How to Secure Your Home – Home Security Tips

Methods that criminals use to carry out residential burglary are changing over time, but the way they choose their targets remains largely the same.

While you cannot predict exactly how burglary methods will evolve, you can reduce the likelihood of your home being targeted.

Eliminating opportunity is vital. Most break-ins occur during daylight hours as burglars understand people may be out at work or running errands, so it is important to lay down precautions for all hours of the day. There are a number of effective strategies you can take to secure your home. Our comprehensive guide of updated home security tips will help you find ways of preventing your property from becoming a target and give you peace of mind.

Read our Home Security Tips

Front & Back Door Security Tips

Your doors are arguably the most important first line of defence for your property. Brute force is a common method used to break into a home. A well-placed kick on a fibreglass, wooden or uPVC door can compromise the lock, make a dent, or cause the door to break away from its frame. You can invest in a more heavy-duty locking system, but this is insufficient if your door isn’t strong enough to withstand external force being applied to it in the first place.

Opt for a Steel Door

  • Steel doors have a solid core made from wood, resin or strengthened cardboard. They can also include galvanised steel internal reinforcements to provide further strengthening. This core is bonded between the interior and exterior metal leaves, making it stronger and harder to kick in.
  • Steel is naturally heavier than other door materials and consequently requires stronger door hardware, locking systems and frames to support its weight. As a result, this makes them stronger, and more rigid and makes it a lot more difficult for intruders to brute force open your door.
Example of a Cottage Style Steel Door

Our selection of steel-manufactured high-security front doors come in a variety of styles and strong 19-point locking mechanisms for greater security – starting from £599.99+VAT

Check for Warping & Cracking

  • Wooden and uPVC doors are much more sensitive to weather fluctuations and time decay, and will gradually lose their structural integrity as they age. As they start to lose their shape, they can leave gaps around the door causing it not to close properly or fit its frame. This will leave easily accessible leverage points for intruders.

    Steel doors do not warp or crack. They are unaffected by moisture, particularly if treated (galvanised) to avoid corrosion, and can withstand much greater temperatures. Choosing a steel door will offer better protection against weather elements, ensuring longevity.
  • Use Door Oil or Varnish

    For wooden doors, keep an eye on any early signs of warping. Ensure your door can resist warping by applying a door oil or varnish. An oil can nourish the wood from inside the grain and enable resistance against moisture. A varnish will provide a waterproof seal.
  • Realign Your Door

    Cheap uPVC doors can warp. Check the gap between the door and the frame – open the door slightly and at the lock side, see if the gap is consistent all the way up and down the door and frame. If your door meets at the top but there is a gap at the bottom then it could just mean an adjustment to the hinge is needed to pull it back into shape.

    If your door meets at the top and bottom of the frame but not in the middle, your door is most likely to be warped and needs replacing.
Example of a Latham's security back door

Fix Faulty/Exposed Door Hinges

  • Theoretically, a burglar can “tap” an exposed hinge pin up and out, lift the door off its hinges, and remove the door without unlocking it.
  • Use Butt Hinges with Non-Removable Pins

    These are pins that cannot be removed from the barrel. An intruder would have to cut the barrel off the hinge completely if they want to get the door off the opening.
Close up of a Latham's stainless steel hinge

Stainless Steel Door Hinge – £9.99 +VAT. Our door hinges are made from heavy-duty materials featuring robust, stainless steel ball-bearing hinges and non-removable pins. (only suitable for our steel doors)

  • Use Dog Bolts (Security Studs)

    For further protection, dog bolts (or security studs) add fixed locking points to the hinged side of the door leaf, slotting into the frame as the door closes. The stud on one leaf mates into a hole on the other leaf.

    The door cannot be taken off its hinges as the studs will hold it in place. Even if the pin is removed from the barrel (or if the barrel is cut off the hinge), the door will remain secure as the two leaves will still be locked into one another. This may deter a burglar as they would have to pry the frame away from the door to detach it from its opening.

4” x 3” Stainless Steel Butt Hinge – £3.75 +VAT
Avaialbe from our sister company, Latham’s Hardware. The bolt adds a fixed locking point to the hinged side of the door leaf.
(Not suitable for steel doors)

Dog Bolt/Security Stud – £3.00 +VAT
The bolt slots into the frame as the door closes, locking into
one another and securing the door.
(Only suitable for our steel doors)

  • Use 3-Inch Long Screws

    Hinge screws can wear out over time and become loose, the main function of a hinge is to open and close the door however they are also used to support the door’s weight. Faulty (or shorter) screws are at risk of falling out over time or being prised/bashed out of the hinge. To ensure this doesn’t happen use hinge screws that are at least 3 inches long. It is also advisable that hinge screws used on front doors should be made from a strong, non-corrosive metal such as stainless steel.
  • Lubrication & Readjustment

    You may not necessarily have to replace your hinges altogether if they are faulty. Lubricating the hinges, or tightening the hinges via a screwdriver are easy ways of maintaining your door hinges.

