Christmas is the busiest time in the burglar's calendar, but whether you live in a gated community, country estate or roof-top apartment, keeping your home secure is all about weighing up the risks and treating your security like layers of an onion, says Rick Mounfield
Your aim is to deter the criminal and encourage him (most burglars are male) to move on to a house which may provide more cover.
Criminals do not want to get caught and risk conviction and even imprisonment, so they will weigh up the risk versus the potential haul. By making a home as inaccessible as possible, a homeowner is likely to send the criminal packing without even realising the house was under scrutiny.
Your next aim is to impede access, ideally before the intruder reaches the house. Your perimeter walls may be restricted in height due to local authority regulations, but you can ensure your garden does not offer as many places to hide; gardens also cast shadows at night which can allow intruders to approach the house unseen. The threat has to be measured against aesthetics; not many of us want to live in a beautiful home surrounded by razor wire! However, thorny plants such as bouganvilia are attractive and are also not strong enough to climb.
If a criminal does decide to approach your house, fixing doors and windows which are capable of resisting attack until police arrive will not only keep the intruder outside but the difficulty of breaking in is likely to mean he will simply give up as the challenge is too great; if our measures failed to deter him on first sight, the objective is now to impede his progress.
Measures external to the house include additional window locks that cannot be opened even if the glass is smashed and the lock can be reached as well as security doors with multi-point locking systems and a solid core which will withstand an attack for longer than a wooden or UPVC door.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a particularly tenacious intruder who isn’t put off by your security arrangements and breaches your external protection and managing to force a way into your home, aim to further impede his movement. Depending on individual security arrangements, a homeowner could have a safe where valuables are kept or even a citadel or safe room where the family can seek protection. If the criminal decides the risk is worth it, make it as difficult as possible for him to reach his goal, be it valuables or the family themselves.
The last internal layer protects the family and most valuable possessions and may include high-quality and insurance-approved safes and safe rooms or citadels.
If the criminal does breach your defences, then the third objective is to detect, hence the use of equipment such as IDS and CCTV enabling the homeowner’s security partners to identify the intruder’s location as well as obtaining evidence.
Thinking of your home as an onion, homeowners can approach each layer one by one to deter, impede and detect intruders. Obviously, the best solution is to deter the would-be criminal but by implementing measures which also impede and detect, homeowners are less likely to fall victim to crime. Incidentally, there is a natural fourth step, intercept, however, we advise clients to err on the side of caution and leave that to the police!
Rick Mounfield is Operations Director at security company Blackstone Consultancy