Keep opportunists thieves locked out as the dark nights draw in

With British Summer Time soon drawing to a close and the nights drawing in, now is the perfect time to start thinking about protecting your property.

Whether you are selling your house or preparing to move into a new home, safety and security are paramount.

Home Office crime figures (2010-2011) show a 14 per cent increase in domestic burglary levels – according to the most recent British Crime Survey on the subject. So don’t give the burglars any opportunity to strike when the clocks go back. Independent estate agents and valuers Harrison Murray have some practical tips and advice.

Development director Jackie Scotten said: “As we move further into autumn and winter, the days and nights are obviously getting darker, but we aren’t suggesting that people live in fear.

“It is simply about adopting a practical, common sense approach in assessing safety measures in your existing or new home.”

– Lighting. Consider installing motion-sensitive lighting fixtures above front doors, porches, garage doors and entrances to back gardens. Fit timers to indoor lights when you are out for the evening or going on holiday.

– Codes. If you are moving into a new property, familiarise yourself with the alarm and set a new passcode.

– Securely bolt or padlock side/ back gates.

– Be letterbox aware. As vehicle theft becomes more sophisticated and often to order, thieves turn to letterboxes to obtain keys. Make sure you put these and other valuables out of easy reach and sight of the front door.

– Put your mark on valuables with a UV pen – a discreet way to identify your items if they are stolen.

– Sheds. Many sheds are used to store cycles, garden equipment and tools. Ensure you have a sturdy padlock on your shed door. The same goes for your garage.

– Don’t get caught out online. Be careful about what personal information you divulge on social media. Opportunist thieves are turning to Facebook and Twitter to target unsuspecting victims, so don’t give too much information away regarding your whereabouts. Never reveal that your property is empty.

– Be a good neighbour and join the local Neighbourhood Watch group. If you are new to the area, this is also a great way of getting to know your neighbourhood and meeting new people.

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