If you’re investing in a steel security door, be mindful to use strong steel hinges to support the door’s weight. Weak hinges run the risk of the door snapping off at the hinge. We recommend purchasing any replacement hinges from the supplier. Alternatively, you can consult a locksmith before making any readjustments or retrofits to your door hinges.

4x3 inch door hinge range

We stock a variety of durable and robust door hinges to suit residential properties, including butt hinges, decorative and tudor tee hinges – perfect for gates, sheds and interior/exterior doors – starting from £3.20 (inc. VAT).

If you’re investing in a steel security door, be mindful to use strong steel hinges to support the door’s weight. Weak hinges run the risk of the door snapping off at the hinge. We recommend purchasing any replacement hinges from the supplier. Alternatively, you can consult a locksmith before making any readjustments or retrofits to your door hinges.

Replace the Glazing

  • If your front door has a single-glazed window, we recommend that you replace the glazing in favour of thicker glass, either toughened or laminated. Glazing which features a laminate coating is ideal as it means the shards hold together when the glass is broken making it difficult for an intruder to pass through.
  • Consider using security glass film which goes over the glass to hold it together in the event of it breaking, making it difficult to get through when broken.

Upgrade your Euro Cylinder Locks

  • Lock-snapping (an attack method burglars use to exploit and snap the weak centre of the cylinder) is a growing concern. Euro cylinder locks are the most common lock profiles in Europe. Some brands are equipped with anti-snap, anti-drill, anti-pick and anti-bump technology to combat any tampering attempts.
  • Double-cylinder locks have a key cylinder on both sides of the door. This means a key can be used to lock and unlock the door from either side.

    This lock format is usually used for doors requiring higher security, such as front or back doors. In the event a burglar breaks the glass in your door, they would still need a key to unlock the door, unlike a thumbturn cylinder which can be unlocked from the inside without a key.
  • You should use a euro cylinder lock that fits the door correctly and does not protrude too much from the door’s profile. If any part of the cylinder is exposed, it is a potential vulnerability.
  • Fix a security escutcheon over the euro cylinder to protect it.

Buy Certified Locks

  • Look for euro cylinders with Sold Secure (SS312) Diamond Standard, TS007 3-star approved (British Standard Kitemark) & BS EN 1303 accreditations.
  • These are the most popular standards of strong, robust euro cylinders available on the market that have anti-snap technology and are well worth investing in.
  • For more information on euro cylinder locks, read our ultimate guide here. Alternatively, if you would like to learn more about the best anti-snap locks and certifications currently on the market, read our reviews here.

Install Steel Doors with Multi-Point Locking Systems

Multi Point Locking System

Steel security doors are available with strong, secure multi-point locking mechanisms. This locks the door into multiple points on the door frame with a turn of the key, giving a higher level of security.

At Latham’s, we’re proud to sell highly secure front doors that feature 19 locking points as standard. Typically, the more points your multi-locking system uses, the more secure your door will be.

Typically, the multi-locking system is controlled by one euro lock cylinder so it’s also important to ensure that this has the following qualities:

  • Anti-snap – tested to confirm their protection against “lock-snapping
  • Anti-bump – protects against attacks which involve the use of adapted keys to rotate the cylinder and apply torque to open the door
  • Anti-drill – protects against drilling attempts by using hardened steel pins in the barrel and plug
  • Anti-pick – protects against picking with special anti-pick spool pins

It’s also important that it’s the correct size and fits flush to the door so that a thief cannot get any purchase on it with pliers or similar tools.

You may also consider some form of coded lock or one that works using biometrics for a keyless solution (see ‘Smart Locks’).

Install Deadlocks (or Deadbolts)

Deadlocks (or deadbolts) are by far some of the best door locks available and should help to prevent kick-in attempts, or increase the amount of time it takes an intruder to kick the door down.

Cylinder Mortice Deadlock
  • A deadlock is a locking mechanism that is manually operated by the turning of a key or thumb turn. They are considered to be highly secure locks that are difficult to open, due to the fact that they are heavier and thicker than your standard spring latch (the kind you see in a doorknob). Spring latches can be pushed back manually, while deadlocks require a significant amount of force to pry the bolt back.
  • You may need smaller or larger sizes depending on the size and thickness of your door.

