NEW homeowners are being urged to change their locks when they move house to avoid becoming victims of crime.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) has sent out the warning after shock statistics revealed that most people do not change their locks when they move home, leaving them vulnerable to someone entering their home and stealing their valuables and possessions.
Research by the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (NHWN) has highlighted a hole in home security, finding that two thirds of the 6,000 respondents to a survey do not change their locks when they move home. Some 86.2 per cent of those who don’t change their locks, do not even consider it.
The MLA – the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession – is urging new homeowners to change their locks before they move in, as well as consult an MLA-approved locksmith to carry out a security check on their property.
Dr Steffan George, development director from the MLA, said:
“If you are moving into a new home, you don’t know who has the keys to your property and how many sets are in circulation.The latest Office for National Statistics crime survey revealed that 92 per cent of all domestic burglary in a dwelling in England and Wales is committed through either the front or back door, highlighting the need to tighten up on door security.
“Previous occupants might have given them to friends, family members, tradespeople, babysitters and neighbours. There is potential for keys not to be given back or to be copied, so someone could walk into your property because they, quite literally, have the key to your door.”
Dr George added:
“The figures are worrying but I am not surprised by them because unfortunately security is not at the forefront of the minds of many people.
“We would say, irrespective of whether it is a new build or an existing property, the first thing is gets an MLA-approved locksmith to conduct a security review and change the locks. The expert locksmith can ensure that your insurance requirements are met, while also offering you a ‘keyed alike’ service, whereby you can use the same key for multiple locks.”
Here are some simple dos and don’ts from the MLA to keep your house safe:
Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house even when you’re just out in the garden.
Ensure fencing is in good repair as a high fence is a simple and cost-effective way of safeguarding your home against potential burglars.
Trim high hedges as they will improve natural surveillance at the front of your property.
Get an MLA locksmith to ensure your locks are of an appropriate quality and standard. Act on the locksmiths advice and upgrade security where necessary.
Use timed lighting to make it look like your home is occupied (ensure one of the lights is upstairs).
Consider installing some electronic security such as a burglar alarm or CCTV.
Secure bikes, lawnmowers, ladders and tools inside a locked shed or garage, using third party accredited products such as Sold Secure-approved products (www.soldsecure.com).
Get an MLA locksmith to check if you have externally beaded windows and if you do what options you have to secure them properly (bonding in external beading could be an option).
Don’t leave ladders, bins and tools outside where they could be used to break into your home.
Don’t leave keys, including car keys, on view or in the lock and keep them away from the letterbox in case a device could be used to hook keys through the letterbox
Avoid glass panels on doors as they are particularly vulnerable. Where this is not possible, ensure they are toughened glass. Also, security film can be applied to add another layer of defence.
Don’t risk giving burglars the benefit of ‘cover of darkness’ - install good outside lighting.
Don’t leave high value items like jewellery and passports on show. Lock them in a properly secured safe.
A list of approved MLA companies can be found on the MLA website. For further information please visit www.locksmiths.co.uk.
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