Home and garden security is an important concern for any homeowner or tenant, especially if their property is appointed with high quality furnishings from a provider such as Rattan Direct. Crime is an unfortunate fact of life in our society, and thieves are becoming increasingly savvy. Quality home furnishings are like catnip to burglars, and there will always be an underground market on which to sell such items. As you can see, it is incredibly important to secure your belongings.
Happily, there are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent your property from becoming another statistic. This guide will talk you through how to ensure that your property remains safe from the unwelcome attention of any intruders who may have designs on your possessions.
Home Burglary Crimes
Burglary a very common crime throughout the UK, only exceeded in many records by the catchall category of ‘general anti-social behaviour offences’. Fortunately, statistics suggest that rates of burglary are slowly and steadily dropping, having plummeted by over 70% in the last forty years. However, it remains hugely important that we all take the appropriate steps to protect our homes.
Between July 2016 and June 2017, 390,144 homes were burgled in the UK – and that’s just the incidences that were reported to the police and captured. The most heavily impacted areas were in London, which has the unfortunate statistic of hosting 80% of the postal codes that reported the highest number of break-ins and domestic thefts. As you may expect, all major cities and their suburbs experience their fair share of break-ins, including Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Leeds.
Not all burglaries take the form of balaclava-clad ne’er-do-wells sneaking into your home at the dead of night and filling a swag bag. Usually an unlocked door or window is located, and sometimes entry is forced through the front door. Statistics suggest that many homeowners have been robbed by allowing strangers posing as door-to-door salespeople to enter their homes, only to live to regret this lapse in judgment.
In fact, it may surprise you to know that most burglaries actually take place in daylight hours, typically between 10am and 3pm, and can be completed in less than ten minutes by an experienced thief. If you are at work during these hours and your house is left empty, it is well worth investing in some kind of visible home security system, especially if you live in an even slightly secluded area. Statistics suggest that burglars often live close close to their targets, and if they are aware that an alarm or CCTV is on the property they will turn their attentions elsewhere.
Once they have gained access, most thieves target the master bedroom first. The average burglar will be on the hunt for loose cash, wallets and purses, or easily hawked electrical appliances such as smartphones, laptops, MP3 players and tablets. Jewellery and shelves of DVDs and CDs will also be an enticing target for a thief, as they can be sold to pawn shops with little fuss for immediate cash.
Furniture, however, is also a popular target for organised thieves, and reports of such items being taken have steadily risen over the last ten years. With the market for used home furnishings thriving and continuing to expand through private sales or via retailers, homeowners owe it to themselves to be cautious about their hard-earned belongings.
Unfortunately, the statistics surrounding the capture of burglars is not reassuring reading. Only one in ten of these crimes are typically solved, and from there, only 5% of burglaries actually end in a prosecution. Burglaries are notoriously difficult to solve, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has recently admitted that burglaries are now considered low priority as the force concentrate their efforts on violent crime. The north of England enjoys a slightly higher success rate, with around 10% of burglaries in the Merseyside, Nottingham and West Yorkshire areas successfully solved with the thieves prosecuted. All the same, victims of crime would surely prefer some more reassuring numbers.
How about the return of stolen goods? As we have established, the police do not have a stellar record when it comes to retrieving items that have been taken from a ransacked home. There are other steps that can be taken. Go through your home and make a note of every item that could be of interest to a thief. This means recording serial numbers of any electrical items, distinguishing features and markings on any jewellery, and any other information that you can gather about your furniture; anything sold by Rattan Direct will be stamped with a serial number and other identifiable information.
If you have been unlucky enough to be the victim of a crime, use the power of social media to discover if anybody in your local area has seen your possessions for sale, and call around to any used goods dealers. You’d be surprised at how many people will be happy to help you relocate your things. Failing this, ensure that your insurance policy is completely up-to-date, and list everything of any value. It isn’t a reality that anybody wants to face, but unfortunately it is a necessary evil.
It isn’t just the interior of homes that are at risk of burglary; gardens can also be a hugely appealing target for thieves. The average garden shed will be filled with power tools and other appliances that can be sold to a waiting market. Garden furniture is also expensive and often in high demand, so a dedicated robber will be able to empty your backyard of your prized possessions in no time at all.
While the statistics surrounding break-ins of interior of homes have fallen in recent years, the flipside is that garden thefts have actually increased. As many as 1 in 7 homes have been subject to a theft from their garden in recent years. Many thieves find it easier to gain access to a home via the back garden, and while they are investigating the area a burglar will be able to fill their van with a variety of saleable goods. As with general home burglaries, certain areas are at higher risk than others, but the precautions that can be taken are universal.
Bicycles are popular targets, so ensure that your bike is always secured and stamped with a serial number for easy identification if necessary. Garden tools – especially power tools – will always have a market from private buyers and pawn shops, so never leave these in plain view. The same goes for ladders. We discussed earlier how many thieves will aim for the master bedroom when they first gain unlawful entry into a property, and so by leaving a tall stepladder in plain view you are almost inviting them to break into the higher floors of your home.
Garden furniture is the second most oft-reported item of personal theft, second only to wallets and purses. Furnishings should never be able to be easily moved (bolt or anchor them down if you can), and wherever possible, make your furniture difficult to identify from a burglar’s perspective. The kind of items supplied by Rattan Direct are hugely appealing to a thief, and any burglar will have a long list of unscrupulous buyers looking to grab premium furniture at a bargain price. It is strongly advisable to invest in furniture covers for your outdoor seats, benches and tables, as these will ensure that a thief cannot see the pickings that are on offer at a glance. Rattan Direct also supply all kinds of outdoor storage options for people without access to a shed or garage. These can be locked and secured to keep unwanted eyes (and fingers) out of their contents, and could make all the difference to the security of your garden and home.
