In matters of home security we’re often talking about what people should be doing to protect their home, contents and the safety of their family, and the reverse of this is what people should not do – two sides of the same coin. It’s not always easy, however, to know whether an action falls into the “do” or the “do not” column, so take a look at these scenarios and see if you can identify what these hypothetical people did right, and what they did wrong.
Bernard lives in a ground floor retirement flat in a supported living complex. There is no alarm in the property as there is someone on site at all times, to provide support to the residents and challenge any potential intruders. Bernard has a small garden which he likes to keep private through planting shrubs near the access routes and he spends a lot of time there, having an established routine of running errands in the mornings and napping in the garden in the afternoons. Bernard closes the back door when he’s out there to stop bugs getting in, but he doesn’t lock it except when he’s out or at night.
Joy and Peter
Joy and Peter are a newly married couple who have just moved into their first home together. They have installed an alarm system and smart home technology, including a video doorbell and CCTV outside. The house is part of an estate and they have one adjoining neighbour but several people live close by. They have been unpacking their wedding presents, white goods and other electrical items and leaving the boxes by their bin, which is visible from the road. The residents in their road are mostly out during the day at work, so burglars could work unseen and unchallenged on any given weekday. They haven’t introduced themselves to the neighbours yet, but plan to once they are settled in.
Helena is a young single woman living in an apartment block which has a keypad entry system for the front door, as well as a video entry phone for each flat which they can use to buzz visitors in. The front doors of the flats are fire doors with Yale locks and therefore very sturdy. A peephole provides residents with the ability to check out any noises outside their flat without having to open the door. Helena, however, often leaves her door propped open when she nips out to the bins, or to check her post box, which she often does at night before going to bed.
Think about what each of these characters is doing right, and what each of them could improve on and check your answers against ours below.
Bernard: The type of property Bernard lives in is ideal for older people, as the support live-in staff are there to stop intruders and crime, and to support the residents. The lack of an alarm system here is not a big problem, as the function of an alarm system is replaced by these staff members. Bernard’s routine, however, makes him an easy target for burglars as they could spend just a few days observing him before working out which morning is best to break in. Although the support live-in staff are present, potential thieves could still use Bernard’s shrubs to conceal themselves near his home, and could break in very easily while he’s sleeping in the garden. Bernard should make a new habit of always locking the back door even when he is in the garden, and remove or prune back larger shrubs so they can’t be used as a hiding place.
Joy and Peter: Joy and Peter have done well with their home security, taking advantage of the wonders of modern technology to keep their home safe and monitored while they are at work, like the rest of their neighbours. Commuter towns and villages provide a fruitful environment for burglars, who know that most people are not at home to challenge or observe them. With a hard hat and high-vis jacket on, most people would assume they’re on official business so the CCTV and video doorbell could be invaluable assets here. Joy and Peter should introduce themselves to their neighbours as soon as possible to build that network of support and to become familiar with who should be there, and who shouldn’t. Joy and Peter also need to hide those boxes and packaging or take them straight to the tip rather than leaving them in plain sight as an advertisement to thieves.
Helena: Helena lives in a property that has great security features, although it is worth noting that keypad entry systems for flats often have a “tradesmen’s” button that allows access to the building without anyone having to buzz them in. When Helena leaves her flat door propped open while she nips out creates the ideal opportunity for someone to nip in and enter the building (slipping in after she goes through the main door) and then into her flat, either to steal what she has right away, or to conceal themselves until she is asleep, giving them more time to get all her valuables. Helena should lock her flat door every time she nips out, and could even change her routine to take the bins out when she leaves for work, and check her post when she gets home rather than leaving both these chores until it is dark.