Put your mind at ease by investing in our door locks. We stock a broad range including deadlocks, sash locks and rim cylinders.

Protect the Letterbox

  • ‘Fishing’ is a common tactic used by burglars where they feed a coil or hook through the letter box and unlock the door from the inside. If your door has a letter plate, you can guard it by installing a letter cage over the letter box or fitting a windowless door.
  • Alternatively, avoid using a letter plate and add a mailbox to the wall next to your door.

Reinforce Sliding Doors

  • Sliding doors present a special problem as they are often in the back of the house, and their locks tend to be weak.
  • Add a High-Security Deadbolt Lock – Add a deadbolt lock to your sliding door, or you can embed a lever mortice sash lock into the rectangular pocket cut out of the edge of the door.
  • Mortice locks are one of the most secure forms of residential hardware available, although most sliding doors come with these already built-in.
Cylinder mortice sashlock

Mortice locks can be described as deadlock or sash locks, and refers to a hole or recess cut that allows the lock to be inserted. A deadlock is a mortice lock which has just a keyhole and a bolt – a sash lock has a bolt, a latch and a pair of handles.

Security bar
  • Install a Security Bar – In addition to your main door locking mechanisms, this is a metal bar placed behind the door which creates a durable blockade for anyone who would try and open it from the outside. It strengthens the door frame and adds reinforcement to the pre-installed locks.
  • Install a Drop Bar Kit Drop bar kits are a physical solution, whereby box section metal bars drop into metal brackets which are fixed onto the door or frame, depending on whether the door opens inwards or outwards. They are by far the most effective solution for improving your door security, which can be installed in under 5 minutes.
  • Use Shatterproof Window Film – Sliding glass doors are easily smashable. We recommend shatterproof window film – a polyethene coating that keeps a shattered glass door from completely falling apart.
Window Film

Window Film – Image: Amazon

Alternatively, you can use window laminated glass. This is a type of safety glazing constructed by uniting two sheets of glass with a sturdy yet flexible PVB interlayer, and then applying heat and pressure to create an inseparable bond. It offers a tough, robust structure that is hard for an intruder to break.

If you are looking to further improve your front door security, you can find more recommendations on our blog here.

Window Security Tips

  • Replace Your Windows With Double Glazing – If your windows are made from single-glazed glass, consider upgrading them to double-glazing to give that extra layer of protection. When installing new windows, make sure they are in line with the British Standaard 7950 or PAS 24. This is a security standard that can only be achieved after a product has been thoroughly tested and assessed for high-security performance levels.
  • Fix Faulty Window Locks – A window handle or keyed lock getting stuck or feeling loose is a sign that the lock is malfunctioning. To avoid the risk of an intruder easily forcing their way through, you can replace the locks – as opposed to replacing your entire window altogether.
  • Make The Glass Stronger – Install safety glass or window laminate/film. This is a great alternative which is constructed from two sheets of glass which are bonded together with interlayers to create a permanent bond. Should a burglar attempt to smash through, this layer of extra protection will make it harder to break the glass out of the frame.
  • Consider Installing Window Shutters – A solid stable window covering, usually consisting of a frame with vertical stiles and horizontal rails. They are a great solution for any privacy or security concerns and can protect against any intrusion attempts.

Window Security Shutter – Image: Amazon

Garage Door Security Tips

Unfortunately, this is another easy way for intruders to gain entry, especially if the garage is connected to the house. Many people tend to overlook their garage door security and put more effort into securing their homes.

  • Lock All Doors & Windows – Double-check that all doors and windows are securely locked. It is vital that you lock any interior doors in your garage that lead into your home. That way, an intruder cannot access your home, even if they manage to break into your garage.
  • Opt for an Electrically-Operated Garage Door – There are various methods burglars can use to penetrate a garage door. We recommend investing in an electrically-operated system with a garage door opener. These not only provide greater security but allow you to control the door at the press of a button. If connected to a home automation system, you can check the status of your garage while you are away and control it remotely. Never leave your garage door opener in your car or somewhere it can easily be stolen. Consider keeping it inside your house.
  • Opt for side-hinged steel garage double doors – Double steel doors weren’t typically considered for your residential garage entrance until they were manufactured with aesthetics in mind. Latham’s offers a security garage door without visible astragals and other traditional industrial steel door features. They are becoming more popular over time.
  • Add locks to your existing garage door – There are garage door security items (such as garage door defenders and T-handles) and multi-point locking systems that you can purchase to add more security to your garage door. Your supplier will be able to tell you more about these.

