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Burglar proofing your home – 5 tips to consider for protection

What is burglar proofing?

Burglar proofing is designed to prevent burglars from forcing their way into your home through doors or windows. It is usually a form of physical barrier that is fitted alongside the door or window. Burglar proofing can be manufactured from steel, aluminium and other materials and can also take electronic forms. High quality burglar proofing solutions will be more resilient under attack by burglars using easily available tools such as spades, blocking them out and keeping home occupants safer for longer.

How to burglar proof your home

We all need burglar proofing at home, but we don’t all need the same level of protection from burglars. Families living on secure estates or in apartments might only need entry level burglar proofing on windows and doors to prevent petty theft of easily portable items like laptops and cellphones, or to keep monkeys or baboons out of the kitchen.  

At the other end of the spectrum are farmers in remote locations, who need a ‘heavy duty’ approach to burglar proofing solutions, including a well-designed safe zone to act as a haven in an emergency.

The rest of us are somewhere in between, requiring ideas on how to burglar proof one’s home to prevent any nasty surprises, without making it look and feel like a prison.

Here are some tips on how to burglar proof your home that apply across the board to all these types of homes.

1. Install burglar proofing solutions on every exit door

The most common points of entry for burglars are the front door, back door and garage.  We tend to leave these doors open or unlocked when we’re home because we think burglars won’t risk simply walking in when the house is occupied. This is precisely when they do come in, however, because it is so easy. They don’t have to break in or make a noise that will attract attention from the neighbours or armed response services, and if we have a burglar alarm, it is usually turned off.

Install good quality security gates inside the exit doors, front and back, and keep these gates locked at all times. This way you can leave your doors open for fresh air and sunshine, knowing the security gates will protect you from burglars.

There are many burglar proofing product choices for doors that won’t spoil your view or make your home look cluttered. Try see-through security screens with a woven steel mesh panel that your eye sees right through. Or aluminium louvre shutters that are a classy addition to your décor as well as provide security. 

Louvre shutters are an excellent choice if you live in a secure estate. Louvres designed with internal strengthening features and high quality locks do a great job of protecting you against petty theft by opportunistic burglars, with the bonus of not looking like burglar proofing at all.

Locks are often a weak point easily exploited by burglars, so ensure your security gates are supplied with the strongest locks available.  Upgrade your door locks too. Quality hardware stores should be able to assist you with suggestions for door locks.

2. Protect all your windows with burglar proofing

Fit burglar bars or grilles to all your windows, no matter how small or high up they are. It is amazing how innovative criminals can be when they are determined to gain entry to your home. That little window high up the wall is no deterrent and burglars will make a plan to get through it if it is the only unprotected window.

Don’t only secure windows that open.  Sophisticated burglars can cut out fixed window panes with very little noise, gaining easy access to your home, so protect these too. 

As with your exit doors, window burglar proofing solutions should be installed inside the house rather than on the exterior, if possible. This forces the burglar to break through the window, only to be confronted by a solid burglar proofing barrier that requires a lot of effort and noise to break through. Doing this, they risk being discovered due to the time it takes and the noise it makes, so they’ll move on to an easier home to break into.

Make sure some of your windows have burglar proofing that can be opened up in an emergency.  You don’t want to be trapped in a room and unable to get out because the windows are tightly secured.  

Product suggestions here are retractable security gates that can be fitted to windows and doors; security screens in hinged, sliding or other formats that open; louvre shutters; and roller shutter doors.

3. Install several layers of protection

Ideally, one should install ‘layers’ of security in and around the house, starting from the perimeter of the property and working towards and into the home. Exterior movement sensors, secure perimeter fencing, burglar alarms, interior movement sensors, burglar bars on all windows, sliding gates on doors, panic buttons, a safe room and armed response are all part of the list.  

This is a costly exercise, though, so begin with security gates on doors and burglar proofing on windows so that you can at least stop intruders from getting inside your home.  Add more layers as the funds become available, so that you’ll have mechanisms to warn you that people are on your property uninvited. 

If you live in a secure estate, it is usually petty theft that is a problem, so you may not need many layers. Burglar proofing on windows is often enough to prevent passers-by from nipping inside to help themselves to your valuables. Products like Polycarbonate Bars for windows, louvre shutters or clear guard security screens are perfect as they are all see-through and don’t look like security barriers.

Noisy deterrents such as large dogs and burglar alarms are a good investment as they heighten the burglar’s fear of getting caught.  Allow at least one large dog to sleep inside the house as an element of surprise should burglars get inside your home.

4. Tidy up outside

Keep your garden free of hiding places for burglars.  Trim overgrown shrubbery near the house and exterior walls or fencing.  Don’t leave garden implements or tools outside. Criminals only need a small hammer left lying around outside to break a window and get into your house.

Check that you have adequate lighting outside so that you don’t have to walk from your car to the house in the dark and replace globes as soon as they stop working.  Exterior lights are another good deterrent as criminals don’t want to be seen. Use night lights in the house for the same reason.

5. Vigilance is key

A list of home security tips on burglar proofing your home is incomplete without mentioning the most important one: vigilance. This is as simple as keeping an eye out for anything or anyone usual in your neighbourhood. Of course, you can’t accuse every stranger of being a burglar, but simply being aware they’re there will make you more inclined to keep your security gates and windows closed and locked.

Join your neighbourhood watch or get one going, and share information on a messaging group.  Areas around South Africa that have worked together successfully have cut down the incidence of crime drastically.

Keep your garage door closed and make sure you know where all your remote controls are.  If one of these is lost, ask your garage door supplier to reset the rest to avoid potential theft.  

Never leave the remote controls in your car as some thieves are able to ‘record’ your transmitter’s signal and open the door without stealing the control. Also, insist on encrypted coding or code hopping transmitters and receivers to optimize your security.

Lastly, keep track of your house keys. Make sure you know who has keys to your home and if you dismiss staff members, ensure any keys and remote controls they have access to are returned to you.

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