Here's our guide to keeping your home safe from burglary. Find out which locks to fit and how to keep your garden secure
We understand that being burgled can leave you feeling shocked and vulnerable. Your home insurance policy will usually provide cover for burglary (subject to certain terms and conditions).
But even so, having your home broken into is an unsettling experience. Here are some tips we've compiled to help you keep your home safe.
Be cautious with your keys
Here are our top five tips for keeping your keys safe:
- Don't leave keys in their locks, whether it's windows or doors don't leave them somewhere visible. If you have a key rack, keep it out of sight of windows and don't leave window keys on window sills
- Don't leave a spare house key in an obvious place. Inside a letterbox, under a doormat or plant pot - if you can think to look there so can a burglar, don't take the risk
- Don't leave keys unattended at work, your colleagues may know where you live and making copies doesn't take long
- Never keep your address with your house keys. If you live in rented accommodation the letting agents may have put it on the key chain so make sure you take it off once you move in
- Always change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen, especially if your address is with them
And don't forget about your locks either! Check our our guide to choosing the right types of locks to secure your home.
Gardens, garages and sheds
It's not just your home that contains valuable items - many people's garages and sheds are an Aladdin's cave of expensive belongings such as bikes and lawnmowers. So it's important to keep your garden, garage and shed safe too!
Think about the kind of things kept in your garden and if they could be used to break into your home.
Loose bricks and garden tools are commonly used to aid break-ins; make sure tools are locked away at night and when no one's home. Likewise, keep ladders firmly locked to an immovable object and, wherever possible, keep wheelie bins secure as they could offer burglars a handy leg up over walls or into windows.
Try to view your garden and home like a burglar would - if you can see a weak spot the chances are they can too. If you have a fence put trellis on the top of it; it won't be strong enough to support a burglar's weight if they try to climb over and falling off may attract enough attention to put them off.
If you have a long driveway or path, think about putting down chippings - a potential burglar could be deterred by the unavoidable underfoot crunching.
When it comes to garages and sheds make sure you keep them locked, especially if your garage has a connecting door to your home.
Top tips for keeping your garage and shed safe:
- Fit strong padlocks and hardware to shed and garage doors and make sure they are strong enough not to be kicked through
- Install a lockable steel box or anchor post to the floor for storing expensive equipment
- Secure locks or bars to windows
- Install lighting - exterior lights are off-putting for thieves. Fix them near doors and at the rear of your home in a high spot - keep them out of reach
Have you thought about insurance? Admiral Home Insurance can cover theft from an outbuilding, your garden's contents and garden plants.
Read more about Admiral Home Insurance.
Home security while you're on holiday
Holidays are a time to relax, unwind and forget about any stresses at home. However, you're not alone if little worries about your home filter in while you're lying on the beach.
Once you're over the worry that you didn't switch the gas off, you may be concerned about your house being left empty for a week or two.
And while you'd never be able to leave the house if this was a major concern, there are a few things you can do before you jet-off to help protect your home during your break.
Here are a few simple tricks to help keep your home safe while you're away:
- If you know and trust your neighbours, let them know you'll be away. Ask them to keep an eye on your property and if they don't mind, collect your post and put away your bin after rubbish day
- Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries so they aren't sat on the doorstep - this is a sure sign of an empty house
- Think about getting a few timers so you can set your indoor lights to come on at different times. Set different rooms to different schedules so they come on in a more realistic pattern
- Leave curtains and blinds open. A closed blind in the day, especially through summer, is a great way to make it look like no one's been home. Keep them open as you usually would, just make sure all expensive items are out of sight
- Stay off social media. It can be tempting to holiday-boast on Facebook or Twitter, but don't forget anyone can see that information. Wait until you're home to post your holiday snaps
- Be careful who you tell - if you book a taxi to the airport don't say how long you're away for and make it sound like you have a house-sitter
Former Crime Scene Investigator, Alex Iszatt, worked with Admiral to help raise awareness around social media safety while on holiday. Take a look at our interactive infograph for more information about home security and social media.
Protect your home from burglars
According to West Yorkshire police, one in four burglaries occurred because the property was insecure. To keep your home as safe as possible, try these simple steps which could make a big difference in avoiding the risk of burglary.
