How to improve the security of your home

A burglar attempting to break into a property through a window. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

A burglar attempting to break into a property through a window. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos - Credit: Archant

Windows, sheds and garages are all vulnerable to break ins. Here’s how to turn your house into a fortress – without making it look like Fort Knox

1. All windows on the ground and lower ground floor, and any others that could be targeted by an intruder, should be fitted with locks and, ideally, laminated glass, as this won’t break into pieces that can be removed. New UPVC and metal windows should have adequate built-in security, but wooden windows rarely come with locks, so you’ll have to fit them yourself.

2. There are locks for all types of wooden window, most of which can easily be fitted by DIYers. Many of us have sash windows, which look great, but can be opened from the outside by forcing up the bottom sash. Sash catches will secure the bottom sash, but fitting locks as well will make the windows more secure. Sash stops allow the window to be opened slightly for ventilation (or opened fully with a key), but not enough for someone to get in (providing they’re fitted at the right height), so they’re a good security measure.

3. Period leaded windows may look safe, but they’re not unless you add an internal metal grille or laminated secondary glazing. If you live in a listed building, there will be restrictions on making changes to the windows, so check with your local council’s conservation department about what you can and can’t do - listed building consent may be required.

4. Garden sheds and other outbuildings will always be vulnerable to break-in because they’re separate from the house, and thieves know they often contain valuables like lawnmowers. If you have to store valuables in the shed, mark them with your postcode and house number using a UV pen, and lock the shed with a sturdy chain and padlock or an anchor device. However, if the shed has glazed windows that could be smashed, or a door bolt or hinges that could be unscrewed, it won’t be secure without modifications.

5. Garages are also vulnerable to break-in and if they have internal access, could be an easy way in to the house. While you can improve the security of garage windows and back doors with locks, grilles and laminated glass, the main door (where the car goes in) can’t be ignored. Up-and-over doors usually have a key-operated handle, which can easily be replaced if it doesn’t work, and there are locks to suit other types of garage door. You can also fit doorstops in front of the main door to prevent it being opened, or secure it from inside with a padlock. Again, security-mark any valuables stored in the garage and, if you can, chain them together or to an anchor device with a good padlock to make them harder to remove.