Campaigns & Research Personal safety Safety at home We all like to feel safe and secure, especially in and around our own homes. Whether we live alone or with a partner, friends or family, keeping safe is something we all need to think about but sometimes take for granted. Inside your home Try and look at your home through the eyes of a burglar. What can you see that would encourage or discourage someone from breaking in? Remember, half of all burglaries happen on the spur of the moment through unlocked doors or windows. Safety lights that are triggered by movement can be useful burglar deterrents. Try not to leave keys in a place where they can be seen from outside your home. Avoid attaching your name or address to keys. If they were lost or stolen, they could make a burglar’s job very easy. Callers at the door Intercom systems, spy holes, door chains and outside lighting can all help to safely identify callers. If you have them, make sure you use them. If a caller claims to be representing a company or organisation, ask for ID. If you are uncertain about the ID, phone the organisation to check the caller is genuine. Use the telephone number given in the phone book or on your utility bill, rather than the one on the identity card. Sometimes a bogus caller will try and distract you whilst an accomplice robs you, often by entering through a back door. Try and make sure other entrances into your home are locked when you answer the door. Answering the phone Try not to answer the phone with your address or telephone number. If the caller is not known to you, then avoid answering questions about yourself, no matter how innocent they sound. If you have an answer machine, consider carefully before including your name or number in the message. The message should never tell people that you are out or away. Try and give the impression that you are only temporarily unable to answer. If you are listed in any directories, you might want to give your initials and surname rather than your full name. Dealing with malicious or nuisance calls Try to keep calm and hang up without responding. If the phone rings again, don’t say anything when you answer. Normal callers will identify themselves and if it is the malicious caller you can hang up again. Make a note of the time and nature of calls and, if the problem persists or you are worried, inform the police and your telephone provider. If you suspect an intruder If you are in your home and think there is an intruder, call the police – don’t go and investigate by yourself. If you come home and suspect an intruder has been inside, don’t enter the property. Use a mobile or a neighbour’s phone to call the police. Be a good neighbour. If you see anything suspicious, contact the police. Going away Close all windows and doors whenever you leave your home. Consider using a timer switch within your home to switch on some lights and perhaps a radio while you are away. If you are going out at night, you might want to draw the curtains and turn a light on so it looks like someone is at home. If you are going away on holiday, try not to tell too many people or to make your departure too obvious, e.g. packing your car in front of your house, announcing plans on social media sites. Remember to cancel milk and papers. If they sit on your doorstep they tell everyone passing that you are away. Outside your home Thorny shrubs can be added to hedges or planted under windows to discourage intruders. Gravel and pebbles on driveways and paths will help you to hear people approaching. Trellis is fairly fragile and if added to the top of fences makes them difficult to climb. Watch out for people acting suspiciously. If you think someone is following you home or hanging around near your front door then make for a place where there are other people you can ask for help. Predictable behaviour can make you an easier target for criminals. If possible, try to vary the times that you come and go and the routes that you take. Cutting back hedges and trees around your home makes it difficult for anyone to conceal themselves. Try and have your keys ready when you approach your home, so you don’t have to fumble in bags or pockets for them on your doorstep.