Top Tips For Combating Christmas Criminals So, the security experts at Yale have come up with some seasonal security advice to help keep your gifts safe and make sure Santa Claus is the only surprise visitor in your home. 1. Friends and family The new Keyfree digital door lock from Yale is operated by a PIN code or remote fob with no need for a key. There’s a separate visitor code function, which is ideal if you have relatives coming to stay for the festive season or if you want your neighbours to check on your home while you’re on holiday. Simply set the visitor code and they can have access to your property for as long as you need them to, without having to get extra keys cut. Keyfree also boasts a number of advanced security features, including a tamper alarm and a ‘fake’ PIN code system that allows you to enter any number of digits to distract onlookers, as long as you start or end with your real code. The Keyfree lock comes ready fitted on new residential doors including composite, PVCu and timber, and is available from a nationwide network of professional door installers. 2. Alarm Systems As well as visiting friends and family, more of us are holidaying at Christmas too, so it’s important that your home is protected while you’re not there. An alarm can act as a crucial visual deterrent and will alert neighbours to would-be burglars. Only 30% of UK homes have an alarm system, yet 60% of burglaries attempted on homes fitted with an alarm are unsuccessful. Yale’s wirefree alarm kits are quick and easy to install, and offer discreet protection for all types of properties, from flats to large family homes. 3. Sheds, Garages and Outbuildings Sheds and garages are often used to store larger, more expensive presents like bicycles and televisions, making them a prime target. Plus, they often contain ladders and tools that could prove useful for a burglar. Heavy-duty padlocks are recommended for shed doors, whilst anchor locks and cables can secure individual items. Portable alarms, which run on battery power, can also be fitted to outbuildings as an extra security measure. These handy alarms require no hardwiring, so can simply be placed on a shelf or wall mounted and the in-built siren will sound if an intruder enters the shed or outbuilding. 4. Answering The Door During the festive season, you are far more likely to be visited by relatives and friends, as well as the occasional carol singer, so Yale recommends fitting a door chain and spy hole to external doors. Get into the habit of using the spy hole to check who is at the door and make sure the chain is engaged before opening the door, even if you are expecting visitors to call. Where necessary, ask for ID to confirm the identity of callers. 5. Personal Safety Christmas is the official party season but don’t let your fun be ruined by compromising on your safety. With darker nights and more evening social events to attend, it is crucial to remain self-aware when travelling and Yale recommends always carrying a personal attack alarm. Yale offers an affordable personal attack alarm that is small and discreet to carry, with built-in siren, activated by pulling the hand loop. 6. Valuables and Document Security Every year, 100,000 people in the UK are affected by identity theft. On average, victims of fraud then spend over £500 and take 14 months to clear their name. At Christmas time, you are more susceptible to fraud, as the increase in larger purchases, Internet shopping and a busy social calendar means you are less likely to notice unusual activity on your account. To protect yourself, keep your gift receipts in a home safe that’s bolted securely to the floor or wall. A safe can also be used to store small valuable presents such as mp3 player, handheld video consoles, mobiles or jewellery until Christmas Day, as well as important documents like passports. Once you’ve given your gifts, receipts should ideally be shredded, if they are no longer required. Yale offers a range of certified electronic safes that are insured to protect up to £2,000 cash and £20,000 worth of valuables. 7. Windows A property is not properly protected unless all points of entry are secured and Yale recommends that all windows, both upstairs and downstairs, are fitted with at least one appropriate lock. Many burglars will avoid smashing a window and will instead try to force the window frame itself. There are locks available for all types of windows, including wooden, aluminium and PVCu, as well as locks that are suitable for French doors and patio doors. 8. Gardens Fences and thorny hedges act as a visible and practical deterrent, although it is a good idea to ensure that the house is still visible to passers-by, so as not to allow a thief to work unseen. As the nights get darker, movement-sensitive security lights will also deter would-be intruders, making it harder for them to break in undetected. In addition, never leave spare keys in easily accessible places - burglars always know where to look. 9. External Doors With more valuable goods in your home than at any other time of the year, it’s important that your door security is up to standard. External timber doors should be secured using a mortice lock and/or a nightlatch that meets British Standard BS3621 - look for the Kitemark on lock packs and on the lock itself. The ‘Secured by Design’ logo also indicates that the lock meets the standards set by the police and insurance companies - it’s worth checking your insurance policy to make sure your locks meet the standard stipulated. For extra security, hingebolts should be fitted to secure door hinges, as well as bolts to the top and bottom of doors. They can only be operated from the inside and are a useful nighttime security measure. If you have a PVCu or composite door then it is a good idea to upgrade the euro profile cylinder in your multi-point lock to a British Standard cylinder – again, look for the Kitemark. By upgrading your cylinder you can be assured that your home has the very latest security protection. 10. Who has keys to your home? Last but not least, have you ever thought about who has a key for your property - potentially the previous homeowners or tenants? Yale recommends that every time you move property you update your locks. This is not as hard as you may think. By simply upgrading your rim cylinder on a nightlatch or euro profile cylinder on a multi-point lock, your home can be secure in less than 10 minutes. All of the Yale security products recommended are available in many large retailers and hardware stores, or through your local locksmith. For more information call 01902 364647. Too see how easy it is to fit a new euro profile cylinder, a Yale PVCu replacement door handle,a nightlatch, or to see how to upgrade to a British Standard rim cylinder, visit www.yale.co.uk and click on the Yale Security TV icon.