Motion Lights & Detectors

Image: PixaBay

The last thing a burglar wants is to feel like they’re on display when breaking into a home. Installing outdoor motion light detectors will switch on when they detect movement and will make a would-be burglar less likely to risk approaching.

For this reason, they are a great visible deterrent and can act as a first line of defence.
Crimes of this nature are often ones of opportunity, having outdoor lights mounted and out of reach may encourage the intruder to move along.

  • Invest in Motion-Sensor Lights – Rather than keeping your main outdoor lights on, motion light detectors will illuminate the general area when they sense movement. It will catch any burglar off-guard and potentially scare them off.
  • Alarm System – Alarm systems can come with built-in motion detectors. They can be programmed to alert you whenever they sense movement on your property. You can also buy smart home automation systems that switch lights outside and inside your home at the press of a button, or scheduled at certain times. A well-lit house not only indicates that there is someone home but makes any suspicious activity clearly visible to you and your neighbours.

Smart Home Security Systems – Alarms, Locks, Lights & CCTV

Image: PixaBay

Smart home technology generally refers to any device, appliance or system that can connect to a network and can be independently controlled remotely. This can range from:

  • Smart Locks
  • Indoor & Outdoor Lights
  • Security Cameras/CCTV
  • Home Thermostat
  • Audio Speakers
  • TV Sets

There are big advantages to having a smart home automation system. The flexibility, energy efficiency, and convenience factor is enormous. Being able to monitor and keep all your technology controlled through one interface is a massive step towards enhanced home management.

Most importantly, incorporating a smart home system will maximise your home security. There are a few options to choose from.

Smart Locks

Lock-snapping is a common problem many standard doors and euro cylinder locks face. A smart lock removes the need for key operation and can be more secure by using unique biometric identification technology.

Smart locks are suitable in all kinds of scenarios such as bedroom doors, kitchens, front doors, and so on. They can be controlled via Bluetooth or WiFi connection, simply by the press of a button. They can also be scheduled to unlock automatically at certain times.

Different brands of smart locks support various unlocking methods such as; fingerprint, WiFi, Bluetooth, magnetic key/card, voice activation, and so on (all methods a burglar would need access to in order to open your door).

Smart Lights

Switching on lights at various times is an effective method of fooling a burglar into believing someone is home.

Smart light bulbs contain software that connects to an app, home assistant, or other smart accessory which allows you to control them by the press of a button, or automate them to switch on at scheduled times.

Alarm Systems/Motion Sensors

A visible alarm system or motion sensor actively discourages intruders from approaching your home, for fear of triggering an alert. Smart alarm systems allow you to conveniently arm and disarm your alarm system from anywhere via a smart device. The alarms will activate a siren when movement is detected. The app will also send you notifications/alerts to your device when it is triggered.

Always make sure you switch the alarm system on when leaving the house. You should evaluate the quality of the alarm before purchasing to ensure its reliability.

Security Cameras/CCTV

The main advantage of a CCTV system is that it tells burglars that they are being watched. A well-maintained CCTV system is one of the most powerful and effective ways to prevent intruders from entering – but can also alert you if there is a break-in.

They can be installed in out-of-reach places to avoid any tampering and cover key entry points. Depending on the supplier, they may also alert local authorities on your behalf.

There are plenty of affordable CCTV options to best suit your security requirements. Modern home security systems come with smart features that let you control the doorbell, alarm and cameras from your smart device. This means you could be out at work, or halfway across the world, and still check to see who is at your front door or on your property.

Visible deterrents work well, so if purchasing an alarm is too expensive, we recommend getting a ‘dummy’ alarm. This is essentially a fake model that looks like an alarm. There are different options that can be purchased on Amazon. Latham’s sells a dummy camera for £5.99 (inc. VAT).

Audio Speakers

Letting some noise play in the house will give a burglar the idea that someone is home. Most radio or smart audio speakers have voice activation software that allows you to control them. You can also use a smart device via Bluetooth or WiFi for control. You may also set automatic timers to turn audio speakers on and off in various parts of the house.

Landscaping & Upkeep Security Tips

A solution to deterring a burglar can be as simple as a little gardening and upkeep.

Keep Your Shrubs & Bushes Trimmed

A burglar’s goal is to remain hidden at all times. Any overgrown shrubs and bushes around your home can offer protective cover for suspected burglars.
Leaving any gardening or outdoor home maintenance can be a big indication that the house is vacant, which can encourage a burglar to target your property.

Eliminate any cover spots by simply keeping shrubs and bushes trimmed. Bushes should be no taller than three feet, this means you and your neighbours can see your garden clearly and notify you of any suspicious activity.

