You should take steps to protect your home and your family from burglary and break-ins.
Locks and other security devices
Make sure that all the doors and windows to your property have adequate locks. Get in the habit of checking doors are locked when you leave home. Doors and door and window frames should be strong and in good condition, so they can't be broken easily.
If you live in rented accommodation and don't feel safe ask your landlord if he will fit new locks. If you change the locks yourself, you should get the landlord's permission in writing and find out if you need to put the original locks back at the end of the tenancy. You should also give your landlord a key to the new locks for emergencies.
Protecting valuable items
Try not to leave valuable items in places where they can be seen from outside. Mark valuable items with an ultra-violet pen, so they can be identified if they are stolen. Take photographs of items such as jewellery or antiques which you can't mark. Make sure any h
igh value items are included on your contents insurance policy.
Entry phone systems
If you live in a building with an entry phone system, it's important that you use it properly to keep the property secure. Don't leave the door open or let in people you don't know.
Neighbourhood watch groups consist of local residents working together to improve security in the community and help prevent crime. They have close links with the local police and other crime prevention agencies, and can warn residents of crime trends in their area.
Other security tips
Never leave an extra key hidden outside your home
Always lock up the garden shed or garage, and don't leave anything lying around that could help someone to break in
Don't leave packaging for new appliances and goods outside your home. This will notify people that you have expensive items in your house.
If you're going away, there are several things you can do to secure your home.
- leave a light on if you're going to be out during the evening
- ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home when you're away
- ask a friend or neighbour to put your bins out and take them in on collection day
- get a timer switch to control the lights automatically
- remember to cancel paper and milk deliveries
Bogus callers pretend to be officials from an organisation in order to gain access to your home to steal money or property. They usually carry fake identity cards and can seem very convincing. Every year there are reports of fraudsters going door to door, pretending to be from real organisations.
If someone calls round at your home, it's best to take the following precautions:
- put the chain on the door before answering it
- ask to see identification
- check their identification isn't fake - ask which company they represent, then phone the company to check the caller is genuine. Don't phone the number the caller gives you - look the company's number up in the phone book
- ask a neighbour or friend to come round while the caller is there.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland runs a scheme called Quick Check which enables householders to check that callers to their home are genuine. You can call Quick Check on 0800 013 22 90 24 hours a day.
What happens if my home is broken into?
The first thing you need to do is call the police. Call 999 if you think the burglars may still be in the area; otherwise call your local police station. Don't tidy up until the police have arrived and checked your home over - you may destroy useful evidence.
The police will ask you to fill in a report listing everything that's missing and any damage that's been done. You may need to call a locksmith, joiner or glazier if locks, doors or windows have been broken.
You'll need to call your landlord if you rent your home. Your landlord will probably be responsible for repairing any damage caused during the break in, unless you left a door or window open.
Call your bank if any credit cards, bankcards or chequebooks are missing. Contact the DVLNI if your driving licence is stolen. Call your insurance company. Most companies have a 24-hour emergency helpline. This number is usually on your insurance policy or on their website.
More information and support
Having your home broken into can be extremely upsetting and you may be left feeling angry, shocked, insecure, violated or depressed. If you need someone to talk to, call Victim Support on 028 9024 4039 or visit your local office. Victim Support offers free confidential advice and emotional support to victims of crime, and can also provide practical assistance in dealing with the police and your insurance company or securing your home against further break ins.