6 Essential Things To Do Before Buying A Safe

Make no mistake about it, having a safe that protects your valuables is the very last line of defence.

But defence of your cash, valuables, jewellery, collections and other important possessions begins far sooner than the purchase of a safe.

Our best advice is this: before investing in any type of safe, get your house in order – literally.

Below are 6 essential things you need to do before buying a safe.

Having a safe is hugely beneficial for your home, but buying a safe without doing these things first is like putting your foot down on the accelerator in your car – before switching on the engine.

Thing To Do Before Buying A Safe

Here are 6 things to do before buying a safe for your home.

Recommended Reading: Best Home Safe

#1. External Property Gating

Gating and boundary defences of your property is your very first line of defence when it comes to protecting your possessions and valuables.

If you have gates (for driveway or pathway), shut them at all times. Remember, someone trying to enter your property will nearly always choose the path of least resistance.

So you can’t be bothered closing those gates on the drive after you’ve left for work? That is one obstacle removed immediately for someone who can simply walk onto your property.

buying a safe

Think about the following:

  • Access from the road. How is your property situated? If you have a drive, with gates, do you always close those gates? Do you always close your gates after you have driven the car out (to work for instance), or do you simply leave them open ready for your return? Yes, it can be a pain getting in and out of the car to open and shut gates, but please do it! It is the simplest way to deter someone who is intent on accessing your property. Think about it logically – there’s two houses, one with gates open, one with gates closed. The one with the gates open offers the quickest route into your property.
  • If you don’t have any gates, do you have a budget to install some?
  • Is there access to the back of your house via the side of your house? A lot of houses are built with a drive, which leads all the way to the rear. Is there adequate gating or fencing to stop someone simply wandering around to the rear of your property?
  • Squeaky/noisy gates. Do you have any gates that make a sound when they are used? TOP TIP: Do not make them any less noisy. Leave them noisy, in fact, the nosier the better. I used to live in a house that had a gate that led up the pathway to my door that made a huge clank whenever it was opened – so much so that I knew when anyone had just opened the gate. I never tried to fix this noise, because this was my unofficial doorbell!

A lot of new properties have this so called ‘open plan’ gardens that are minimalistic and have no boundary defences at all. This is down to keeping costs under control, but there is a huge unintended benefit of this – it makes the whole street open plan, and wide open, making it that little bit harder for someone to go undetected onto a property.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you have gates to your driveway or pathway – use them.
  • Don’t fix any noises coming from gates – they are an unofficial doorbell.
  • If there is side access to the rear of your property, ensure your side gate security is up to scratch.
  • If you feel your property would benefit from some gates and you don’t have any, consider purchasing some.

#2. External Property General Upkeep

If your front garden is adorned with various plants, trees, shrubbery and everything else that makes your property beautiful, is it all properly maintained? Whilst all this is nice to have, if it’s not maintained it’s basically giving someone who is intent on breaking into your house cover from the road. Cover from public areas basically gives them time – time to jemmy that window or time to get through a door.

So before considering buying a safe, ensure your property is well maintained at all times, esepcially during the summer months where just a few trees and shrubs can almost entirely cover the the front of your property.

tidy garden to improve security

Stand on the footpath or pavement outside your property and take a look – if your doors or windows are obstructed from the public areas in front of your property, then this provides excellent cover for any person looking to enter your property unlawfully.

With this in mind then, it is imperative you keep on top of the garden. Trim down trees and shrubs that may obstruct the front of the house, and make sure it is tidy. A garden that is overgrown and unkempt is paradise for people wanting to eneter your property.

As well as this, it’s also imperative you do some other simple things. The following list is just plain common sense, but a lot of people think ‘it will never happen to them’ and don’t do basics such as:

  • Ensuring there are no ladders or any other items that could help people onto flat roofs or up to windows quickly and easily.
  • Ensuring wheelie bins are stored away from windows and flat roofs – it’s another opportunist item that can help someone gain access to your property.
  • Ensuring any tools or equipment that could be used to gain entry into your home are safely stored.
  • Ensuring the ‘spare key’ is not placed under a platpot in the garden. Yes. People still do this.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep the front of your property well maintained and clear of obstructions.
  • Store bins or any climbing aids away from windows and flat roofs.
  • Don’t place a spare key under a plant pot. If you really must, buy a keysafe.

3. Exterior Access Points – Doors

In 76% of all burglaries recorded in the UK, up to March 2020, the intruder entered through a door according to ONS data. Amazingly, 24% of those were burglaries where the door was simply unlocked. It’s an eye watering statistic.

Lesson one then; lock your doors. Even when you’re in.

buying a safe for home use

Assuming that you’ve managed to remember to lock your doors then, the next thing to look at is the type of door and lock you have, its age and material condition.

Older UPVC will not afford the same amount of durability and protection newer doors have, simply because in times gone by thinking and methods of manufacture have changed. A new door can be expensive, but is a worthwhile cost because it will give you added security for many years to come. Not to mention all the benefits of keeping the cold out and keeping more heat in.

Whilst all newer, modern doors have a good level of security, most locksmiths would probably reommend a good solid wooden door – simply because of the way the lock is fitted within the door itself. Having a wooden door also gives you a better choice of higher quality locks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Check age and condition of your exterior doors.
  • Consider upgrading and replacing doors that do not meet current requirements.
  • Consider adding extra inner locks and bolts, and even consider door jammers.
  • Always lock your doors.

#4. Exterior Access Points – Windows

In 24% of all burglaries, a window is used to gain entry. And in 8% of all cases, the windows were already open. (Data: ONS)

Lesson one then; shut and lock windows when you are out.

window security

If you are in your property on a hot summers day, it is tempting to leave all windows open – common sense should prevail here. If you know you are in the house alone, and you are going to an upstairs room for example, pull any large windows you may have open, shut.

The next thing you should do is inspect all of your windows that open and that would allow a person to fit through. Just like doors, inspect their condition, their age and their suitability, paying careful attention to the locking mechanism and handle. If they are compromised or degraded with age or use, it’s essential you upgrade them before considering buying a safe.

Key Takeaways:

  • Check age and condition of all windows, especially those that would fit a person through.
  • Consider replacing locks and mechanisms of those that need some TLC.
  • Always shut and lock your windows when you leave your property unattended.
  • Add contact alarms on vulnerable windows, or even window bars if you feel it is necessary.

#5. Exterior Property Lighting

Lighting is the simplest, most cost effective way of helping to protect your property.

Again, turn your mind to that of a burglar – if you are going to break into a property, you want to be in the shadows and darkness to reduce the risk of being caught or spotted – being illuminated increases the chance of being caught exponentially.

If the external grounds of your property is shrouded in darkness, then it is absolutely recommended that you change that and add some light. Not only does it improve the security of your property, it will will also make it look more pleasant.

house lighting

You’ve got a few choices here, the first choice is to get an electrician in and get them to install some lighting around your property.

A cheaper alternative is to do it yourself – all you need is a drill and a screwdriver. No need to start wiring and messing with electrics if you don’t want to – solar technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and you can buy solar powered spotlights and motion sensor lights cheaply in places such as Argos or Amazon.

Be tactical in the placement of these lights – aim to light up access routes towards your property (like pathways and driveways) and then light up around windows and doors. Don’t just focus on security though – if you are lucky enough to have a nice big tree in your garden, get a spotlight pointed up to it – in my opinion, trees look stunning lit up at night!

Key Takeaways:

  • Burglars don’t want to be seen, and prefer properties that are dark and unlit.
  • Consider using solar powered lights for motion detection around your property.
  • Consider using spotlights to light external areas of your property at night, especially around doors and windows.

#6. Exterior Property Cameras

Number six on the list is purely for consideration only, because this is a double edged sword and a dilema for many. Whilst installing camera equipment on the exterior of your home undoubtedly target hardens your property, it does have a negative impact as well. For many, they believe it cheapens the area. If you walk past a house and you notice CCTV cameras, what does it say to you? For me, it says this area has a problem with crime.

However, it’s an excellent deterrant, so it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of this. If you don’t want full on CCTV, theres always options like smart doorbells – these are excellent pieces of kit and take away the unknown when answering the door – talk directly into your phone from anywhere in the world, to somebody on your doorstep. These smart doorbells also have things like motion detectors built in.

Again, installing CCTV is at the high end of the spetrum and it is a more extreme security measure, and including this in the list is simply to target harden your property.

Key Takeaways:

  • CCTV is not essential for residential property due to costs and perceptions.
  • Consider alternatives to CCTV, like smart doorbells.

Buying A Safe – Summary

The above are the things you need to at least consider before buying a safe for your home or property. As you can see from the list, most are fairly simple and straight forward to implement. Most are just plain common sense, but we as humans seem to lose this approach as complacency sets in.

Even if you are somehow here on this page and not wanting to buy a safe, the tips mentioned above are a good little audit of your current security arrangements anyway, but if you are looking to buy a safe, it is highly recommended that you get your general security arrangements in order before going and spending money on a safe.

The message at the start of the article, will now end the article, because it is a very very important message:

A safe is the very last line of defence. 

In other words then, you should be looking at improving all of your other security arrangements and making them as robust as possible before considering a safe.

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My name is Richard.

I'm 40 years old. And I have nearly 20 years experience in various safety and security industries.

I'm here for you, sharing all my knowledge and experience to help you create a safe and secure home for you and your family.

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