How to avoid becoming a target for crime
The importance of stopping prowlers and burglars from wandering through your rear garden is obvious. The only trouble is that not everybody wants to live with a back garden that resembles a prisoner of war camp, with barbed wire fences around the perimeter.
There are several types of external lighting systems.
As you will probably not want a floodlight on all the time, this type of system uses a Passive Infra-Red (PIR) sensor which, when it has detected a person in its range, automatically switches on a Quartz Halogen type floodlight.
Imagine a burglar sneaking behind a house at night being greeted by a floodlight being switched on. Not many stay to commit crime.
This type of unit may also help to reduce the fear of crime. If you have to go out to the rear of your property at night, it's great to be welcomed by a bright light. Be sure, however, that it is adjusted not to shine into your neighbours rooms.
The better systems have the sensor in a separate unit from the light. This enables you to have more than one PIR sensor or light, linked together in one system.
Low Wattage Lights
Some people prefer external lighting that comes on automatically at dusk and stays on all night until dawn. This is particularly beneficial where the property is overlooked by people passing by, or residents.
If low wattage economy bulbs are used these can cost less than 1p per night in electricity.
Siting of these lights is important to ensure that dark shadowed areas are not created. Unlit areas can provide a hiding place for a thief or instil a fear that someone could be hiding there.
These lights can be controlled by timers so that the lights go on and off at a set time every day, or by a photocell darkness detector which switches the lights on or off depending on the level of darkness.
The actual lights can be any number or style, from ornate coach lights to practical bulkhead lamps.
Fences, Trees and Climbing Plants
- Making thieves feel exposed when they approach the front of your property can help. Low hedges and low fencing (or transparent high fences) will increase the feeling, as will outside lighting.
- Side gates are best positioned level with the front of your house so they can be seen.
- Most burglars break into a house from the back. Good rear garden fences or hedges, coupled with a side gate will help protect your home.
- When choosing the type of fence, you should consider the view neighbours or the public have of the front and rear of your home. A high fence may be difficult to climb over, but can stop people casually observing your house. A low fence is easy to climb over but enables everybody to see a burglar.
- The type of fence which has a trellis on the top is difficult to climb over, but does not obstruct visibility.
- Trees are often chosen for their quick growing ability alone, with little thought to natural surveillance.
- Hedges made from Cypress Leylandii are ideal for providing privacy, but they may stop neighbours from seeing burglars breaking into a home after they've pushed through the bushes.
- If a holly such as Ilex Aquifolium were planted instead, you would still have privacy, but few thieves would get through.
- The hawthorn Paul Scarlet (Coccinea Plena) not only bears beautiful scarlet coloured blossoms, but has prickly thorns. This is normally the best choice for an average rear garden, as being deciduous, it sheds its leaves in Autumn, letting neighbours see your home in Winter.
- Drain pipes giving access to flat roofs and windows, can easily be protected by barbed wire or anti-climb paint. Think how much nicer a rambling rose such as Leverkusen, which grows to about 10” in height and produces pale yellow flowers, would be.
- There are numerous varieties of prickly deciduous shrubs, which may be used as an effective barrier. Growing prickly shrubs next to your wall or fence would deter most criminals from climbing over.
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