Staying safe over the summer holidays

David Varney

Don’t let opportunist criminals cast a shadow over your summer fun. David Varney of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) gives you tips on how to burglar-proof your house if you go away during the holidays.

The chance to enjoy a bit of warmth in the summer sun is very welcome. As our summers are quite often short lived, we tend embrace the new climate by cleaning down the barbecue, finding our fans and open up our doors and windows to let that much needed fresh breeze through the house.

Don’t make it easy for opportunists
As wonderful as it is to be able to enjoy the summer weather, it does unfortunately bring opportunities for criminals to commit crime and target our homes that are left vulnerable.

The vast majority of burglaries that occur are what we call ‘opportunist’. By this, we mean there are always criminals travelling around the streets looking for opportunities to commit crime, so when they see open doors and windows, they see it as an invitation for them to enter.

Along with open doors and windows, properties that look insecure or indeed unoccupied will also be targeted, because part of the burglars’ rationale for targeting a premises is the ability to be able to gain entry undetected, not arouse suspicion by doing so and be able to get in and out in quickly.

Good security doesn’t necessarily need to cost a lot of money, particularly for domestic properties. Some measures don’t actually need to cost anything at all, but having good security in place is not only a good investment, it can reduce insurance costs as well as giving you peace of mind.

Where to start?
Quite often when I’m attending a site and carrying out a security survey, one of the first things I’m asked about is CCTV. Over recent years, the cost of CCTV systems has reduced considerably and with the development of wireless systems and systems that can link in with mobile devices; we’re seeing an increase in people purchasing CCTV for home use.

CCTV is a deterrent against opportunist burglars

However, it has to be said that these systems still require some investment and I would always advocate that you’re better off prioritising spending on ways to prevent someone gaining entry rather than just spending money on something that will just show you that they have got in!

It’s a matter of standards
Having good quality doors, windows and locks fitted will go a long way to stopping you being targeted or if you are targeted, prevent someone getting in or at the very least, create such a delay that they will either give up or be apprehended.

If you are renting a property, as most diplomats do, do not hesitate to ask your landlord or management agency to instal secure fittings.

What people fail to realise is that there are different standards of products and having a security rated product will provide you with a guarantee that it will perform as required, so looking out for the various British and European standards is essential when choosing your security measures.

For more information visit:

No entry!
By preventing easy access to the back and sides of your home by using the correct boundary defences will go a long way to stop you being targeted. If you install the correct lighting and fit security to outbuildings, you’re already making things more difficult for the burglar.

The front of your premises should be ‘open’ for people to see. You don’t want high walls or shrubs to the front as this can ensure the burglar is unseen by neighbours and passers-by.

Is anyone home?
Don’t advertise to would-be burglars that you are on holiday. With minimal cost, you can buy light timers and other products that will work while you are away.

Whether it’s for an hour or for weeks, preventing your home looking like it’s unoccupied will go a long way towards it not being targeted.

If you are away for longer periods, there are other things you can do that won’t cost you any money such as cancelling papers and milk deliveries or re-directing your mail.

Unsocial Media
Part of modern living involves social media and we all like to share our lives with others, which includes telling people where we’re going holiday.

Whether you use Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, just consider that as soon as you tell people you’re going to be away on holiday for two weeks, you might be inadvertently telling criminals that your home is empty and ready to be burgled. Just be careful with what you share and don’t make you and your home a target.

Want more tips on securing your home?
If you would like more advice on burglar-proofing your property, visit the Secured by Design ‘Home Security Advice Centre’ at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show for guidance to on the right products to specify.

The exhibition takes place on 25-27 September at the Excel exhibition centre in London. For details visit