Use Thorny/Spiky Plants – not sure about this??

Intruders may attempt to reach a window to gain access to your property. When adding shrubbery, we recommend going with thorny/spiky plants. This is particularly important when planting under a window. Thorny bushes can provide a big inconvenience and act as an obstacle for intruders trying to climb through.

Holly bushes, roses and yuccas are some of the many plants that can act as this kind of obstacle.

Any trees with branches that scale or earn access to a window or balcony need to be cut back. Some people grow thorny flowers on their trellises to discourage burglars from climbing them.

Fences are a questionable feature as some can guard entry, while most can be a hiding place for burglars. Rear fencing, preferably 1.8 metres high is a quick and easy way to protect your home. Front fencing is a more elaborate process requiring planning permission and should be no taller than 1 metre. Also, consider planting thorns on each side of your fence to discourage intruders from climbing it.

Mow the Lawn

Aim to cut the grass on your lawn as regularly as possible. A well-kept lawn will tell a burglar that you pay close attention to detail, indicating you may also pay attention to your home’s security. This also goes for shovelling your driveway in the snowy or icy winter months.

Use Gravel

Image: PixaBay

Burglars don’t want to be seen or heard when arriving on the property. If you have mulch, replace it with gravel or a different noisy alternative. This will deter burglars looking for quiet entry.

Hide Valuable Items

Image: PixaBay

Some burglars like to scope out potential targets ahead of time. If your valuables are easy to see from the outside, there are some methods you can use to make your home less inviting to criminals.

  • Remove the View of Any Belongings: Make sure that any belongings are not visible. Try rearranging some of your furniture to block the view of any possessions left out, or hide them away in a safe and secure containment, such as a safe. Remember in the evenings to close your curtains or draw your blinds to prevent people from looking inside. This is especially important when you are away from home.
  • Don’t Leave Items Outdoors: Don’t leave expensive tools or bikes outside. Stow them away in the garage. If you can, try to park your car in your garage rather than outside overnight.

Home Insurance

Most insurers will insist on a minimum level of security before they will offer you coverage. This can range from any device that makes your home safer – such as deadbolt locks, a burglar alarm system or CCTV, etc.

You will probably find that your insurance company expects you to have locks on all accessible windows, although some don’t make this a requirement. Installing locks on all ground floor windows, plus any accessible by climbing a drainpipe or wall, will increase the number of companies likely to cover you. Check with your insurance professional for more information.

Protection While You Are Away

Use Smart Lighting

Image: PixaBay

There is emerging research that claims leaving your indoor lights on indicates to a burglar that nobody is home.

Burglars will scope out your home before attempting to rob you. They will be looking for patterns and behaviours that show when there’s an opportunity to break in. If you leave the lights on in the same rooms, that will quickly be spotted.

You could change which rooms you leave a light on to try and fool a burglar.
We recommend, however, a home security system that comes with smart lighting controlled via an app or smart device.

Smart lighting is by far a more effective method of deterring burglars and ensures that when something out of the ordinary is happening while you are away, the lighting will come on. You can also remotely switch your lights on and off in a normal pattern, to create the illusion that someone is in. This can draw attention from your neighbours and, more importantly, create panic for the burglar.

Install a Video Doorbell Camera

If a burglar approaches your door to see that you have a doorbell camera installed, they’re going to think twice and likely pass your house for an easier target. A doorbell camera is a handy device that not only improves the security of your home but acts as an excellent visual deterrent.

The camera allows you to see who is at your door and also communicate with them. This is the perfect way to help detect and deter intruders at your front door. Should the worst happen and your house gets broken into, it can provide valuable video footage which you can show to the authorities.

 Organise Mail

Image: PixaBay

If you are planning on going away for a long period of time, make sure to have a neighbour or family member collect your mail. Mail piling up can be an indication that the homeowner has been away for a while. You can alternatively have the post office forward or hold mail deliveries for you.

Keep Your Spare Keys Safe

Image: PixaBay

If you normally place your spare key under a doormat or potted plant, you may want to rethink this. Burglars know these are popular hiding spots and they will be the first places they’ll look. Consider leaving your key with a trusted neighbour or friend. Alternatively, you can place your key in a concealed combination safe or lockbox, or other unexpected location away from your door.

Consider a Safe

In the unfortunate case that a burglar succeeds at breaking into your property, it is important that you make their job even harder by concealing valuables somewhere not easily discoverable.

Consider purchasing a safe or lockbox where you can store items such as; important documents, cash, keys, jewellery, electronics, and other big token items.
The burglar will be looking for a quick and easy payday, so put a stop to that with a little extra caution.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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