Surrey Police: Crime Prevention
Please take a few minutes to read advice provided by Neil Clarke, who works as part of the Surrey Police Community Safety Team:
During the winter months there tends to be an increase in reports of burglaries of domestic dwellings and thefts from garages, outbuildings and from motor vehicles.
In my work, I am asked to visit people who have been victims of a burglary. It is sad to report that in many cases homes remain regrettably insecure. One in three burglars do not have to force their way in – they have gained easy access through an insecure door or open window.
In most, if not all, cases we find that access has been gained at the rear of a property at ground floor level and this is often because access to the rear is not restricted by locked gates or fencing. Any gates should ideally have bolts fitted at waist height to prevent someone reaching over and opening the gate easily.
Whilst it is impossible to prevent this type of crime from happening in every situation, there is so much that householders can do to make their property a less attractive target to burglars.
Burglars prefer to “work” unobserved, so having a clear line of sight from the roadside to a property makes it less attractive than a home where there are high fences or hedges, where a would-be burglar will not be readily seen.
Having some effective, low-level, exterior lighting can also provide a deterrent effect, as it removes areas of shadow which are so popular with burglars. Dusk-till-dawn exterior lighting can be very attractive and cost-effective, as it generally uses low wattage bulbs and it also removes the need for people to switch exterior lights on and off.
If your home is going to be unoccupied at any time after dusk, the use of some simple timers to bring on lights in a staggered pattern can convey the impression that there is someone at home. This has been shown to be an effective deterrent, as burglars never want to meet their victims and only rarely target a property where it appears that anyone is there.
Also, I would emphasise (as I have done in the past) that any residents of Mole Valley can request a free home and property security survey. All you have to do to contact me is call 01483 630809 or call 101 and ask to be put through to me on extension 30809. You can also send an email and I will get your message to call you back to arrange an appointment.
I will always focus on practical advice that is sensible and relevant to each individual’s situation. I do not promote any specific products or companies and can often suggest relatively simple ways that people can use to make their homes less attractive to a would-be burglar.
Gates and fences are the first signs of a secure home and act as a good deterrent to intruders. Make sure they are in good repair.
- Keeping your front gate closed sends a psychological message of privacy, so consider investing in a gate spring.
- Ensure that side access to the rear garden is secured with a 2 metre high fence and gate. You can fix trellis topping to your fence as it makes climbing difficult.
- Ensure ladders are either put away or secured and bins can’t be turned into climbing aids
- For a perimeter fence by a public path or other vulnerable area consider defensive or prickly shrubbery on your side of the fencing.
- An outdoor light operated by sensors can be used to make intruders feel vulnerable and observed.
- Illuminate areas such as the front, side and rear of your home
- Make sure passers-by can see the front of your home by cutting your shrubs and bushes to 1m so burglars can’t work without being seen.
Home security alarm systems can be used to strengthen physical home security measures. They can be used as a deterrent and a means of summoning help if somebody breaks into your property.
When investing in an intruder alarm it is advisable to have it professionally installed. Do not consider cold callers or telesales inquiries and avoid when it comes to choosing your alarm company. If you have serious doubts about the legality or sales techniques contact the Police or Trading Standards for advice.
There are two main types of alarm systems to consider for your home:
- When the alarm is activated it operates an internal and/or external siren to call attention to the property.
- These systems can be DIY or professionally installed
Remotely Monitored System
- When the alarm is activated it sends a signal to a central monitoring station who in turn will automatically call a key holder of your choice, and if you require it, the Police
If you choose a police response alarm it must be installed and maintained by a company that conforms to the ACPO security systems policy, and whose business is subject to inspection by a UKAS accredited body.
Currently only two such organisations are accepted by the Police. These organisations will give you details of member companies who operate in your local area.
Choosing your alarm:
- Check the address and credentials of the company and proof of identity from their representative
- Obtain written quotes from at least two companies
- Ask if they can supply you with a list of police rules for monitored alarmed premises
- Request a written confirmation that they are registered with the Police force in your area
- The company needs to operate a 24-hour call-out service and emergency attendance within four hours
- Obtain written quotes from at least two companies
- If the installation of a security system is an insurance requirement, check that the security company is acceptable to your insurer
Operating your home security alarm system:
- Make sure the installer explains the operation of your system
- Read the instructions and ensure you, and those who use the system are familiar with the alarm
- Arrange for a responsible person to hold keys to your home and be able to operate the alarm
- Where audible-only systems are installed, neighbours should be aware and agree to report any activation that appears to be accompanied by criminal or suspicious activity
- False alarms should be investigated and the cause corrected or the system modified
- External sirens and bells should not operate for more than 20 minutes. Excessive noise and frequent false alarms can irritate neighbours and lead to complaints.