Stephen Armson-Smith, a crime prevention officer with Essex Police, provides some practical advice to reduce the chances of your home being burgled.
Being a victim of a burglary can be very traumatic experience.
A lot of attention has been paid to agricultural crime, but don’t forget your home security. In some cases farmers, like many others, believe it won’t happen to them. “My parents never locked their doors when they went out and we’ve never had a problem,” they might say. But unfortunately times are changing.
Crime prevention officer
Farmhouses can often be empty in the day, and this is when most burglaries occur. I have called at a farmhouse before on a prearranged appointment to find nobody in and the front door open. Moments later a car arrived, the driver having just dropped a child at school and “never thought about shutting the door”. There is a strong possibility an insurance company would not pay out for any loss in such circumstances.
1 Ensure that you have good British Standard locks on your windows and doors – look for the Secured by Design and Sold Secure accreditation, too.
2 Shut and lock all windows and doors while out of the house.
3 Put all tools outside away – a burglar prefers to use yours rather than bring their own.
4 Consider an intruder alarm, either self-monitored or by a certified receiving centre. Some can even be linked with CCTV viewable from a smartphone. Get three quotes from National Security Inspectorate- or Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board-accredited alarm companies. For added assurance, look for the Trading Standards “Buy with Confidence” scheme.
5 Where possible build fences and gates at the rear of your property. Fencing and gates should be at least 1.8m high. Lock the gate, too.
6 Display rule-setting signage to tell visitors where they are not welcome, especially where the public have access to the farm
7 Permanently light the front of the house with energy-efficient, external lighting, activated by a dusk-till-dawn sensor so that as you approach your house at night you see all is well before you arrive, and the burglar is discouraged from approaching by the light. Other areas can be manually lit or activated by passive infrared sensors. If no one overlooks an area or will see the light on, the only person to benefit from lighting elsewhere is the thief.
8 Create the illusion of occupancy with lights on timers in rooms you would normally be in – especially important when the dark nights draw in. Leave a radio on; there is even a fake TV that flashes lights resembling a TV being on. Wellington boots outside the door, newspaper and glasses on a chair by the window all help create the impression you are in.
9 Have a safe and lock your valuables in it. Failing that, have two jewellery boxes – one containing “sacrificial” jewellery (needs some good stuff) on display and hide the rest in a really good hiding place. Hopefully a burglar would find the box on display and does not look any further and you keep your treasured items. Don’t forget your firearms, either – don’t risk someone getting their hands on them and losing your licence – always lock them away in a suitable cabinet.
10 Security-mark your property with your postcode and house number or the first three letter of your house name, there are also a number of “forensic” marking solutions available with IT-activated or download security and tracking programs.
For further advice, contact your local crime prevention officer using the national police non-emergency telephone number, 101.
There is a rural crime awareness day on Tuesday 18 November 2014 at Layer Marney Tower, Layer Marney, Colchester, Essex CO5 9US. It will provide members of the farming and rural community with information on crime prevention and security, and feature exhibitors of products and services to assist in preventing crime.