) or if there isn’t one – consider setting one up.  More details available if you email DaCCWA the Devon and Cornwall Community Watch Association or visit the National Neighbourhood Watch – Our Watch site.

Remember- anything that will increase the time a burglar takes to commit the crime, creates more noise (so they are heard), or makes them look more conspicuous while committing the crime will increase the deterrent.

Conduct a home security survey

  • How would you get in if you’d forgotten your keys? If you can get in, so can a burglar.
  • Are there places where they could break in without being seen?
  • Would they have to make a lot of noise by breaking glass?


  • Check your insurance – appropriate insurance will relieve you of the financial worry of replacing stolen goods. Many insurance companies offer reduced premiums for people with good home security.  Remember:  most insurance companies specify the types of locks required and that they are used i.e. certified to British Standard BS7950 (windows) or PAS 24-1 (doors).
  • Do not buy stolen goods – do not buy goods that you think might have been stolen.  This is rewarding burglars and encourages further crime.  If it is too good to be true then it probably is. 
  • Have a Fire Safety plan- make sure that any improvements you make don’t stop you from getting out of your house as quickly as possible if there is a fire. 

Where can YOU get more help and advice?

  • Your Neighbourhood Policing Team.
  • National Neighbourhood Watch – Our Watch
  • Mark your possessions – You can obtain advice on how to mark your personal possessions here
  • Keyholder scheme – If you are away for extended periods consider using the Constabulary ‘key holder’ scheme. Cancel any deliveries expected during your absence e.g. newspapers. Also consider letting a neighbour, friend or relative have a key so that they can continue your routine of closing/opening curtains, putting lights on, etc.

Doors: A Guide to Home Security

Home secruity door

1. Door viewer

If you don’t have a window in the door or some other way of checking who’s calling, fit a door viewer. Look through this to identify callers before you open the door.

2. Hinges

Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws. For added security, fit hinge bolts. These are cheap and help to reinforce the hinge side of a door against force. Hinge bolts or security hinges are especially important if your door opens outwards.

3. Letterboxes

Never hang a spare key inside the letterbox. This is an obvious place that a thief will check. Letterboxes should be at least 400mm (16 inches) from any locks. Consider fitting a letterbox cage or other restrictor, which prevents thieves from putting their hands through the letterbox and trying the latches from the inside.

4. Rim latch

Most front doors are fitted with a rim latch, which locks automatically when the door is closed. You can open these from the inside without a key. For strength and quality, look for BS3621 Kitemarked products. For extra protection, you should consider installing the following.

5. Automatic deadlock

This locks automatically when the door is closed and is more secure than other types of rim latch. It needs a key to open it from both the inside and the outside.

6. Chains and door viewers

Buy a door bar or chain and door viewer. Use them every time someone calls. Remember, though, that you only use the door chain or bar when answering the door - don’t leave it on all the time.

7. Mortice deadlock

Fit a five-lever mortice deadlock about a third of the way up the door. Most insurance companies are happy with one Kitemarked to British Standard BS3621. You can only open a deadlock with a key, so a thief can’t smash the nearby glass panel to open the door from the inside. Deadlocks also mean that if burglars get into your home through a window, they can’t carry your belongings out through the door.

Sliding doors

Sliding patio doors should have anti-lift devices and locks fitted to the top and bottom to stop them being removed from outside, unless they already have a multi-locking system. Get specialist advice. If you are getting new or replacement patio doors, ask the system supplier for their high-security specification.


Crime Reduction Officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, Crime Reduction Dept
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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