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Your guide to keeping yourself and your property safe on the Costa Blanca

Personal safety in SpainCRIME PREVENTION

Living on the Costa Blanca we are sadly often made aware of various crimes being committed in and around Javea, Moraira, Denia and Calpe. Gladly it is not as prevalent as in some areas of Spain and other parts of Europe or indeed the UK. Nevertheless some crime does happen and when we are made aware, it can affect our lives, especially our peace and tranquillity. To remove some of our fears and help reduce crime in our area there are some basic and simple actions we can all take. They are mostly common sense, but it does no harm to remind ourselves occasionally. It is our community, we live here, and every little helps, let’s put the basics into action.

I shall try to concentrate mainly on practical matters and the steps that can be easily taken; the subject of crime prevention is vast, in particular the theory. Over the next few issues I intend to cover topical matters such as:  protection of the home, inside and out; opportunist thieves; bogus callers and how to beat them; making life difficult for the thief, keeping your belongings safe; personal safety; vehicle crime; street crime and fire and safety.

Unfortunately far too many householders have to experience the loss and distress of being burgled. Simple and effective advice on home security can help us protect our home and our peace of mind.

How to protect around the house

Windows

A third of burglars get in through a back window. Visible locks may deter some thieves as it means they have to break the glass and risk attracting attention. Help keep out thieves by:

• fitting key operated window locks to all downstairs windows and easily accessible upstairs windows, such as those above a flat roof or a drainpipe

• gluing in slats in louvre windows so that they cannot be removed easily

• if you are replacing windows consider laminated glass.

Remember that it is often an insurance requirement that rejas (bars) are fitted.

Most important, consider your exits in the event of emergency.

Doors

If your doors are not secure then neither is your home. Secure your doors by:

• fitting a good lock to all your doors - a five lever mortice lock is recommended

• patio doors should have special locks fitted to the top and bottom, seek advice.

• glass panels on doors are particularly vulnerable and should be replaced with laminated glass

• make sure doors and frames are in a good and strong condition

• if you are thinking of buying PVC or metal framed doors/windows, make sure they come with good built in locks and a fitted chain, as these can be expensive to add afterwards.

Alarms

Visible burglar alarms make burglars think twice. Get advice to see what is recommended. Always take the after sales service into consideration.

Be aware of fire risks

As with all security measures, consideration must be given to the risk of fire and means of escape. Fit a smoke detector. If you have laminate glass on any windows and doors or rejas (bars) then remember that you will not be able to break it if you need to escape your house in an emergency and you will therefore need to make sure you have another means of exit. Again, seek advice

Anyone home?

Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves, so with a few simple measures you can help deter thieves from targeting your home.

The first thing a burglar wants to know is whether there is anyone in. You can make it more difficult for a burglar by:

• leaving lights and/or a radio on while you are out and using a timer switch if you are away for a few days

• opening your curtains and taking in any deliveries before you leave the house in the morning

• asking your neighbours or a friend to keep an eye on your home if you are going away - perhaps they could come and draw the curtains for you, this will help to make your house look lived in - you can then do the same for them while they are away

• don't forget to cancel any deliveries while you are away

• don't leave valuable items in view while you are out

Is your property security marked?

There are vast warehouses of recovered property that cannot be returned to the rightful owner; they can’t be located. If property can’t be traced the offence is more difficult to prove and in some circumstances the items are restored to the thief!

Security marking, photographing and inventorying valuable items of property will discourage burglars from stealing them by making it difficult to sell them on. If the worse happens and a property is burgled, the chances of a return visit (repeat victimisation) is reduced, the thief has been made aware that the value to him is almost nil.

It will also help the police to trace you as the owner of your property.

You should mark your property with a unique number such as Passport or NIF number.

Property can be marked and recorded in a number of ways:

• Photographs - Some items, such as jewellery and antiques may not be suitable for marking. Therefore photographs of items should be obtained and kept safe with a detailed record of any serial numbers or markings. If your property is stolen this information will help the police to recover your items. To deter burglars you can obtain window stickers, which say that you have security marked your property. Leave a copy with your insurance company. If the worst does happen they can facilitate your claim easier.

• Permanent marking - An engraving tool and a stencil will mark your unique code on the property you want to protect such as bicycles, televisions, computers and home entertainment systems.

• Invisible marking - Your unique code can be written on property using an ultra violet (UV) pen. This mark can only be seen by using a special lamp and fades over a time so marking should be refreshed every six months. Until the police routinely screen for UV marking it is advisable to consider alternative methods.

Outside

Don't forget to secure the outside of your home:

• fit a strong lockable gate across side passages

• never leave a garage or shed unlocked

• keep expensive pool and garden equipment locked in a shed overnight and when you are away

• keep ladders and tools locked up so thieves can't use them to gain access to your house

• you may want to secure expensive garden plants while you are away

Lighting

Good lighting can deter a thief. Security lights which use infra red sensors and come on when movement is detected are recommended. However, any outside light that you can leave on while you are out will help. If you already have existing outside lighting you can buy sensors to convert them into a security light.

Keys

• never leave spare key in a hiding place as thieves will know where to look

• if you've recently moved into your house you may want to seriously consider changing the door locks as other people may have keys that fit.

Stephen Greenhough.
Served as a Detective at New Scotland Yard for many years, investigating burglaries, robberies, fraud and serious crime.

Loss Protection Services BSecure S.L.


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