Good exterior sensor lights can be an effective burglar deterrent. They ensure that anyone approaching the house will be automatically illuminated, as well as the area around them.
The most efficient way to deter opportunists and catch them red-handed is to install a floodlight camera. This handy device looks like any other spotlight, which makes it perfect to discreetly monitor your driveway and garden.
The best floodlight cameras have a built-in PIR motion detector, which triggers a 950 Lumen light and recording. Thanks to the bright light and night vision, the device is perfect for the darker periods of the year.
OTHER WAYS TO SECURE YOUR OUTSIDE
Smart alarm systems use wireless technology to allow you to monitor a property at any time, from anywhere in the world. They are connected via WiFi, and many have a battery backup, and controlled through a smartphone app. The biggest advantage of smart alarms is their customisability and accessibility, as well as the fact that most elements can be installed by you and are portable, so great if you rent. Brands like ERA Protect give you the control to build your own bespoke system, or you can choose from pre-built systems for home s of different sizes. All of the devices are water and weatherproof, protecting your home regardless of outdoor conditions.
One of the most practical smart accessories is a siren. It protects the outside of your home and the garden and provides a great visual deterrent. Even just the sight of the security device can successfully avert burglars who don’t want to risk triggering the alarm. It is important to install the siren high enough on the front wall of the building so it's easily visible from the pavement. Always make sure that the siren is loud enough to alert you and your neighbours in case the alarm gets triggered. For example, the ERA Protect Battery-Operated Live Siren emits a loud 104dB sound and comes with flashing lights, indicating that the system is armed 24/7.
Replica sirens are a cost-effective alternative to live sirens. Make sure that replicas look exactly the same as the original alarm so the potential burglar can't easily distinguish them and identify the deception. ERA Protect Replica Siren, similarly to a live siren, comes with flashing LED lights to deter burglars 24/7.
When choosing a smart alarm system for the outside of the house, check that all of the devices are weather and waterproof. Some well-known brands, like ERA Protect, give you a guarantee that all smart security accessories are water-resistant to IP55 international standards.
Find out more on a CCTV page
WALLS, HEDGES AND FENCES
The location and appearance of fences, gates, trees, and hedges determine whether a property is a high or low risk for burglars. You want to eliminate hiding areas or easy ways of gaining entry. Overgrown bushes and trees at the front and side of your property can make it easier for a burglar to get in unnoticed.
It helps to have good visibility into the front garden, so low fences (around 1m high) are good. Still, high walls or fences (1.8 metres or 6 feet tall) provide maximum security at the back. Fitting a trellis or plastic spikes to the top of a fence makes climbing more difficult. Barbed wire, razor wire or broken glass is not recommended on walls or fences. If a person injures themselves on it, you can face prosecution under the Occupiers Liability Act – even if the person was trying to enter your property without your permission. You can protect your property with a prickly bush - hawthorn, pyracantha, and holly are all excellent examples of anti-trespass hedges.
Gravel driveways and paths are better burglar deterrents than paved ones, as it is hard to disguise the sound of someone crunching on loose gravel.
Side entrances should be secured with lockable gates – that are kept locked. If possible, gates should be fixed with the hinges attached to the wall of the building and should be level with the front of your house so they can be seen. Their height should match the rear fence so that any burglar attempting to climb or force the gate will be seen from the road or nearby houses. Ensure the hinges are secure and that the gate cannot simply be lifted off them.
Alley gates are lockable gates installed to prevent access to alleyways, such as those that run along the rear of older-style terraced housing in the UK. Studies show that there is usually a reduction in police-recorded burglaries where alley gates are used.
However, alley gates usually have to be made bespoke to the size and requirements of the thoroughfare, so they can be prohibitively expensive. Also, as the homes adjacent to the gated alley are generally left to operate the gates, this can cause friction among neighbours.
Of course, if the alley is a public right of way, you can't just block access to it. And even if it is privately owned, every property owner who borders the alley must agree to have the gates installed. It isn't always easy to get this agreement, especially in areas with many rental properties.
If there is concern about using an alley, such as antisocial behaviour and consensus among residents to try and tackle the problem, collectively approach your local community policing team or local authority to consider your options, rather than installing gates on your initiative.
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
Ensure you remove or lock up garden tools, ladders, wheelie bins, dustbins, piles of rubble or anything else which might help an offender climb or break into your home - and remind your neighbours to do the same. Using a security pen or scribe, mark expensive tools and implements with your postcode.
Lock your ladders away inside a garage or shed to prevent thieves from using them to access upstairs windows. If you can't, padlock them securely and horizontally to a sturdy bracket on an outside wall. Do the same with your wheelie bins, as these can be used as a climbing aid or for transporting stolen goods.
Battery or mains-powered shed alarms are commonly available in DIY stores – or extend your main burglar alarm to include your outbuildings.
Don't leave the packaging from expensive new items, such as laptops or games consoles, outside the bins or poking out the top. This clearly signals to a burglar that something is worth stealing inside your home.
VEHICLES AND KEYS
Never leave car keys in the garage with the car! Always keep your car keys out of sight in the house, but we don't recommend you take them into your bedroom at night. If a car thief breaks in to find your car keys, it's better they find them without encountering you or your family. Remember if you have smart keys or a keyless car, make sure you keep them safe.
If you have a garage, use it for your car. Consider fitting gates or security bollards onto driveways to secure vehicles on the drive (check with your planning office for any restrictions). You can buy 'garage defenders', which bolt into the ground in front of the garage and stop it from being opened until you unlock it and drop it flat. Ensure it's Sold Secure gold or silver standard.
Lock bicycles and motorbikes to a ground anchor point within the garage or shed and use a good-quality D-lock or chain – cable locks are quickly snapped with bolt-cutters. Again, look for Sold Secure approved locks; gold-rated ones offer the highest level of security. Use an additional chain or cable lock to secure the frame to the wheels.
ERA Home Security, our Primary Smart Security Sponsor, provided their expertise to help us create the content and links to their products. There are other products available on the market.