Avoid the winter blues by tightening up on outdoor security

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As the winter nights draw closer, and we retire our faithful garden and outdoor equipment for another year, Dr Steffan George, development director of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession, offers advice on how to keep your outbuildings safe and secure.

 Summer is starting to become a distant memory and as we hang up our gardening gloves, spades and trowels, it is important to consider, how secure is my outbuilding?

Outbuildings and sheds can often become an extension of our home, providing storage for valuable items such as bikes, outdoor furniture and power tools. However, it’s sad fact that according to the Crime Prevention website at least 20% of sheds aren’t even locked.

Longer, darker nights can provide an ideal opportunity for potential thieves, and although many outbuildings are not designed or constructed to withstand any form of determined attack, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your property is kept safe.

Not only is additional security about preventing burglaries, it’s about deterring them. If you have windows in your outbuildings, don’t let windows advertise what you’re storing, a simple net curtain or reflective film on the inside of your window can help improve security.

It’s also true that thieves can use the equipment in your shed, like power tools or spades, hammers etc., to gain access to your home. Ensure your outbuilding’s door has been fitted with the correct locks depending on its thickness. If you have a thin door, for example like those on a potting shed, it should be fitted with a hasp, staple and padlock. The MLA would recommend using products which have a third party accreditation from bodies such as Sold Secure. (www.soldsecure.com)

Your shed door will probably be the easiest access point for any potential thief, so inspect your door frame to make sure there are no weak spots, or rotting wood. To make your door extra secure, ensure the hinges of your doors are secured with coach bolts or non returnable screws.

It is essential to consider and evaluate the quality of your locks, which may have rusted or weakened over the summer.  A good quality lock can make all the difference when securing your outbuilding. The MLA would always advise you get your locks fitted by a professional locksmith.

 Fitting sensory or dusk to dawn lighting on, or close to your outbuilding can also make any burglar think twice about breaking in, while additional outdoor lighting can also help you gain access in the dark.

Consider getting your outbuilding alarmed, and/or the contents of the shed security marked. MLA members can offer special deals for this.

If your shed is broken into, you can put extra security measures in place to make sure the burglar doesn’t get away with much. For example, you could pass a heavy chain through the handles of your power/gardening tools or and padlock this chain to a ground anchor secured to the floor. This is also an excellent way to secure your bike.

Ensure any ladders are locked away securely and not simply left lying around, thieves see ladders as an easy access route to the upstairs of your home.

Home owners and tenants should take note of the number of their nearest MLA licensed locksmith by visiting www.locksmiths.co.uk or ringing the MLA’s free phone number – 0800 783 1498 and store the number of this locksmith in a phone for emergency situations.

Advice from Dr Steffan George, Development Director of the UK’s leading trade association for the locksmithing industry, the Master Locksmiths Association.  For more information or to find your nearest locksmith, go to www.locksmiths.co.uk

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