Improve Your Home Security
Burglary is a crime of opportunity. Studies show that most burglaries occur during the day when high fences and shrubs obscure visibility from the street or when the building appears unoccupied. Entry is often gained through forced entry or through an unlocked or open window.
It isn't possible to make your home completely burglar proof but if you think of it from a burglar's perspective, you can quickly determine the vulnerable areas of your home.
Although most estates and condominiums in Thailand have their own security guards, do not rely on them to protect your property - for a variety of reasons. You can take a few inexpensive steps to make your home more secure and less of a target, such as the following:
Physical security features
- Both the front and back door to your house should have double-cylinder deadlocks and be made from solid core (not hollow). Install security doors on both entrances and safety chains for extra protection. Consider having a door viewer 'peep-hole' installed as well.
- Attach locks to all patio sliding doors, windows, grilles and skylights where possible. This includes all doors and windows on your garage. Replace all locks as soon as possible when keys are lost.
- Make sure your window frames are strong. There is little point installing good locks on windows with rotted frames.
- Keep external doors well lit when you are not at home. This will discourage intruders. Movement-activated floodlights are also a terrific idea. Make sure, however, that the burglar cannot access the electricity supply and thereby shut down all lighting.
- Ensuring your walls are free of attachments will deter burglars from climbing up to windows, etc. in order to enter your home.
- High fences can give protection to burglars. Try to ensure your house remains visible from the street - in this way neighbours can also keep a watch over your property.
- Position trees and large shrubs away from the house so that these do not obscure windows.
- Noisy gravel pathways can alert you to unwelcome visitors. Dogs are another wonderful way to be warned of intruders.
- If your house backs onto a rear lane, make sure that you lock your back gate at all times.
- Keep ladders and tools locked away in the shed. This will not only prevent them from being stolen, but also ensure they are not used by a burglar to assist him break into your home.
- Purchase a safe for your home to store your valuables, including personal records and computer disks. For extra protection, this safe should be able to withstand fire.
- Consider having a security system installed. There is a range of security systems on the market and you should purchase the one that best suits your home and lifestyle. You can install particular systems yourself or use a professional company.
- Close blinds and curtains at night so as not to put your belongings on display.
- Close your curtains and blinds at night. Remember that whenever the outside of your house is darker than the inside, people can see into your premises. Also close all curtains when you're out so that people cannot peak in the windows.
- Shut and lock all doors and windows when you leave the premises. Leaving only one small window open is likely to void any insurance policy you may have. Even if you are home, keep doors locked.
- Do not place valuable items where they can be seen from outside the premises. For example, don't store jewellery or CD's on a windowsill.
- Engrave valuable items with your driver's licence number or some other 'permanent' ID number. If these items are stolen, you dramatically increase your chance of having them returned by the police.
- Teach your children how to make an emergency call. They must be able to remember their name, address and phone number. Remind them however, not to divulge these details to strangers.
- Arrange for your garbage bins to be brought in by a friendly neighbour if you are at work on the day the rubbish is collected. An empty bin waiting in the street all day can suggest to burglars that you are not home.
- Leave your spare keys with trustworthy neighbours as opposed to placing them under the mat or in a pot next to the door. Burglars check these places!
- Do not tell strangers your details over the phone and also give them the impression that you are not alone. If you live alone, consider recording an answering machine message that features several names or voices.
- If you witness an intruder leaving your home, make a note of their appearance and vehicle. Take down the car number plate if you can.
- Always consider insuring your possessions. make sure that any items of great value to you are covered under whichever insurance policy you take out, and check whether you will get new for old replacement of damaged or stolen property. For more information on this aspect, check out our insurance section.
If you are away from home for long periods it is important to make your home appear inhabited. To fully protect your home you could enlist the help of friends, neighbours and relatives.
- Cancel all deliveries to the house, e.g. newspapers and milk
- Have your mail held by the post office if you are going away for a long time. Alternatively, ask a neighbour to collect it daily.
- Tell your immediate neighbours that you will be leaving the house unoccupied. They will be able to keep an eye on things for you. Leave a house key and Contact Us phone number with this person in case of emergency.
- Use a timer to switch inside and outside lights on and off during the day and night.
- Leave some blinds and curtains partially open. This will give the appearance that you are still at home.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mown and your garden to be cared for regularly if you are leaving your home for some time.
- Install a garden sprinkler system that operates by timer.
- If you are taking your car and this leaves your carport empty, suggest to a neighbour that they park there occasionally to make your home look occupied.
- Deposit valuables at the bank or with family if you do not own a safe. Why not lend your TV, VCR and stereo equipment to a friend if you are going to be away for some time.
- Most insurance policies stipulate the length of time you can leave your home unoccupied before voiding your policy. Find out the exact length of time your policy requires and make arrangements for family or friends to stay over intermittently if needed.
- Don't talk about your travel plans with strangers or service people.
- Use your work address on luggage tags so a potential burglar won't know where an empty house is.
Before you leave, tell someone you trust:
- that you will be away
- how long you will be gone
- whether or not you have a house sitter
- your Contact Us number.
What not to do
- Don't put a name plate on the outside of your house. A burglar can look up your number in the phone book and see whether you are at home.
- Don't leave a note on the front door or in the letter box telling a friend or family member that you are not at home.
- Don't leave spare keys in an obvious place.
- Don't leave cash and handbags on view from a door or window.
- Don't leave any doors unlocked when you are at the other end of the house or in the yard.
- Don't enter your home if you believe an intruder is inside. Why not leave a small amount of cash sitting just inside the door and look for this every time you enter your home? If it is missing, an intruder may still be inside your home. Go to a neighbour's house and phone the police.