You have been looking forward to your holiday for a long time, now it’s finally here the last thing you want to worry about is your empty house. The basic security tips below will go some way towards putting you at ease.

The saying goes that “an English mans’ home is his castle” and with this in mind it is no wonder that being burgled is such an upsetting experience, thoughts such as “my house has been invaded” and “the place seems different” are common. However, there are plenty of simple measures that we can all take to deter potential thieves and make our homes more secure.

The most basic thing to do is to remember to cancel the milk and daily papers, you can also arrange for your post to be held at the local sorting office using their Keepsafeā„¢ service or forwarded to a local post office for collection while you are on holiday. All of these steps will reduce the risk of advertising that you are away.

Visible, key operated locks may deter thieves and can help to lower your insurance premiums. Make sure that they are fitted to all downstairs windows and also to any other windows that are accessible (from a flat roof for example). You should also have 5 level mortice locks fitted to all external doors (and to the internal door that connects the house to the garage if your garage is built into the house). Patio doors should have locks fitted to the top and bottom so that they can not be lifted out of the frames, try to get locks that conform to the British Standard BS3621 and are marked with the Kitemark symbol. You should also check the frames of doors and windows to make sure that the wood is not so soft or rotten that it can be easily broken.

An annually serviced burglar alarm, installed and maintained by a member of the National Approval Council for Security Systems (NACOSS) also deters burglars and can help to reduce your contents insurance.

Keep your garage and shed securely locked both to keep expensive garden equipment safe and to stop people getting at tools that they could use to help them break into your house. One idea is to chain your ladder together (a bicycle chain and padlock does the job), this stops the ladder being extended and limits it’s use in getting to 1st floor windows. You could also chain all your garden tools together with a chain through the handle.

Remember, the principle is that if you make life difficult for a prospective burglar he or she will usually move on to an easier target and leave your house alone.

You may also feel safer if you join a local neighbourhood watch scheme – contact your local police station for details of the local co-ordinator or have a look at the national neighbourhood watch web site

Although there were in the region of 800,000 burglaries in 2004-5 according to the British Crime Survey you should put this against the 24,700,000 households in the UK in 2004, this means that about 3% of households experienced a burglary in 2004-5. The important thing to remember is that by taking a few simple steps you could join the 97% that were not broken into.