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Theft is a risk facing all households, but steps can be taken to reduce it. This Hardfacts outlines some of the issues to be considered; principally from the perspective of an occupier, but some will be of application to landlords too.
There are some basic principles of security that can be deployed to check/enhance security at homes.
It can be helpful to think of home security in terms of ‘layers' or protection, each layer needing to be overcome by thieves before they achieve their aim. This concept of layered security, sometimes referred to as ‘the onion ring' principle, should start outside the home and work inwards; noting that good security usually results from having a range of complementary security measures, ideally a mix of psychological, physical or electronic barriers to entry, in place at each layer and overall. As a guide you should consider all these potential layers:
The bulk of this ‘Hardfacts' provides some examples of possible security measures at each respective layer.
The Four ‘Ds'
When evaluating the likely worth of any particular security measure at each layer, consider it with reference to the four ‘D's, that is, does a security measure do all or some of the following:
Replacement and Insurance
Subject to its availability, insurance is one means by which financial recompense for losses may be provided, so:
Insurer's Minimum Security Standards
When insurance is sought against theft, it's provision may be conditional upon homes having a certain level of physical security, often termed "Minimum Security Standard" (MSS), or maybe Minimum Security Requirement or Condition.
MSS tend to concentrate on the fitting and use of common locks on typical doors and windows and may vary according to the insurer or the type of insurance contract. The RISCAuthority, the UK insurer's technical body has published a useful guide on the subject of MSS at homes - see Sources of Further Information.
Possible Security Measures
Within the respective layers noted, examples are shown below of typical security measures that can usefully be adopted:
1st Layer - Natural Surveillance
Neighbours can be useful allies in detecting and preventing crime, so consider:
2nd Layer - Signs of Occupancy
Occupancy is a real deterrent to thieves, so when the home is temporarily unattended, e.g. during a working day/evening:
Note. If you use email, similar caution is advisable re the wording of any auto generated "out of office" messages.
Note. In similar vein, if you use a Sat Nav device do not store your home address in it and leave it in your parked vehicle especially at long stay airport car parks etc.
If you are going to be away for a longer period of time, e.g. holidays, then also:
3rd Layer - Garden/Boundaries
If a home has one, a garden or frontage is the first area a thief must cross to commit crime, so:
4th Layer - Buildings
Thieves generally look for easy pickings, so take steps to make theft more difficult, for example by:
Preventing easy entry to your home
Good physical perimeter security is essential; which is why certain types of door and window locks may be specified by your insurance company.
‘Hardfacts' Door & Window Security provides further information, but in general ensure that:
Preventing easy theft from the home
Outbuildings and Garages
These buildings may contain items that are either of attraction to thieves, or that could aid a break in to the main building, so check that:
5th Layer - Detection
Intruder alarms can deter theft, but are otherwise a reliable means of alerting someone to any break in. ‘Hardfacts' Intruder Alarms - Guidelines for Purchasers provides further information. The BSIA and The RISCAuthority also publish useful free guides on Intruder Alarms. In general terms:
6th Layer - Removing/Reducing Attraction
Theft of items can sometimes be avoided, or their attraction reduced, by the following:
7th Layer - Internal Barriers
Once an intruder enters your home, they will be looking to minimise the time spent within, so consider the benefits of hindering their further access to key rooms/valuables by:
8th Layer - Recovery
Following theft of items of sentimental and/or historic value, most owners would much prefer to recover the originals rather than seek replacements. However, without adequate proof of ownership the police may not be able to return to you any suspected stolen items they may recover, so:
Key Action Steps
Review your current security and consider the need for improvements. One useful way to do this is to imagine you are a burglar and are planning to break in, consider where you would start, what would to aim for and what might put you off?
Clearly establish what you wish further security measures to achieve and, where appropriate, chose those that have a suitable security rating and/or meet a recognised British Standard - ideally looking for one that has its compliance vouched for (tested) by an independent certification body
Use suitably accredited and competent providers for locks/safes, intruder alarm or CCTV system work. For example companies listed by the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
Ask your police crime reduction officer for advice
Seek your insurance company's approval or advice over proposed security changes, and otherwise ensure that any insurer's security conditions are observed.
Review security after any loss; if you fail to do so you are at high risk of a repeat incident
Sources of Further Information
Other Hardfacts in the Property Protection - Security Series, which are available in our ‘Knowledge Store' at www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions
Your local Police Crime Prevention Unit.
Master Locksmiths Association. Tel 01327 262255 or visit www.locksmiths.co.uk
The Door and hardware Federation (DHF) Tel 01827 52337 or visit http://www.dhfonline.org.uk/
Secured by Design (SBD) http://www.securedbydesign.com/
For intruder alarms:
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI). Tel 0845 006 3003 or see www.nsi.org.uk
The Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). Tel 0191 296 3242 or see www.ssaib.org
The British Security Industry Association (BSIA). Tel 0845 389 3889 or see www.bsia.co.uk
The RISCAuthority (the UK insurers' technical advice body). See www.riscauthority.co.uk
In particular, see their S24 guide to Physical Security for Homes
National Neighbourhood Watch. Tel 0116 271 0052 or see www.neighbourhoodwatch.net
For marking products:
European Certification Board - Safes (ECB-S). See www.ecb-s.com
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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