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Being able to protect your property from burglars is a particular worry when you are away.  The most practical and obvious advice is not to advertise you’re not at home. These days this covers everything from not announcing your holiday on Facebook to using automatic light timers.

The basic premise is that you want your property to look occupied. Everything from newspaper and milk deliveries should ideally continue as normal. Just ask a neighbour to collect. The same applies to bins on rubbish day. Ask a neighbour to put yours out and return it to its usual spot when emptied.  A neighbour can also draw and close your curtains or blinds daily. It all helps to create the impression your home is occupied.

We are still amazed at the number of people who tell all and sundry on Facebook when they are away for the weekend or two weeks. The point is whether you have 50 Facebook friends or 500, you don’t always know everyone equally well. A fair percentage of Facebook users are also unaware of their privacy settings. It’s possible anyone can see what you post every time you post.

Light timers are a good investment and can also be used with small appliances such as radios. The timers allow you to mimic the normal pattern of lights switching on and off.   A phone ringing out unanswered signals no one is at home. So as far as your landline is concerned you may wish to turn it off or turn it to silent.

How hard is it to break into your property?  On average it’s easier than people imagine. It goes without saying, but we’ll mention it anyway, doors need to be fitted with locks that comply with the highest safety standards. Chances are if you don’t have retro-fitted doors, your locks aren’t up to standard. Dead bolts are a must. Windows should be locked and the keys removed if you don’t have secondary locks.  Older doors can also be very vulnerable at the hinges. We would recommend at least one extra-length screw is used at each hinge – you’d be surprised at the number of doors that can simply be lifted out of situ. The same applies to any doors you have connecting the house with a garage.

Gardens can provide places for burglars to hide. Ideally hedges should not to so high they obscure all the lower windows and any tree branches that overhang your house should be cut back.

Finally, whether you should get an alarm depends on many factors. If you are the only house in your street without one it’s probably better to have one fitted. Likewise if your home is rural with no close neighbours.