As a property owner, you’re likely to find, at some point or another, your property is vacant for an extended period of time. Vacant and unprotected properties are attractive to vandals, thieves and squatters, so it’s important you know how to best protect your buildings from such crime.
Here, SafeSite Security Solutions details the most common and easy-to-implement methods of protecting empty properties:
Befriend your neighbours
If your property is in a residential area, one of the most effective ways of protecting it is to enlist the help of friendly neighbours. If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, you can ask them to report anything unusual to you, and to generally keep an eye on the place. That way, you’ll know straight away of any problems you need to deal with. Tackling problems like broken windows or damaged doors quickly will help prevent further more serious issues, like squatters or theft.
Remove waste frequently
If your property (either residential or commercial) is empty for a long time, its understandable that waste of some form or another will build up around the building.
Leaving waste such as overgrown weeds and other garden waste, or even human waste if people have been littering nearby, makes your property an advert for vandals, thieves and other intruders. Waste removal and site clearance will help make the fact that your property is vacant less obvious and therefore go a considerable way to deterring intruders.
Clearing garden waste, like overgrown shrubs, will also help remove any potential hiding places for potential intruders. It’s also worth considering any potential hazards leaving such waste, either on a construction site or at a vacant property, may have on the general public. By removing waste, you eliminate the possibility of causing harm.
Again, just as with befriending your neighbours, the most important benefit waste removal has is to stop your property appearing obviously empty. Couple this with simple things like collecting the post and using light timers and you’ll be going some way to protect your property while it’s vacant.
Keep everything locked, and clearly so
It sounds simple, but the importance of making sure all of the windows and doors (including those of any garage or outbuilding) are securely locked is paramount. Again, not only will this provide inherent security thanks to the locks themselves, but using heavy duty and even multiple locks will create yet another visual deterrent to potential intruders.
Change the locks when necessary
If you have people coming in and out of your property during its vacant period, keep track of who is entering and make sure you know how they have been given access.
It’s not unreasonable to give trusted contractors access to your property in your absence – for example, perhaps you have employed a letting agent to rent out your property, or need some maintenance work carrying out on the plumbing. However, it is important to keep track of how many sets of keys there are and who is responsible for each. If keys are unaccountable for, or you want to make sure that you are the only person who has access in the future for whatever reason, change the locks on all access points of the building.
Make sure the windows are really secure
If your property is going to be empty for a considerable amount of time, or you don’t feel confident that locks and closed windows are enough to keep intruders out, boarding up windows is an effective way of protecting your property.
Should you need to board the windows up at short notice (for example, perhaps the window glass has been broken by vandals or has been damaged by fire), emergency timber boarding up is quick and relatively cheap. Although timber boards are an effective deterrent, if you feel you need higher security protection, then steel security screens for windows and doors may be the better choice for you.
Install clear warning signage
Again, this is another simple but effective method of protecting a vacant property. Whether you have an alarm system or not, putting the relevant warning signs in obvious places around your property could be the difference between someone choosing to break into your property and not. These signs could allude to a particular security system, CCTV cameras or even something as simple as “Beware of the dog”. Studies show these really work.
It’s worth noting that if the property you are protecting is part of a construction site, adequate signage and demarcation is required by law. You can find out more about this here.
Install a good alarm system and CCTV
Signs alluding to an installed alarm system or CCTV surveillance will only go so far. Installing a mobile alarm system with infra red movement sensors will help alert you or the relevant authorities when your property has been broken into, so the situation can be dealt with appropriately and immediately.
Alternatively, if you wish to keep an eye on your property, installing CCTV cameras could be right for you. Not only will the appearance of such cameras be a visual deterrent, any recordings of vandalism or theft could provide vital evidence should the matter be taken to court.
If you are unable to install CCTV or a mobile alarm system in your vacant property, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the local news for the area of your property. That way, should there be a significant number of break-ins occurring in the area, you will be able to take the appropriate measures to protect your own property before its too late. Also be aware that properties close to yours may have their own CCTV systems and finding out who manages these can you help you secure value evidence if a perpetrator has been recorded as they pass by.
Erect secure fencing
If your vacant property is in a secluded or industrial area, or in an area that is prone to crime, you may want to consider security fencing. The type of fencing that is right for you will depend upon your budget and security needs. SafeSite Security Solutions can help you choose from the likes of wooden hoarding (often used for construction sites), heras fencing or even palisade and high security fencing. Again, with so many of these protection methods, not only will fencing make it harder for intruders to get in, it will also help deter opportunists by its visible presence alone. For more information see our guide to security fencing.
Should your property have a large open space that needs protecting from fly-tippers and other intruders, concrete barriers are incredibly effective at blocking vehicular access. Alternatively, plastic water filled barriers also provide a good degree of protection, but thanks to their light weight when empty, are easier to store and move around. Whichever you choose, protecting open areas of land from fly tipping and other forms of vandalism can go a long way to help stop your property becoming an advert for further damage.
If you have any questions at all about how best to protect your empty property, feel free to contact us, we’re here to help.