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Burglary Protection and Alarm System: How to Protect your Home

3.6.2021
  1. The whole is more than the sum of its parts
  2. Behaviour and organisational measures
  3. Structural and mechanical measures: Doors
  4. Structural and mechanical measures: Windows
  5. Structural and mechanical measures: Safe
  6. Electrotechnical measures: Camera
  7. Electrotechnical measures: Light
  8. Electrotechnical measures: Alarm system
  9. Alarm system: cable or radio?
  10. Do it yourself or hire professionals?

In 2020, 32,819 burglaries and sneak-ins were reported in Switzerland. This is almost ten percent less than in the previous year, but still one burglary every 16 minutes. Many of these could have been prevented. Effective burglary protection is built on these three pillars:

  • Behavioural and organisational measures
  • Structural and mechanical measures
  • Electrotechnical measures

The whole is more than the sum of its parts

Burglars always take the path of least resistance. The more obstacles you put in their way, the more secure your burglary protection is. If a burglar only has to overcome one or two obstacles, for example a door lock and a timer, he might dare to break in. But if there are more, he will probably move on and try his luck elsewhere. Burglars want to get in quickly and, above all, get out quickly, without noise, without heavy tools, without witnesses. The greater the effort, the greater the risk of being caught.

Behaviour and organisational measures

You can minimise the danger with simple measures. The first three are even free of charge.

  1. Always lock your house or flat door. Even if you are only going out for a short time to get the mail or to have a coffee with a neighbour.
  2. Close all balcony or terrace doors and windows as soon as you leave your house or apartement. Tilted windows are open windows: dexterous burglars open them without force.
  3. Inform people in the neighbourhood or house if you will be away for a long time and ask someone to empty the letterbox regularly. Attentive neighbours are the best protection against burglary.
  4. Pretend to be present with a timer. Program the clock irregularly and switch the light on or off in different rooms so that the burglars do not recognise any rhythm. This way, they don't know if anyone is home and move on.
  5. Talk to the police before you spend money on structural and mechanical measures such as window locks and additional locks or electrotechnical measures such as alarm systems and motion detectors. The security experts will inspect your house or apartement and recommend sensible security measures that will make burglars' work massively more difficult.

Structural and mechanical measures: Doors

Most burglars have few tools with them. For example, a screwdriver to prise open simple doors without door protection. They cannot prise open new doors in this way. If you have an older house or flat door, it is worth upgrading it with a multi-point lock and additional locks and, if necessary, reinforcing it with a wooden panel. However, this is relatively costly. In addition, all locking bars should be solidly screwed and anchored.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Long security plates screwed on from the inside protect the lock cylinders and prevent burglars from breaking them off and unscrewing them.

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Structural and mechanical measures: Windows

Windows should be additionally secured with mushroom head pins. The window security is installed in the surrounding fittings and closed with the window handle. If the windows are older, you can screw rod locks onto the frame, for example. You can play it safe with a grille that is anchored in the masonry and screwed tightly with screws that prevent loosening. Welded cross-bracing prevents burglars from bending the bars apart.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Unsecured light wells are a weak point. Solidly screwed light well grids protect basement windows so securely that they do not need to be additionally secured and are allowed to stand open.

Structural and mechanical measures: Safe

At home, you should only store valuables that you regularly need at home. For example, your coin collection, watches or jewellery. Everything else belongs in a safe deposit box. Valuables should be kept in a safe with a numerical code that is firmly anchored in or on the masonry. If the safe has a lock with a key, burglars will look for the key until they find it and make a mess in the house or apartement. When choosing a safe, pay attention to the protection class.

Houzy Hint

Tip

The protection class is also important for the insurance or the insurance cover. Therefore, talk to your insurance advisor before you decide on a safe model.

Electrotechnical measures: Camera

Video cameras can deter burglars. But if they are convinced that no one is home, they may try anyway and pull their hoods deeper into their faces. A camera only documents the burglary. However, if you have installed a Smart Home camera that is controlled via your smartphone, you can call the police. In the best case, they will catch the burglar in the act or chase him away; in the worst case, they will have video evidence for the manhunt.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Install a smartphone surveillance camera rather than a dummy that is useless. You can get a good camera from 200 francs, a camera with HD resolution for 300 to 500 francs.

Burglary protection alarm system: Man installs camera
You can get a good camera for as little as CHF 200

Electrotechnical measures: Light

Many burglaries are committed during the day because the residents are absent. However, burglars often scout out a neighbourhood at night. For example, if you are on holiday and your house or apartement is dark at night, it will be noticed. That is why it is important to pretend to be present. The easiest way to do this is with a timer. It makes sense to programme the clock so that the light in different rooms goes on and off at different times. Just as if you were at home.

Houzy Hint

Tip

A motion detector costs little and is easy to install. Shock lighting scares burglars away because there is nothing they fear more than the attention of neighbours or the police.

Electrotechnical measures: Alarm system

An alarm system complements the burglary protection. Whether you need one depends on your security needs. Some people feel safe without one, others find it enormously reassuring. An alarm system detects and reports as soon as someone tries to break into the house or apartement. You can install contacts on doors and windows that are particularly at risk or on all doors and windows. The basis for an alarm system is a security concept that takes into account all household processes. Among other things, all movements of pets. Otherwise, your cat will trigger false alarms and police interventions, which are usually charged for.

Houzy Hint

Tip

The most important question is what should happen when an alarm is triggered. Should a silent alarm notify the police or a loud alarm drive away the burglars? The intervention strategy is a central part of the security concept and a task for security experts.

Alarm system: Cable or radio?

That depends on your home. If you are building a new home or renovating your house or apartement, a wired alarm system is more suitable. If you want to retrofit an older property, a wireless alarm system makes more sense because it can be easily and discreetly installed at a later date. Good alarm systems, whether wired or wireless, are tamper-proof and modularly expandable. They can be combined with video cameras as well as gas, smoke, temperature or water level detectors and controlled remotely, for example via a smartphone or tablet. In addition, they can increasingly be integrated into an existing or new Smart Home system and networked, for example, with a wristband transmitter, fall sensor or emergency call button that immediately summons help in an emergency.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Some insurance companies offer premium discounts if you install an alarm system. Ask your insurance advisor whether a model is recognised - and remember that in the event of a claim, the insurance company may reduce or cancel benefits if you had switched off the system.

Burglary protection: App for alarm system
You can control modern alarm systems remotely, for example with a smartphone or tablet

Do it yourself or hire professionals?

Effective burglary protection is built on three pillars. Much of it you can do yourself: Change your behaviour and introduce organisational measures, probably also implement simpler structural or mechanical measures. There are now also relatively simple Smart Home alarm systems that you can probably install and set up yourself. However, it becomes difficult as soon as you want to coordinate all measures, because they only unfold their full power together. For this, you need a comprehensive security concept with a well thought-out intervention strategy. It is better to leave this to professional security experts. Therefore, get advice before you buy an alarm system.

In your Houzy profile, under "Security", you will find a security analysis of your house or apartement with valuable tips on how to effectively protect your home. Log in or register and find out what you can do.

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