October Crime Prevention Blog 2 - Know your onions!

By Crime Prevention & Architectural Liaison Officer Gerry McBride

To coincide with National Home Security Month I will be publishing a series of articles, one each week, containing top tips and advice to help keep your family, home and belongings safe this winter.

This week is my second blog and I’m going to ask you to take a look at your home as if you were a burglar.

How would you get in if you had to? Once you’ve done this then we need to plug the weak spots.

Thought process of a burglar:

- Is anyone at home?
- Are there any obvious security measures in place?
- Can I be seen from adjoining properties/is there any natural cover?
- Are there any valuables on display?
- Are there any tools/ladders lying about that could help break in?
- Are there any unlocked doors or windows?
- Can I get away easily – local footpaths/track/playing field or open land adjoining?

If you cut an onion in half you’ll see that it’s made up of layers, from the outside to the inside. In crime prevention we use ‘the onion skin principle’ when putting together recommendations to improve your security. The principle is all about working from the outer layer or the perimeter, and working your way toward the centre, or contents of your home. Consider each of the layers as shown below and look at the suggestions I’ve put forward, many of them simple measures that you can put in place to help beat the thief!

Starting at the perimeter:

- fencing topped with trellis – more difficult to climb/breaks easily
- gravel traps/pebbles – noisy underfoot
- gates closed
- Prickly plants (rip burglars pants) more about this in the November blog!
- maintain walls/fences/hedges in good order


- prune and maintain trees for natural surveillance
- keep the area clean and tidy by removing debris and litter
- don’t let shrubs grow up near the front of the house, which could shield a thief
- Property mark garden furniture
- Use ground anchors for valuable items
- Security lighting – dusk to dawn is preferred (more about this later in the month)


- Shed alarm
- Extend house alarm if attached
- Good locks
- Fasten items to each other and to the fabric of the building
- Mark your property with house number and postcode


- Intruder alarm - choose an approved company eg registered with NSI or SSAIB
- Plug in timers to bring on lights/radio
- Keep doors and windows locked – beat the sneak thief
- Keys – keep them safe out of the lock/out of sight but where you can get to them in an emergency
- Don’t tag keys with your address
- Consider a safe which can be secured to a floor or wall for personal papers/passports/small valuables such as jewellery
- When going on holiday – cancel deliveries
- Ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
- Check who is at the door – chain and door viewer.
- Consider CCTV but ensure its coverage doesn’t extend beyond your perimeter. (see September blog for more details)
- Fit window locks.


- Have good contents insurance
- Property marking postcode and house number
- Make use of tracking for laptops/iPads/phones
- Keep valuables out of sight.
- Photograph valuable items – picture with a ruler so an idea of scale can be provided.

Check identity of callers and if in doubt – keep them out!

Look out for your neighbour.

Onions have never been so interesting!

If you have any information about a crime contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.