Keeping your home or business safe under lock and key is important all year round, since burglary and other property crimes don’t go on holidays. It is, however, more important to consider fortifying the security of your property during the winter months for a few simple reasons.
The shorter days and longer nights of the cooler winter months create more opportunities for burglars to act under the shroud of darkness, and the holiday season in particular can be a vulnerable time since many shops close and some homeowners travel abroad to spend time with loved ones.
Perhaps the last thing you’d want is to come back from holidays in Tenerife, Madeira, or someplace sunny only to discover that your home or business has been burgled and your valuable contents pilfered whilst you were away.
Below are a few quick tips on how to secure your doors and windows this winter.
Property security risks during the winter
The main risks associated with property security during the winter include:
- Longer nights means more darkness, allowing burglars to act unseen;
- The festive season can be risky for home security if nobody is present (e.g. on holidays abroad) and for business owners if the business is closed;
- The presence of Christmas gifts and other valuables may give burglars a greater reason to try breaking into homes;
- During a snowfall or blizzard, accumulated snow could obstruct the visibility of motion-sensing lights & CCTV cameras;
- Snow, fog, or otherwise poor weather could obstruct the clear visibility of burglars trespassing onto property;
- Security systems such as burglar alarms & CCTV cameras may not function properly during particularly cold days or may set off false alarms if not properly calibrated.
How to secure your doors this winter
For most homes and businesses in the UK, the first line of defence against an intruder is the main entrance door. Most burglars in the UK are opportunistic and most will attempt to enter by the front door, so having a robust set of door locks is absolutely essential. Moreover, it is essential that the door locks are actually engaged! Many homeowners leave the doors to their property unlocked whilst at home, practically inviting burglars right in.
While there aren’t any specific tips to secure your door specifically for the winter, the sheer importance of having good door security remains relevant any time of the year. Consider the below tips for securing your exterior doors:
- Upgrade your locks to British Standards approved locks such as BS3621-approved 5-lever mortice locks for wooden doors;
- Install a quality deadlock and/or night latch to further bolster security;
- Reinforce the door (speak to a qualified domestic/commercial locksmith for advice for your specific door);
- Install a peephole or a smarthome-compatible door viewer;
- Install a smart doorbell and consider modern smarthome technology that includes a door viewer;
- Always keep your doors locked, whether you’re at home and especially if you aren’t.
How to secure your windows this winter
If most burglars in the UK attempt to enter properties by the door (which makes sense), how else can burglars enter a property? In around a quarter of all burglaries, the burglar attempts entry via the windows.
Unlike with door locks, window locks aren’t necessary on all windows on your property. Windows that can be reasonably accessed by a burglar (e.g. basement suites, ground level windows, windows near tree branches that can be scaled, etc.) should be secured, as well as windows in rooms where toddlers are present.
Consider the following tips for securing your windows this winter:
- Install sash jammers or robust window locks on any windows that need to be secured;
- Remove accumulated snow if it can be climbed to access a window;
- Install double glazing for better insulation but also to resist forced entry;
- Businesses such as shops should consider security grilles and/or shutters to protect vulnerable windows when the business is closed;
- Install window sensors and have a monitored burglar alarm system for your business to immediately alert police if your business has been broken into.
Layer your property security with WIDE(N)
A good perennial security strategy should focus on crime prevention. Consider that a lock serves two main functions: it prevents unwanted entry, but it also acts as a visual deterrent to many burglars. If a home or business appears to be secure, opportunistic burglars will be far less incentivised to have a go at trying to breka in.
The WIDE(N) action plan from Neighbourhood Watch is a comprehensive, layered property security strategy that involves 4-5 main tactics for greatly increasing your property security whilst also deterring and preventing property crime. Properties that apply WIDE(N) have been shown to be 49 times more secure against burglar than those without, and many of these tips are relevant to the winter as well:
With nearly a quarter of all burglaries occurring through a window, it is essential to have sturdy windows equipped with window locks or sash jammers to prevent unwanted entry. Most windows for homes, especially older windows, come with espagnolette locks which may be ‘good enough’ depending on your circumstances and preferences. Double glazing can also act as an additional layer of defence whilst improving insulation within your home.
Businesses should consider protecting their windows with security grilles, shutters, and burglar alarm systems calibrated to go off and/or alert nearby police if the window is smashed.
Although the purpose of home and business security is to prevent unwanted entry in the first place, interior security features can deter burglary attempts in conjunction with locks and other security measures.
Consider installing timed lights within your home that are set to turn off and on intermittently when you are not present. If a burglar has reason to believe that nobody is present, they may be more emboldened to force their way into the property. Leave Christmas lights on after dusk to give the impression that someone is home.
Nearly three quarters of all burglary attempts take place via breaking in the exterior door, so naturally, securing your door with high-quality locks is a must. See our tips above for how to secure your door for the winter and read more about how to choose the best locks for your home or business on our blog.
The exterior of your property can be important as a first line of defence against burglaries and property crime, perhaps preventing any trespassers from approaching the door in the first place.
Home security can be increased by installing a fence and gate at the property line, as well as installing home security systems including CCTV cameras and motion-sensing lights. Lighting is especially important during the winter as the days are shorter and lights can expose any trespassers whilst eliminating any blind spots on your property.
If snow is substantial during the winter, make sure to clear out snow and to shovel it in a mound or embankment that cannot be used by burglars to hide or climb into a window. Lastly, bushes and shrubs can be used strategically directly outside of low windows to deter burglars, but keep them well-pruned and trimmed so that they don’t act as a hiding spot, either.
Businesses can benefit greatly from CCTV and/or burglar alarm systems such as monitored alarm systems that notify police authorities if unwanted entry is detected. This can be particularly beneficial if your shop or business is closed during the Christmas holiday period. Motion sensors, exterior lighting, bushes, and other security features can also be effective as they are for homes.
An optional but nonetheless important security tactic is to garner the trust of your neighbours. If you’re going away on holidays, it may be wise to notify a trustworthy neighbour that you will not be present so that they can keep an eye on your property whilst you’re away. You could also entrust a neighbour with a key and perhaps have them come over to care for your pets or to water your plants, for example.
This isn’t always possible, however, and sometimes it may work against you to notify others that you will not be present, so use caution and only disclose your plans with trusted family members and neighbours. Neighbourhood Watch, the group that put forth the WIDE(N) programme, can also be worth joining if available in your community.
Lastly, if you are anticipating any deliveries from Amazon or Argos, for example, such as Christmas gifts or Black Friday specials, make sure someone is available to receive the package or entrust a neighbour or family member to collect it.
Bonus tips for securing your home or business this winter
Here are a few bonus tips on how to secure your home or business this winter:
- Whenever (or if) snow falls, be sure to clear out snow quickly. Accumulated snow can give an indication that nobody is present and thus attract opportunistic burglars;
- Appoint a trusted friend, neighbour, or family member to claim any delivery packages that might arrive at your home or business during the holiday season;
- Upgrade your windows to double-glazed windows before it gets too cold;
- Keep any expensive-looking Christmas gifts out of view from your windows;
- Avoid making public announcements on social media that you will not be present, e.g. going on holidays;
- If going away on holidays or shutting down your business for a few days or longer, ensure that all doors and windows are locked and secured prior to leaving.
Keep your property safe this winter with dependable locksmiths near you
No matter the time of year, no matter where you live in the UK, Rated Locksmiths has dependable 24/7 emergency residential and commercial locksmiths near you. Our network of vetted and approved locksmiths in the UK is your number one choice for home and business security. Upgrade your locks this winter with the help of one of our reliable locksmiths near you.