Nobody likes to think about pet theft. The stealing of dogs, in particular, from back gardens has been rising steadily for the past several years. Can you imagine how you’d feel if somebody was able to sneak into your garden and take your four-legged friend away from you? Ensure that your dog is microchipped, but prevention is better than cure – keep dogs inside wherever possible, and certainly never leave them outside in the garden while you are not home. Dog thieves tend to work in groups and gangs, so also be vigilant about suspicious knocks on the door. Be on the look out for any chalk markings on your property perimeter – these could be a message to other burglars that the homes in question contain valuable animals. If you have smaller pets that tend to live outside, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, secure their homes as much as possible and check in on their wellbeing and safety regularly.
Above all, however, follow these simple procedures to increase your garden security:
- Lock any gates that allow access to your back garden – preferably using at least two sturdy bolts that can only be accessed by somebody inside the garden.
- Store anything of value in a shed or garage, and apply very sturdy locks to these facilities. This is particularly important when it comes to tools, as these cannot only be stolen and sold, but could also be used against you to break into your home. A malicious thief may also be inclined to use them to damage or dismantle your garden furniture.
- Bolt or anchor any garden furniture (such as a bench or table and chairs) so that it cannot be moved easily. You might think that these items are too heavy to be stolen, but you’d be surprised at how dedicated and enterprising an experienced thief can be- especially when they have accomplices.
- Cover any quality furnishings that may look appealing to a burglar. If they cannot see what wares are available at a glance, a thief will likely look elsewhere for their next target.
- Avoid high bushes and trees. You may enjoy the privacy that these provide, but so do thieves, as they make very useful hiding places.
- Consider adding a gravel path to your property. It’s very difficult to be quiet on stone, and if you hear suspicious movement in your garden you’ll be able to scare away a potential thief before they have the chance to take anything.
- Do not leave your pet unattended in your garden – supervise their playtime if they are an indoor animal, and regularly check and secure hutches and cages of outdoor pets.
How to Protect Your Furniture
So, we have covered keeping your garden furniture safe from the attentions of thieves, but how about the furnishings within your home? As we have previously established, once a thief has gained access to a home they may not be happy with simply filling pockets and backpacks with small items such as jewellery). They will eventually turn their attention to your luxurious sofas, chairs and even fixtures and fittings.
One solution to the latter could be to have bespoke wardrobes built by a specialist. This is undoubtedly an expensive option, but it pays for itself in the long run; you’ll find that you have huge amounts of space in your home that you never thought possible, and you can tailor the finished product to your precise needs. Best of all, most of these providers will build a wardrobe out from your existing wall, meaning they cannot be tipped or removed for easy ransacking. It’s hard to find a more secure option.
Of course, the simplest way of protecting the contents of your home is also to have them guarded at all times, though this is not always realistic. However, we discussed keeping dogs indoors in the previous chapter – even the smallest and yappiest hound can be an extremely useful security guard! This is especially if a thief attempts to take away their favourite comfortable spot on the sofa where they doze during the day! Even if you don’t own a dog, consider purchasing a warning sign or sticker that suggests that you do; every little helps when it comes to deterring thieves.
If you know that you will be away for a prolonged period of time, ask a friend of family member to housesit – or, at the very least, drop in from time to time. If a burglar is keeping an eye on a particular property they will be watching to see if it is unmanned. If they see people come and go at different times of the day they will know not to expect an empty house at any time. You could also invest in timed plugs to ensure that the radio plays at various times of the day, with different lights going on and off in a variety of rooms.
When it comes to securing your belongings, some of the same tactics used in the garden can be applied to indoor furniture. A storage box is an aesthetically pleasing way of keeping your house tidy, and if you add a lock it can makes a great location to house valuables, such as jewellery and electronic appliances when not in use. Anchor your storage box to a corner of the room using a lock and chain, or even weigh it down by lining the bottom with bricks or something equally heavy. If a thief cannot lift it, they cannot steal it – remember that golden rule.
Likewise, whilst furniture covers are designed for use in the garden, they could also provide invaluable protection in the home if you are away for a prolonged period. We mentioned earlier that the average burglar is in and out of a home within ten minutes. This means that they will not wish to spend their valuable time peeking under a variety of sheets and covers to discover what furniture is in your home, and whether they deem it worth the risk of loading into a van. Deterrent is everything when it comes to burglary.
And while we are on the subject of deterrents… never forget the impact of a home security system. Countless thieves and robbers have admitted that they tend to bypass homes with a visible security presence, such as a burglar alarm or security cameras. Every home should be equipped with such protective elements – at both the front and back entrances – remember how popular the theft of garden furniture is! Combining security with the ability to lock your furniture down will prove invaluable. This guide to some of the most reputable security systems in the country will shed some light on who you could potentially approach for such services – as you may expect, popular and established companies such as ADT and Yale feature highly on this list.
This guide is not intended to worry any reader, but rather to ensure that all homeowners and tenants are aware of the risks associated with theft from their property. Furniture may not seem like an obvious target to a thief, but times are changing. More and more homeowners are finding themselves bereft of the furnishings that they worked so hard to provide.
By following the advice laid out in this guide, you should be able to avoid becoming a victim of crime, and you’ll help contribute to those falling statistics. Be aware, especially when it comes to your garden and the furniture contained within, and you will be able to relax and enjoy the home that you have worked to establish.