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These few simple steps can make all the difference to home security.

Byline: By Colin Law

Securing your home can significantly reduce your risk of being burgled and just a few simple measures can make all the difference.

According to the most recent British Crime Survey, properties with little security are 15 times more likely to be burgled than those with good security. But that doesn't mean you need to install eight-foot fences and guard dogs - here are a few simple steps to make sure your home really is as safe as houses.

One good rule is to ensure your house is as secure as your neighbours' (and preferably more so). Another is not to give thieves the chance to get in: 80% of burglaries are committed by amateur opportunists who are in and out within ten minutes. A quarter of break-ins are a result of unlocked doors or open windows - a common problem in summer months.

Under lock and key

The single most important step is to fit good quality locks and bolts to all doors and windows. A traditional Yale-type rim latch is not enough to secure a front door on its own; ideally it should also have a 5-lever mortice deadlock made to British Standard (BS) 3621 or the equivalent European Standard EN12209. The Era British Standard 5-lever Mortice Sash Door Lock is available from B&Q for pounds 23.68. All exterior doors should have bolts fitted at the top and bottom. Install key-operated window locks where they can be seen.

Hide and sneak

Never leave car or house keys near the front door, burglars know all the hiding places and are adept at fishing keys out through the letter box. The letter box itself should be at least 400mm from the door lock. Burglars often enter via the garden, so it's a good idea to fix a high trellis above vulnerable fences and think about adding a few prickly plants.

Safety in numbers

It helps to be vigilant. If your street has a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, join it. If you're going away, cancel the delivery of milk and newspapers, and ask someone trustworthy to remove post from the front door. Give them a key and ask for curtains to be drawn and lights to be put on at night.

Keep things light

Security lighting, such as motion-sensitive lights, are useful for guarding your outdoor space.

The Sorrento Floodlight Wall Light is an outdoor movement sensor light with 360[bar] detection angle, a range of 5m and adjustable dimmer controls - available at B&Q for pounds 34.98. But make sure you angle any outdoor lights downwards so you don't create light pollution or annoy your neighbours.

Look out for automatic timers that turn interior lights on and off while you're away, such as the Friedland Dusk/Dawn Lamp holder, a simple device that screws into a light fitting and turns it on when darkness falls - available at B&Q priced pounds 8.98.

Wired for sound

Government figures show that 60% of burglaries carried out on homes with burglar alarms are unsuccessful. There is a wide range of alarm systems on the market, including wirefree alarms that work via sensors and transmit radio detection signals - wired alarms are usually cheaper, but take longer to install.

The SA1 wirefree security alarm is available from B&Q priced pounds 99.98, complete with an infra-red system that detects movement up to 12m away and a siren and strobe lighting to alert you to any disturbances.

The top ten ways to protect you home are:

1. Keep your keys away from the front door and out of sight

2. Make your home look occupied while you're away

3. Fit deadlocks to all exterior doors

4. Install visible window locks

5. Don't leave doors and windows open or unlocked

6. Mark valuables with your name and address

7. Install security lighting inside and out

8. Fit a security alarm

9. Plant prickly hedges and lock up garden tools

10. Join your Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Hundreds of DIY jobs are covered in the B&Q 'You Can Do It' book - the complete step-by-step book of home improvement.

No task will be too great with comprehensive advice from the professionals and easy to follow instructions, giving you the practical skills to build, renew, create and repair.

Designed to give everyone the confidence to 'do it themselves' this must have book is available at B&Q stores for pounds 16.98.

If you need additional advice on home security you can ask a member of staff at your local B&Q store.

Alternatively, visit the B&Q website www.diy.com where you can get further information on DIY projects, gardening, and product information.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 30, 2005
Words:780
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