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What should you be doing to keep the burglars out of your home?

TheJournal.ie spoke to a security expert about what we should be doing to stay safe.

FOR MOST PEOPLE the thought of being burgled is a terrifying one.

Despite figure for burglary across the country falling last year there was still more than 2,000 incidents happening each a month.

It can be hard to know exactly you should be doing to protect yourself from intruders and what is enough protection to guarantee safety.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Richard Boland from Home Secure explained what we should be doing to keep ourselves safe at home, and some of the common mistakes people make.

People need to be safe in their homes – but don’t you think the falling crime figures are cause for optimism? 

RB: At the moment if you look at it there are over 26,000 burglaries in Ireland a year. Burglaries – they say that they haven’t increased, but there is a tendency for people not to report a lot of the burglaries that happen. They don’t even contact the gardaí.

Beside contacting the gardaí if an incident does occur – what else should people be doing? 

RB: Ideally, they should be buying a home secure mounted alarm system, putting external lights around their house and using timers to switch on the lights at night-time.

What if people are on a budget? What is the cheapest way to make the home safer? 

RB: Go to Woodie’s or somewhere like that and buy one of those sensor lamps that come on when it goes dark. These are good because you can also set them to come on at different times. You can have one upstairs and one downstairs.

shutterstock_78788638 Timers can be used to switch lights on at night Source: house at night via shutterstock

That lamp module is just €10. All you do is just plug it into the electrical socket, plug the lamp into it, and then set a timer for it to come on. [Burglars] think there is someone in the house and if they are keeping an eye on it and they see the lights going off and coming on in the different rooms.

Seems like good advice. Are there other small things people can do to stop break-ins? 

RB: Don’t leave ladders unsecured at the side of the house. A ladder should be padlocked because it is giving them access to upstairs windows. Often people will have a ladder lying in their back garden. It leaves it open for a burglar to put it up the side of the house and climb in an upstairs window.

The ladder needs to be padlocked and attacked with rawl bolts to the wall.

That seems like sensible advice. But aren’t some of these burglars hardened criminals? Is padlocking a ladder not a bit like putting a plaster on broken leg? 

RB: Thieves don’t walk along the streets with crowbars like you see in the films. These are opportunistic crimes. They look for open windows, open doors. If they break into the back of a house and the shed is lying unlocked – they can open up the shed and use a shovel or a bar to prise open a window to access the house.

Ideally what sort of precautions should a person be taking to keep their house safe? 

RB: They should be putting a burglar alarm in, they should be using dead bolts and cylinder locks, and they should be putting window locks on their windows.

We do a standard alarm system for €499, that would do a standard three-bed house. Nobody is going to get into the house with that. If you had a larger house it might need an extra one or two sensors.

Aren’t there always issues with the gardaí always getting called out to non-incidents? 

RB: Say a child hits the window with a football – the owner of the house and the key holder will be contacted. With that they will know there is no one inside the house because the motion sensors in the house, the beams, haven’t gone off.

If the window alarm went off – and then there was a motion sensor inside the house, they’d know then that somebody was after breaking through a back door or window and was in the kitchen.

In that case they [the alarm company] would ring the police immediately and be able to say that it is a verified alarm crisis with two activations. Gardaí do respond to all of them. They are not obliged to respond to just a phone call for a break in. But they have to respond to a monitored alarm.

And what about all these ‘fishing’ burglaries? I hear people have been ‘angling’ for car keys? (geddit?)

RB: There were 200 of them reported to the gardaí last year. You don’t leave your car keys just inside the hallway door. Bring them up to bed with you, or put them in a drawer.

All you need is something long and thin and the telescopic fishing rod is very handy. You just put it in through the letterbox. And they can then put whatever they get into their pockets as they are walking away. Don’t leave the keys in the hallway.

Richard Boland’s tips for making your house more secure

  • Make sure that your shed is locked and any ladders are secured. 
  • Lights with sensors or on timers can deter thieves.
  • Install a motion-sensor alarm system in your home.
  • Use external motion fitted lights.
  • To avoid letterbox fishing attacks do not leave valuables near the door.

Find out other ways to upgrade your home here. 

Related: Over €35 million worth of property was stolen from Irish homes in the last year

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