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Home and garden security

Thieves look for opportunities to prey on vulnerable and older people. But it is possible to dramatically reduce burglaries by taking simple security measures to deter burglars and remove some of the opportunities that present themselves as easy targets.

West Mercia Police offer information about home and garden security and how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of burglary.

Home safety assessments are available from Herefordshire Council's handyperson service. The team can also install smoke alarms, safety and security items and undertake small household repairs. There may be a small charge for this service depending on your circumstances, visit our adapting your home section for more information about this service.

Fit good quality locks to doors and windows – and use them. Keep windows and doors secure when you are elsewhere in the house. Fit a door chain and screen callers at the door carefully.

Make sure spare keys are left with someone you trust rather than hidden away – burglars always know where to look.

Burglaries are rare but most happen when your home is empty.

  • Use timer switches (available from DIY shops) to turn on lights, radios and other appliances when you’re out.
  • Keep all valuable items away from view of passers-by.
  • Don’t advertise your absence when you’re on holiday, or even when out at work or shopping.
  • Get a friend or neighbour to look after your home when you’re away, by collecting your post, drawing your curtains at night and generally making the place look lived in. Offer to do the same for them.
  • Overwhelming evidence suggests that alarms are an effective deterrent against burglaries. Alarms work because they attract attention and buy you time, preventing the thief from taking their time to burgle your home. Modern alarms are really reliable and can be set when pets are in the house too.

Burglars could use any ladders or tools you have lying about to help them get into your home, so keep them locked away securely, and make sure your shed is secure. Theft from garden sheds is increasing.

Make sure fences and garden gates are not easy to get access through. For example don’t have bolts at the top of a gate and make sure the gate is as high as the fence around it. Ideally, rear fences should be at least six feet tall.

Planted protection is also helpful: thorny shrubs planted over or against potential access routes such as walls and fences, make an effective and attractive barrier.

If someone calls at your door:

  • Check to see who it is by using the spy hole if you have one, or look through a front window. If you have any suspicions at all, don't let them in.
  • Don't open the door if you are not expecting or do not recognise the person.
  • Genuine callers often ring first to make an appointment and will always carry an identity card.
  • If they have no identity card and you don't know them, don't let them in - don't be fooled by a sob story or made to feel bad.
  • Never agree to an unrequested appointment for a sales presentation of any kind, whether it is for goods or property repairs. Often they might claim it is just a survey or no obligation quote - but this is likely to be untrue.
  • If you open the door, always use a door chain or bar before you open the door. (If you don't have one it's a good idea to get one - they don't cost much).
  • With PVC doors, it can be difficult and costly to fit a door chain or limiter, so check with the manufacturer that one will be fitted before you purchase it. The council's handyperson service may be able to help with fitting locks for chains, to find details of the handyperson service please visit our adapting your home section
  • Check the identity card carefully and keep the chain on while you do this.  Genuine callers won't mind if you close the  door while you check. You can always ask them to call back later to give you time to check with their organisation that they are who they say they are.
  • Watch out for anyone who says they're in a hurry. Don't let them pressure you.
  • Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs.  Beware of one distracting you at the front door while the other gains entry at the back of your property. The best practice is not to let them in and keep your back door locked at all times.  Please take a look at the section on doorstep selling and rogue traders.
  • If in doubt call a neighbour, friend or family member.