July 24, 2020
If you want to sleep peacefully at night, you need to know that you and your family are safe from harm. And while break-ins are not something you want to think about, security is a big consideration for any homeowner.
According to WA police crime statistics, there have been between 23,000 and 28,000 dwelling burglaries every year in Western Australia for the last 10 years.
Whether you’ve just moved house or you’ve been living in your home for years, there are many simple improvements you can make to give your security a boost, from fitting an alarm to installing security screens. First, let’s take a look at some general advice about security in WA.
Security in WA
Where is the best source of information to find out where homeowners are going wrong with their security? From the burglars themselves!
This Budget Direct guide contains interesting information about burglaries in Australia from a 2015 study where police detainees were asked about why they broke into properties. The burglars provided information on the key mistakes that they came across in Australia – mistakes that made their “jobs” easier.
The biggest mistake, which 70% of burglars commented on, was leaving doors and windows open. It’s pretty obvious when you think about it – an open window is an invitation to a burglar.
In descending order, here are the other homeowner mistakes highlighted by burglars:
- Having only minimal security
- Backyards that were easy to enter
- Detectable keys
- Using fake security systems
- Environmental design
- Having skylights
So if you have any of these issues in your property right now, you could be attracting some unwanted attention.
How to Put Off the Thieves
While the burglars helpfully provided information on what attracts them to a property, they also provided something arguably more useful: what puts them off.
In the research, over 61% of burglars said that a barking dog was an effective deterrent. Following that, just over 49% said that a functioning alarm system was a big turn off.
Other factors that caused them to think twice about breaking in included:
- Having sensor lights outside
- Leaving lights on inside
- Having grilled windows and doors
- Having a property that is visible from the road
- Using gates
As you can see, some of these are relatively simple, but they could have a big impact on whether a burglar decides to try and enter your property.
Respondents also identified two important areas that they use to determine whether to target a property:
- The amount of activity
- How attractive the property looks
A house in an affluent neighbourhood, for example, might be more tempting for a burglar. If you keep an expensive car outside or have valuable items that are easily visible in a window or the yard, these might generate some unwanted attention.
As for activity, a house that looks to be unoccupied is more appealing to burglars. Common signs include no lights on inside, no vehicles outside and an overflowing mailbox.
Invest in Your Security
Now you know a bit more about what makes a property appealing to burglars and what can help to put them off, it’s time to consider the security of your own property.
There are lots of changes you can make to improve your property’s security. Here, we take a look at some investments you can make, whether you’ve just moved into a new place or you have been in your home for years.
1. Tech Improvements
There are several technology solutions that allow us to improve our home security. Here are some of the best options to consider.
It’s hardly new tech, but the humble sensor light or security light is still incredibly effective. Simply install one at the front and back of your house, and as soon as someone moves within range, it will turn on. This could be enough to scare off most burglars who would prefer to operate unseen.
Installing a burglar alarm is an easy deterrent for any would-be burglar. But make sure the alarm is highly visible. Ideally, you want to put the burglars off so they don’t even attempt to break in, and a visible alarm makes it clear that your house is not an easy target.
A good security camera can also help to put off burglars. After all, no burglar likes the thought of getting their face on camera during a break-in.
You could also consider a modern internet-connected security system. Some of these allow you to sign-in using your phone to get a live view of your home, while others may alert you when motion is detected.
Do you like to leave your spare key somewhere you can find it if you ever get locked out? While it may be convenient, it also presents a security risk. Another option is to use a key safe.
These small wall-mounted boxes can be attached to the outside of your property, and they are designed to withstand tampering. So you can simply enter your password to open the safe and get access to your keys.
Video doorbells are getting more common and allow you to clearly see who is at the door before you open it. While it won’t help to prevent burglars when you are out, it can give you an added element of protection.
Some doorbells are even smarter – they can send you an alert when they detect movement so you can see what’s going on outside.
You can get smart plugs or programmable timers that turn devices like your TV on and off at certain times. Using one of these, you could programme your lights to turn on at night, which is especially useful when you go out.
2. Objects in the Home
There are steps you can take to protect personal objects and valuable items in your home. That way, if someone does manage to break in, there’s less chance they will get what they are after.
A safe is a classic security device that you can use to store cash, passports and other valuable items. Thieves are often looking for easy wins, and if they have to break into your safe to get to your valuables, there’s a good chance they will give up.
Invest in a good safe that can be attached securely to the floor or wall so it can’t be stolen. You could even get one that is hidden beneath the floorboards to prevent burglars from getting what they want if they get into your home.
Even if you don’t have a safe, keep your valuables well hidden. Cash and jewellery will be at the top of the list for burglars. They will look in most places, but the longer it takes them to find what they want, the less chance they have of sticking around.
Mark Your Valuables
It’s also worth using UV security marker pens to mark valuable items like your computer and TV. Write your address on them, and then if the police do manage to get the items back, they can quickly find out who they belong to.
3. Secure the Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are the easiest ways to get access to your property, for obvious reasons. So what can you do to make them more secure?
Fit Secure Locks
The simplest thing you can do is make sure every door and window has a secure lock. Then make sure you use them, especially when you go out! Windows especially can be open invitations to thieves when they are not properly secured.
Invest in a Security Door
Some doors are designed for the sole purpose of keeping out intruders. Dedicated security doors are often made from steel and have advanced lock systems that prevent them from being broken, so fitting one of these can give you peace of mind.
Use Double-Glazed Windows
As well as locking your windows, consider making them stronger by using double-glazing. These are harder to break into, so they won’t make it easy on the burglars.
Use Security Screens
Security screens provide an extra level of security for your windows. They are designed to keep out burglars, and they are an effective deterrent.
Any burglar coming across security screens will know that their job is going to be a lot harder. These are also an effective way to protect your home while maintaining the aesthetics of the property.
4. Yard Security
Many homeowners often forget about securing the yard, but this presents an easy win for the thieves. Follow these steps and don’t make it easy for burglars to get away with their crimes.
Secure Your Perimeters
If you can stop burglars from getting into your yard, you stand a better chance of protecting your property. You can do this by erecting a tall fence around the perimeter. Already have a fence? Then check it regularly for weak points and fix it when needed.
Install a gate as well. A secure metal gate will provide an imposing obstacle to burglars. It also helps to keep your home hidden from the road, putting off opportunistic thieves.
Secure Outside Furniture
If you like spending time in your yard, you may well leave items outside like furniture and ornaments. Make sure you secure them by anchoring them to the patio or wall.
This is especially important in the front yard. Thieves might risk picking something up and walking away if they happen to pass by, but they are less likely to spend ten minutes breaking it free.
Secure the Shed and Garage
While homeowners often make an effort to protect their homes, they sometimes don’t make the same effort with the shed or garage. Sheds and garages can contain expensive tools and furniture, so make sure you lock the doors and windows, and consider installing an intruder alarm.
Don’t Leave Tools Outside
Don’t leave tools or ladders in your yard that thieves can use to help them break in. Opportunistic thieves could easily grab a tool to help them break into your property or use your own ladder to climb up to an open window.
Choose Intruder-Proof Plants
Don’t like the idea of putting up razor wire around your property? Use plants instead. Thorny plants and hedges can be a great deterrent for thieves, and they are more attractive than wire fences. Burglars will think twice before risking getting tangled up in them.
5. Behavioural Changes
There are lots of small behavioural changes you can make to improve your home security. These everyday changes may be simple in themselves, but they can make a big difference overall:
- Don’t leave a spare key under the mat
- Arrange for a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail when you’re away
- Leave a light or the radio on when you go out
- If you go away, arrange for someone to mow the lawn to make the property look lived-in
- Don’t leave valuable items or cash on display right next to a window or door
The biggest deterrent on the list provided by detainees in the research mentioned earlier was a barking dog, so perhaps now is the time to consider getting one. Besides, dogs are great companions, especially if you live in a rural area.
It’s also a good idea to socialise with your neighbours. Your neighbours can keep an eye on your property when you go away, and they will be the first to notice when something is wrong. So it makes sense to be on good terms with them.
And perhaps the most important thing of all: always remember to shut and lock your doors and windows when you go out.
If you live out in the WA countryside, many of these security measures will still be effective. But there are other things that are specific to your situation:
- Secure farm machinery
- Disable your equipment
- Keep paddocks locked to protect livestock
- Mark your property using welding or hard etching
- Protect your fuel tanks
The WA Police Force has put together some advice for people living in rural areas. You can find more in the PDF guide on this page, which also contains useful numbers you can call.
Protect Your Home
These are some of the most important steps you can take to secure your property and reduce the risk of your home getting broken into. From making changes like installing security screens and fitting locks on all the windows to simple habits like keeping your valuables in a safe, there are many steps you can take to make your home safer.
There is always a risk that someone will break into your property. But by taking sensible precautions, you can dramatically reduce the risk that your property will be targeted and enjoy greater peace of mind.