Top 9 tips to secure your home:
- Lock all windows and doors: this includes any upper levels and side gates. Even leaving a window slightly ajar could be enough to entice a criminal
- Lock ladders away: don't leave a ladder outside which could provide easy access to your home
- Don't leave valuables on display: close your curtains in the evenings. Though it's nice to put presents under the tree, if they're visible from outside it's probably best to keep them tucked away for as long as possible
- Outdoor lighting: motion sensing outdoor lighting will light up the outside of your house when anyone approaches. A well lit house isn't an easy target for crooks creeping around
- Gravel: if you're thinking of sprucing up your front garden or driveway, using gravel provides an extra security benefit. No burglar will be able to approach quietly with a gravel entrance
- Friendly neighbours: if you're away for a few days and know your neighbours well, ask them to keep an eye on your house. Tell them not to mention that you're away if anyone asks them
- Light switch timers: police advise leaving a light on to deter burglars. A light switch timer will allow you to turn your lights on and off when you're out of the house
- Anti-climb paint: this is also known as non-drying paint or anti-intruder paint. A thick oily coating applied to your garden fence gives a smooth gloss finish but remains slippery indefinitely, helping prevent any intruder getting a foothold as well as covering them in paint!
- Keep valuables safe: if you have any particularly expensive or sentimental items such as jewellery, you might want to consider putting them in a safe.
Burglars want to be in and out as quickly as possible. Any deterrents you can put in place will make this difficult and help keep your home safe.
Does my home insurance cover me for theft?
Insurers offer different types of cover to suit your needs:
- Home insurance covers both buildings and your contents
- Buildings insurance covers the building only
- Contents insurance covers only your possessions
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the average contents value in a three bedroom home is £55,000. The ABI gives this great advice on how to value the contents of your home. Or you can use our Contents Calculator for guidance.
Keep your home, family and valuables protected by making sure you have the right home insurance cover for you.
What to do after a burglary
- Report the theft immediately to the police and get a crime reference number which will help with the insurance claim and any potential issues around identity theft
- Don't touch or move anything until the police have investigated
- Cancel any stolen cards straight away, and report any other loss such as a stolen cheque book to your bank. Likewise if your passport or driving licence is missing, inform the issuing authority
- If your mobile phone has been stolen, alert your phone provider so they can put a stop on your account
- Repair any damage caused by forced entry and make sure all doors and windows are secure
- Contact your insurer's claims department as soon as possible to report the claim, preferably with your insurance number to hand
- Make a list of all items damaged or stolen and gather any evidence you have regarding these items such as purchase receipts, photographs, valuations etc. It will aid the claim process if you are able to provide an estimate value of the claim
- Do not dispose of any items as they may be needed for inspection
We understand that being broken into is one of the worst things that can happen to you. With our help and advice, we can at least help you get back on track as soon as possible.
- Keep 'Beware of the dog' signs on display to deter thieves
- If you have a burglar system in place make sure you use it. Some home insurance policies may insist on this so check the policy schedule
- If you don't have an alarm and are considering installing one then look for a NSI (formally called NACOSS) or SSAIB certified installer. Choose a pin which would be difficult to guess (don't use your date of birth) and keep it a secret
- Get involved with a Neighbourhood Watch scheme or set one up if there isn't one already in the area. If you have any specific worries ask for a visit from your local Crime Prevention Officer
- If you live in a shared building or flats be careful of granting entry to people by entry phone systems if you don't know them. Be vigilant when it comes to people following you into the building
- If workmen or unexpected callers arrive, always ask for ID and if you don't feel satisfied call the company they say they're from before letting them in
- Consider fitting a spy hole or safety chain to your door
- Use an ultraviolet pen to mark valuable items with your name or address so the police can trace stolen items more easily
- Always keep valuation certificates and receipts as it helps your insurance company validate your claim if you have proof of ownership and value (your insurance company may ask for this information within the first 30 days of the policy anyway)
- Note serial numbers for electronic goods
- Take photos of items without serial numbers as a photo of a rare or unique item could help your insurance company repair or replace it