Burglars don’t want to be seen or heard and if they think they’ll be noticed by a neighbour or passer-by, they'll probably move on. Here's some advice on helping keep burglars out by giving them no hiding place.

Keep it visible

You’d think that it would be best to make a property less visible from the street, and to keep it hidden from prying eyes behind overgrown bushes, trees, high fences or walls. In reality, all that this serves to do is make it easier for a burglar to get close to a home unnoticed, and provide somewhere to hide while carrying out a burglary or theft from the property.

  1. Lower fences at the front around one-metre high are preferable to high fences as they allow for a clear view over the top and don’t provide cover for anyone wishing to hide.
  2. At the rear and sides, taller fencing is recommended to prevent easy access.
  3. Trellis, thorny plants, or a suitable anti-climb topping such as plastic spikes make it difficult for anyone climbing over a fence or gate.
  4. Planting prickly or barbed shrubbery along boundaries and fence lines acts as an effective natural barrier.
  5. Gravel driveways and paths will make sure you hear anyone approach.

For more information on creating a boundary, visit our advice on criminal damage.

Other ways to make it difficult for burglars

By using well-defined boundaries as a basis, CCTV can be a valuable tool. However, it doesn’t prevent a crime from being committed and does have limitations.

Most importantly, CCTV is no substitute for good quality physical security such as secure doors and windows.  

A wide range of cameras is available, from traditional CCTV systems recording 24/7 to video doorbells that activate on approach.

Some cameras work by day and by night, and record when they detect movement. Some can be remotely viewed from a smartphone.

Audio capability is available in some, to allow you to speak to any caller - welcome or unwelcome.

Position cameras where they are best able to obtain good quality facial images. Could you recognise or identify someone from the footage?  

There is legislation for home CCTV use, so always seek advice from an accredited installer first to ensure your system complies with the law.  

Place signage up warning that CCTV is in use.  

For advice and approved suppliers of CCTV visit the National Security Inspectorate and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board.

www.securedbydesign.com can also provide further advice.

Consider an accredited burglar alarm system with audible alarm boxes mounted high at the front and rear of your home. Two visible audible alarm boxes are better than one. Mount them at the front and rear of your home, high up to resist tampering.

There are three types of burglar alarm, varying in capability and cost:  

  1. Monitored – Once triggered, an alarm company or designated key holder can check to ensure it isn't a false alarm.
  2. Unmonitored – This type, once activated, will sound a loud alarm designed to scare off an intruder and alert neighbours but they are reliant on someone such as a neighbour checking the house.  

  3. Auto Dialler – This system, once activated, alerts pre-programmed key holders with either a text or a phone call.  

The police will typically respond to a burglar alarm if requested to do so by a monitoring company but are less likely to respond to an unmonitored alarm.  

If you have an extension to your home remember to extend your burglar alarm coverage as well.  

Signage is an effective deterrent if used with an active alarm system.

For advice and approved suppliers of alarms visit the National Security Inspectorate and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board.

External lighting

Lighting is a good deterrent and is recommended at doors as it makes it safer for you when coming and going after dark.  

A clear, low white light that activates at dusk to dawn is ideal for lighting a yard and garden and allowing any person to be clearly seen.

Check to make sure that trees and plants do not obscure your lighting. It’s recommended that you regularly cut vegetation back.  

Take care to position these lights so that light pollution doesn’t annoy your neighbours. 

Internal lighting  

Use an automatic plug-in time-switch to operate a lamp or light at pre-set times when you’re away.  

Energy saving LED bulbs are best as they do not use as much electricity, last longer than conventional bulbs and do not generate heat, reducing fire risk.  

In blocks of flats, automatic low-energy lights that detect movement are recommended for corridors, stairwells and communal areas such as car parks and cycle stores.