The third installment of a new series by self-confessed DIY novice Jan Lee. She’s bought her first family home in South London, now all she needs to do is renovate it.
Step three: making it burglar proof
Worrying about security is more middle class than mock Tudor beams. I’ve generally lived around middle class people all my life, but not many of them were the belt-and-braces type. Most left their doors unlocked all day and hid spare keys under plant pots. This, it would appear, is just the norm Outside London. There, climbers are pretty plants that can be trained to grow up a trellis. Here, a climber is a euphemism for a burglar who is happy to claw his way up and onto a fourth floor balcony to nick a bike.
It took a recent breach of security to introduce me to a whole new – middle class – way of seeing my domestic idyll. Suddenly my South London sanctum became a Spartan fortress. All signs of upward mobility were to be concealed within an impregnable ring of steel. Where there is a fence, it seemed, we needed to have a perimeter, patrolled by ferocious hounds and wily ninjas, if only there were tax relief on such crime-stopping innovations.
Naturally, I have been ruing the decision not to buy enormous, fast growing thorn bushes with an appetite for dishonest human flesh. So just in case the first impressions were tempting, we have increased our deterrence in the past few weeks.
From the grafter’s eye view, our now gravel-covered path acts as a low level burglar alarm that could alert the neighbours to any unexpected visitor. It is even more audible at night when sound carries more clearly.
The garden furniture may be cheap as chips, but it has still been hitched together by a heavy duty bike chain, just to persuade the tykes that there’s nothing to gain from trying to take it.
If he is barking enough to try and break in through a window, despite never leaving anything of value in sight, there is now a very loud burglar alarm which is visible from both sides of the property and audible from several adjacent post codes. The police tell me this is one of the biggest turn-offs for burglars, who want to make a quick grab without anyone being aware of their presence. Most will not take any physical risks or expose themselves to being caught.
Finally, if sticky fingers wants to try his luck again, he’ll have to drag himself through a spiral of barbed wire, attached to a rickety trellis, and then kick the gate in on his way out. At some stage, I will invest in a proven security measure: buying a dog and teaching it to sick the bad guys. But for now, we are quite hopeful that the fortress will hold against all intruders.
The shopping list
- Alarm: cost for installation £495 from COP, installed by Security Cam
- Barbed wire and trellis: Around £25 from Wickes or garden centres
- Gravel: cost varies per square metre on type of gravel
- Noisy mongrel: approx £250, plus necessary repairs to property/burglar’s leg