Top security tips for new home owners

Security is among the top three concerns for most home buyers – with the others being location and price – but it is often forgotten in the upheaval and excitement of moving in.

However, along with making sure everything is packed and that the move goes smoothly, it is important to ensure that you will feel safe from the outset, and that your newly relocated belongings will also be secure, says Shaun Rademeyer, chief executive of bond originator BetterLife Home Loans.

He has the following security tips for new owners:

• Change the locks. Before you move into your new place, replace all the existing exterior locks and make sure you have all the keys. You never know who the previous owners might have given a spare key to, so it’s best to start fresh.

• Double check that all sliding doors and windows fit well within their frames and have sturdy burglar bars or security gates. You may also want to fit additional anti-lift devices to sliding doors, and install additional safety chains and spyholes on solid doors.

• If there’s an existing alarm system, be sure to get the instruction manual and emergency numbers from the previous homeowner, and immediately change the security codes and passwords. It is also a good idea to have the system checked regularly and change your passwords from time to time. If there is no system, have one installed before you move.

• Make sure your alarm system has an exterior siren to alert neighbours and passers-by if your alarm is triggered. Burglars are usually in and out in a few minutes and they know that the police or security companies can’t respond that fast if they trigger the alarm, but they don’t like the idea of there being other witnesses.

• If your new home is already equipped with CCTV, check that the system is working. Alternatively, you should consider installing a camera security system linked to your smartphone before you move as these have proved to be a strong deterrent for burglars.

• Double check the property’s vulnerability. Stand outside it and imagine how you would get in if you were locked out. The first thing you think of, whether it’s the garage door without a lock or the branch hanging over the wall, is exactly how a burglar will get in, and you should address it immediately.

• Respect the power of light. Criminals don’t want to be seen, so add more exterior lights if necessary to make sure whole property is well-lit at night. You can also use technology to make sure interior lights are turned on and off when you are away, to make the house look occupied.

• When you do start moving in, don’t leave any furniture or belongings in the front garden or on the pavement for all to see – and for burglars to start making their own inventory. Rather store everything inside the house, even if it takes a few days to sort it all out.

• Once you’re in your new home, try to get the curtains or blinds hung as soon as possible so the layout of your furniture and location of your belongings aren’t visible from the outside.

• Introduce yourself and your family to your new neighbours as soon as possible and join the local neighbourhood watch if there is one. This will help you fit into your new community, and make friends that will look out for you and your house as you look out for theirs.

• Be sure to check your household insurance policy to see what it covers and what changes you might need to make because you have moved. In addition, it’s a good idea to mark your valuables by engraving them with your ID number. You should also keep a record of all their serial numbers and take photos of jewellery, watches and other special items like coins and artwork so that they can easily be identified if thieves try to pawn them or are caught with them.

• Remain security conscious. Don’t leave any ladders, tools or equipment out in the garden as these could tempt opportunist thieves or help burglars gain access to your home. And don’t leave spare keys under plant pots, rocks or doormats. Rather ask your trusted neighbour to hold them if you need to give access to a friend or family member while you are not at home.

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