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Providing pet-sitting services in Newcastle for 25 years. Estd.1992   
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Advice To Visitors

Visitor & Client (1)

Visitor & Client (2)

Be Discreet!

Be Secure!

Be More Secure!

A Pet Visit

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Disguising the signs of an empty property

There are many give-away signs that will lead a would-be opportunist burglar to suspect that a property has been left empty. By removing or hiding these signs we are able to increase the doubt in a burglar's mind and therefore improve the security of the property. Your general aim as a Visitor should be to try to make everything appear as if life is carrying on as normal and the property is busy.

In the summer months a front garden that is normally well kept will soon become unkempt unless attended to. Problems will arise with long lawn grass and growing weeds, dry flower beds, pots and hanging baskets. You should arrange to water these plants and, if the client is to be away for some time, cut the lawn.

Other signs in the garden are a build up of rubbish in the borders, an excess of autumn leaves on the lawn or the drive or ontop of the parked car. In the winter, undisturbed snow on the drive and the car shows lack of use. You should sweep up rubbish and leaves, trample the snow, clear snow from the car.

Note that a car on the drive can give quite a convincing indication that there is someone in the house.

After strong winds always check that bins, free-standing plant pots, fences and aerials are in place.

Problems can arise in the back garden or yard similar to those of the front. These are of particular concern if the garden or yard is overlooked by other properties or from a public walkway. Make use of the washing line, you can put out and take in 'washing', tea-towels etc from time to time, this will show a degree of activity in the house.

After the binmen have been always check that the bins have been correctly put away.

Mail and newspapers poking out of a letterbox suggest that there is nobody home, even if they have only gone out for the day, however, such mail left there overnight is a sure sign that the house has been left empty.

Similarly for mail building up behind a glass front door. You should pile the mail up somewhere in the house where it can not easily be seen from a window.

If you are not dealing with the curtains, advise the client not to leave ground floor curtains completely closed, this is another 'tell' and is an old mistake that people still make.

If you are dealing with curtains try to keep to the owner's usual routine for opening and closing.

Houseplants, especially those in windows should not be removed. It may be easier to water them if they are all in the same place but their removal from the windows will be noticed.

Some people put plants in the kitchen sink or in the bath when they go away, a glance through the window at such plants might be enough to suggest that this house is not occupied, and that the owners are away for some time so you should advise against this.

As with the storage of mail, make sure large stocks of petfood are not left out on a counter top where they can be seen from a window, this only serves as an indication that someone is calling at the property to see to the pets.

It may be advisable that the client removes very expensive or irreplaceable items from the property altogether. If they do this they should let you know what they have done otherwise you may be left on your first visit thinking that they have already been burgled!

It is probably not a good idea (from a security point of view) to cover furniture and electrical items with dust sheets. If it looks as though the house is impractical to live in, a burglar may well take this as indication that the owner is away.

Timers can be fitted to lamps and radios or where timers are not used, the internal lighting can be altered periodically, a radio could be left on during the day and switched off at night. All such precautions will enhance the impression of activity in the house.

Securing empty properties

There are various permanent security fixtures and fittings that are in common use, such as house alarms, sensor activated security lighting, window locks, window bars and steel shuttering, new high quality deadlocks etc.

Use of such fittings or a lack of them will give you a fair indication of the client's real concerns about security. Beware however, just because such things are in place does not necessarily mean that they are also in use! Discuss their use with the client.

Some home insurance policies include specific requirements for the installation of security fittings such as five-lever locks and window locks. Failure to install such items or to make proper use of them when they are installed can have serious consequences in the event of a claim arising from a break-in.

It would not be unreasonable for you to broach this subject with the client. If a break-in did occur and the insurance was subsequently found to be invalid the client may decide to try to recuop their losses by pursuing you for damages or negligence - beware! Make sure all windows, external doors and outhouses are secure.

Various house keys, left at the property must be securely stored away and most certainly should not be left in their locks.

It is probably not advisable to lock internal doors as a burglar, once inside the house, will simply break them open.

In the garage, ladders and steps should be chained up, tools that could be useful to a burglar should be locked away out of sight.

I think that is quite enough for now! There are many more security and deterrent tricks that we use, but I'm afraid they are not for public consumption.

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