Dr Steffen GeorgeWe need to keep our eyes on the ball (or the chain rather) when it comes to security, and no more so than when we go on our summer holidays. An estimated 785,000 domestic burglaries took place last year, and the most popular time for break-ins was over summer.

Over the summer months opportunist thieves are on the lookout for empty homes, and with 20% of intruders gaining access through an unsecured door it’s clear we need to pay more attention to our security.

A few small changes can severely decrease the risk of break-ins, and in doing so, give you peace of mind. Here Dr Steffen George, development director of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the leading trade association for the locksmith industry – shares his expert tips on securing your home while away on holiday:

  1. Firstly – it sounds simple, but they’re often forgotten when in a rush – ensure your house is properly secured before you leave.  Check all doors and windows, including garage doors and rear entrances, making sure they are securely locked and all locks are correctly fitted and functioning. This isn’t only important for a good level of security, it’s also necessary for your insurance. An expert locksmith, such as an MLA approved company, will be able to check your locks and upgrade them if necessary.
  2. Don’t make it obvious your home has been left empty. Try to avoid a build-up of newspapers and post, cancel regular deliveries and consider setting up a Royal Mail Keepsafe™ account. This holds your mail for up to 66 days and delivers it the day after you return home. More information can be found at www.royalmail.com/personal/receiving-mail/keepsafe.
  3. It’s equally as important to store valuables such as jewellery, tablets and other gadgets which could attract an opportunist thief, out of sight. Better still lock them in a professionally specified and installed safe.  A safe is also an ideal location to leave spare sets of keys – if an intruder does manage to get in, the last thing you want is for them to get their hand on access to your vehicles, garage, home or even office.  Your local MLA approved locksmith can give you advice on safes suitable for your needs and can also help supply and install them in suitable and discreet locations.
  4. When it comes down to your lights, a timer system requires very little effort to operate and can work as an excellent deterrent against would-be-thieves. Simply set the lights to come on as it gets dark (around 9pm in summer), creating the impression someone is home.
  5. Another useful product is a fake TV, which works on a timer to emit multi-coloured LED lights – similar to that of a real television. They use less power than a standard lamp, so can be cost effective too.
  6. Don’t forget about the external aspects. Timed lighting outside can deter a burglar as they are more likely to be spotted by neighbours, while tools, ladders or other objects can be used to break into your home, so it’s important to ensure they are stored out of sight in well-secured sheds, outhouses and garages.
  7. For further peace of mind, consider installing CCTV systems which can be remotely monitored, allowing you to keep an eye on your property from wherever you are in the world via the internet, including your smart phone.
  8. While you are away, leave a spare key with a trusted neighbour, friend or relative and ask them to pop in a couple of times a week to check your property and remove any post, you could even ask if they want to park their car on your drive. And if you are planning on taking an extended holiday, it may be worth considering turning off the water supply to avoid any potential leaks or floods.

If you do decide on additional security devices, such as safes, CCTV and outdoor lighting, make sure that they are of high quality and are professionally installed. Making these initial considerations, could save you a significant amount of financial heart-ache in the long-term. For advice about security products that have been independently tested visit www.soldsecure.com.

It is important that you consider your home’s safety in advance of your holiday to give you enough time to make any security improvements necessary. Think about conducting a security check before you go away – a third party accredited, licensed locksmith, such as an MLA member, can assist in reviewing a property’s security and can install effective security measures, to help you save money in the long-term.

And finally, don’t highlight your holiday on social media until you’re back. If you do then you’re effectively promoting the fact that your home is empty!

To find a locksmith in your area visit the user-friendly MLA website at www.locksmiths.co.uk. To review a list of independently tested and approved security products visit the Sold Secure website at: www.soldsecure.com. Security guidelines for domestic properties can also be downloaded free of charge from http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/security-advice/security-guidelines-for-domestic-dwellings/.

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