Lights and locks best way to protect homes against burglary

Researchers at Loughborough University have identified the best way to safeguard a home against burglars. The best combination of security devices, they found is: external lights on a sensor, internal lights on a timer, double or deadlocks on doors, and window locks.

The research looked at the security protection of individual and combined security devices for different people and in different circumstances, such as accommodation type and occupant characteristics. The team looked at a range of security measures including alarms, dummy alarms, security chains, indoor and outdoor lights on timer and sensor switches, bars/grills on windows and doors, deadlocks and window locks and even dogs.

The study also found:

  • A combination of security devices in general offers up to 50 times more protection than no security
  • Protection against the burglar does not consistently increase with the number of security devices
  • Individual security devices give up to three times greater protection than no security, the most effective being external lights with sensors
  • Households in the social rented sector are particularly targeted by burglars
  • Installation of burglar alarms could be counterproductive and increase risk of burglary. Crime statistics demonstrated that, particularly in recent years, the addition of an alarm when used in combination with other devices was associated with either no change or, more often, a substantial increase in risk of burglary.

The research is based on analysis of more than 20 years of British Crime Survey data.

Andromachi Tseloni, professor of quantitative criminology from the department of social sciences at the university, led the research.  She said: “Whilst domestic burglary has reduced substantially in recent years it is still a high volume crime.  At the start of this research we knew that the risk of becoming a victim was not equally spread across households.  We now know what security devices work in what contexts.”

Tseloni urged caution on the counter-productiveness of burglar alarms, saying, “It would be premature to conclude that that the installation of burglar alarms should no longer be encouraged.  More research into the particular impact or burglar alarms is called for”.

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