Take steps to give burglars a hard time

THE Easter weekend is the time to get away with family to villages and to take church trips to faraway places.

It is also the time when thugs break into houses because no one is at home.

According to Angelo Haggiyannes, director of Auto & General Insurance, homes that are difficult and time-consuming to be broken into are most often bypassed for easier targets.

Haggiyannes says the longer it takes to gain entry and the more noise is made, the bigger the chance becomes of the thief being seen and caught.

"When people think of protecting their homes the first thing that comes to mind is fancy and expensive security systems with all the bells and whistles. Though this is certainly an option, there are measures you can take that won't break the bank, Haggiyannes says.

He explains that the best way to catch a burglar is to think like one.

"Walk around your property and ask yourself: How would I break in? Examine your house from the street and ask yourself: where are the blind spots and-or hiding places? What are the most vulnerable areas that are likely to be attacked?

Stand outside your windows and look in. If you can see your valuable belongings, so can criminals. So make sure no valuables, like expensive electronics, are visible.

"After the vulnerable areas have been identified, ensure you install burglar bars or gates. It's also a good idea to get to know your neighbours, who will be familiar with your movements and know what unusual and suspicious activity to look out for," Haggiyannes says.

To guide you through the ins and outs of effective security for your home, Auto & General has a few handy and inexpensive tips:

lFor insurance purposes, make sure you have an alarm system linked to a reputable armed-response company;

lA burglar can get through any space larger than a human head, so fit locks to small openings like skylights and fanlights;

lIf you are replacing glass in downstairs windows, consider using laminated glass, which is much harder to break, or else burglar proof the window;

lInhospitable plants such as cactus or thorny bushes are a great deterrent;

lWhen you move into a new home change the locks on all your doors. You never know who has been given keys by the previous owner;

lDecide on a safe place for your house keys and know where you can find them in an emergency;

lNever leave your house or car keys near a door or window;

lCancel all deliveries such as newspapers. Cut the lawn before you go on holiday to make it less obvious you are away;

lTry and get a neighbour to keep an eye on your home while you are away and make it look lived in by. for indtance, leaving a light on;

l Keep valuables locked away in a safe.

"There is no such thing as a completely burglar proof home. There are, however, ways to combat the opportunistic mind-set of a burglar when it comes down to their double criteria of a speedy entry and exit along with not attracting any attention," Haggiyannes says.