Property: It's curtains for burglars

AUGUST is peak burglary season. Four out of five break-ins take place when a house or flat is empty and opportunists will be looking for signs that the owners are on holiday.

"The secret is to make it look as if your house is occupied," says Ken Meanwell, force crime prevention inspector with Lincolnshire police. Simple things you can do to make it look less obvious that you are away include leaving the curtains open, and mowing the lawn just before you leave. Never let post build up in a visible place - ask a neighbour to collect it until you get back.

For around pounds 70 you can help reduce the chances of a break-in using automatic time switches. It sounds corny, but it does work. When Andrew Woodall's father died, his large house in Cambridge had to be left empty for weeks. The Victorian house had lots of windows not visible from the road and breaking in would have been easy. "By putting in time-switch security devices all over the house, we solved the problem," says Mr Woodall. "The television was on all the time, curtains opened and closed automatically and lights went on and off. I would recommend this method to anyone."

Make sure you have decent security locks on all windows and doors - three out of 10 burglars do not have to force an entry, they simply get in through open doors and windows. Before you have security lighting, door and window locks or a burglar alarm installed, make sure that the system is approved by the British Security Industry Association. The association publishes a list of companies that meet its standards (01905 21464).

Security lighting systems cost between pounds 200 and pounds 900 and some come with one or more control panels, which emit a tone when the light beam outside is broken. Although the light shines near the house, the detector can be 200 yards away. Aluminium shutters are unattractive but effective. Widespread in mainland Europe, they have yet to catch on here. The best idea is to fit them to windows on the ground floor at the back of the house. Many models can be opened and shut electronically.

Insurers offer cumulative discounts of up to 20 per cent for householders who take extra security precautions. Your postcode is a key factor - don't expect big reductions if you live in the inner city.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) advises putting gravel down if your home has a front drive. Burglars hate the crunching sound. If the worst happens and thieves break into your home, it helps to have all your property marked. "I would recommend using markers," says Inspector Meanwell. "The stickers in the window deter thieves, marked goods make handlers think twice about taking them, and detection is easier."

When marked goods are recovered the police can identify and return them. DIY shops sell security marking kits. Your local crime prevention officer will be able to supply you with warning stickers to display in the front and back windows of your house, stating that property is marked with your postcode. Take a photograph of anything you cannot mark.

Tips to beat burglars

q Put good locks on all doors and windows.

q Don't leave unopened post visible in porches or through the letterbox.

q Cancel the milk and papers.

q Invest in automatic timers for lights.

q Curtains can be opened and closed using timers.

q Lock the garage and shed - they are full of tools that can be used for a break-in.

q Arrange a visit from your crime prevention officer who will give you detailed information on how to improve security (call the local police station for more details).

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot