Moving out of your parents’ house for the first time is an extremely exhilarating experience.
Daunting, yes. But the sense of fun and occasion (mostly) over-rides the sense of fear as you look forward to a new exciting chapter in your life.
Whether you’re one of the few truly commendable savers who have purchased their first home in today’s lacklustre economy, a student making the big leap with your friends, or a young couple just starting out on the career ladder renting your first home together – it is a big first step towards your independence and future.
Having recently began rented life in domestic bliss on a tree-lined, vibrant street in South Belfast, my confidence has been left shattered by a recent break-in.
Because I used to work night-shift hours, the feeling of safety, cosiness and and security was vital to me.
But whilst this street is a thriving hub during the day, filled with young professionals making their way to work, school children getting dropped to school and office buildings, it is an unfortunate fact that of course, no area is immune to the danger of opportunists.
But even more unfortunate is the recent spate of break-ins across South Belfast in recent weeks, particularly those areas known to be populated by students, and also the vulnerable.
Whilst it is a sad statistic that burglaries are common-fold throughout such student communities, particularly the Holylands, with university not even in term at the minute, it is a harrowing but sadly true fact that we must be vigilant against thieves – and always put your safety first.
Thieves most likely target students and flats as they seem destined to possess all the latest (easy-to-carry), expensive technology. They will seek out any open window – even at the rear of the house (they seem to have no qualms investigating).
With recent break-ins including College Gardens, Wellesley avenue, and Ulsterville Avenue during the weekend alone, as well as office buildings around the Malone Road area, it is vital we stay vigilant against these opportunists.
It might sound obvious, but by ensuring to close each and every window and door (including back and side) this can prevent a thief seeking easy access.
Develop a security season before leaving the house – even just when popping out – and Definitely before bed!
Furthermore, make sure the doors are strong, solid and secure – fitted with a lock which cannot be manipulated open from the outside using a hammer or ‘jiffy.’
I personally believed our front door to be solid and secure. But this is how the thieves gained access – within minutes and making no noise.
Lock bumping is a method of opening cylinder locks (“Yale”-type front-door locks) by using the fact that the spring-loaded pins can be momentarily bounced open by a sharp impact, allowing the cylinder to be turned.
Lately, however, a DIY technique has been developed of cutting a special bumping key which is inserted onto the lock and struck with a blunt object while being turned.
There are instruction videos on how to do this on the internet, which has led to its rapid spread among the worldwide burgling fraternity.
Fit deadlocks, door chains and locks with an additional key-operated mortice lock fitted to the door, or preferably two – one at the top and one at the bottom. Mortice locks cannot be bumped open, and having the two locks spaced apart makes it harder to spring the door.
Exterior lights can also be off-putting to would-be thieves, who could be startled by the spotlight. If you do not have these and live on an ill-lit street this could also prevent car-theft.
If renting ask your landlord to install sensor lights. Even a cheap burglar alarm could help startle and cause a would-be offender to flee.
Make sure valuables are not sitting obviously – especially car keys!
Lastly, if you’re considering getting a family pet the security of simply having a dog in the house can help ward off thieves. Apparently would-be burglars have been known to investigate a whole street of houses before staking out a burglary, making a map of who to target and crossing out others.
Allegedly, those crossed out were the only houses with dogs. It has always been said their bark alone could be enough to scare away any pesky criminal skulking around on your premises.
With the tiniest dogs sometimes having the biggest barks, only you need know if your pet pooch is an adorable teeny ball of fluff, and not the massive guard-dog the crook is envisioning biting into his hand!