Security advice booklet for owners of residential property

We inform - you profit!

Security advice booklet for owners of residential property

We inform - you profit!

Security for your home - how to protect yourself properly!

The purchasing of a property is a wide-ranging matter - in the decision phase, prospective buyers concern themselves with the purchase price negotiations, the contract design, the financing, the conversion and the move. Time and again, however, it is clear that the security aspects are not being given sufficient attention. 

It is advisable to devote sufficient time to the topic of security when constructing or buying a property. The police and security experts will offer independent advice in response to inquiries and will show you the weak points of your house and how these can be prevented. By the way, they will do this even if you have already decided on certain measures and will be happy to approve your plans.

Our guidebook will provide you with all the necessary information. Your local Engel & Völkers advisor will be happy to assist you or recommend experts.

Table of contents

1. Weak points of a property

Burglars have trained eyes when it comes to scouting out the easiest way into the interior of a house. In detached houses, break-ins occur most frequently through the terrace or balcony door, basement exits or through the window. 

In the case of buildings divided into flats, most perpetrators enter through the main entrance door or insufficiently secured flat doors, but also through windows, terraces or balcony doors on lower floors. Garage extensions, conservatories, pergolas, balconies, porches, fire ladders, and wrongly placed waste containers and garden furniture are virtually invitations for burglars.

- Schwachstellen einer Liegenschaft

  1. Doors / corridor doors / cellar doors
  2. Windows / French windows / balcony doors
  3. Roof windows / skylight windows
  4. Shutters 
  5. Cellar and light shaft grilles
  6. Valuables outside the building
  7. Person

2. 3-pillar principle of burglary protection

Effective burglary protection is based on a 3-pillar principle:

  1. Personal behaviour
  2. Structural and mechanical measures
  3. Electronix measures

Personal behaviour

As the first pillar, the main focus should always be on the personal behaviour of each person. Doors and windows must be locked in the case of absences. Absences should not be made unnecessarily obvious. Letterboxes should always be emptied and the garden should be maintained even in the case of a longer absence. Timer clocks are used to (irregularly) draw curtains and switch the lights on and off. How one uses social media is becoming increasingly important. The absence should neither be announced nor commented on continuously via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

Structural and mechanical measures

The second pillar consists of structural and mechanical measures. These should be at the top of the list in specific security plans, because they are the essential prerequisite for effective burglary protection. With such protection, the main entry points, such as windows, doors, French doors and cellars or light shafts, can be secured against attacks with screwdrivers, crowbars, etc. by means of additional locks or safeguards. These additional safety devices cause the burglar to meet with a high level of mechanical resistance. Most burglars abandon their attempt if they cannot achieve their aim within a few minutes.

Electronic measures

In order for such structural and mechanical measures to report the (attempted) break-in, electronic measures are required. Although alarm systems (pressure or motion detectors, video surveillance) as electronic measures (third pillar) do not prevent the break-in, they do call attention to it (silent or audible alarm). Electronic devices clearly minimise the risk of a break-in, because they also have a deterrent effect.

maximum level of protection is therefore always provided by a combination of personal behaviour, structural and mechanical measures, and electronic measures.

3. Protection for valuables & personal security

The most precious valuables belong in a safe. This should be firmly anchored in or on the masonry (concrete), so that it cannot simply be taken away and opened in another place without time pressure. For valuables that are only rarely needed, it is recommended to store them outside the property (e.g. in a safe deposit box or safe). A safe lock with a number code should be chosen, because a key-opened safe will cause burglars to suspect there is a replacement key in the house. 

For larger objects of value such as works of art or collections, a high-security room can be built in as required, which can in addition be used for personal security. Such a high-security room (panic room) should be equipped with an intelligent communication system and facilities (e.g. own ventilation system, emergency supplies, sanitary facilities) to ensure survival and effective protection even over several days.

Nowadays, so-called panic buttons, connected to an alarm signal or a silent alarm, are also built into properties. This panic button can be used to automatically bolt the doors of a room (e.g. the bedroom). This is especially useful if you don't have time to leave the room and are looking for absolute protection. This can be extended so that entire floors can be locked by means of a sliding door or a grille. Bullet-proof windows can also be an issue and be included in the general security precautions.

4. Security in the case of holiday-related absence

12 important questions on protection in the case of holiday-related absence - a tabular overview:

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5. Securing doors

In single-family houses, the main targets of burglars are windows, balcony doors and unprotected or obscured basement exits, in blocks of flats it is often the main entrance doors. Increasing burglary protection at the door additionally guards against robberies and confidence tricksters. Precisely because burglars do not only come when you are out of the house, retrofittable security technology offers a decisive advantage.

Simple tools (e.g. screwdrivers) are often used as levers by burglars. Normally, doors without additional security measures can be levered open quite easily. Door manufacturers now offer a variety of doors to choose from that are certified as anti-burglary, which also meet all aesthetic requirements. With multi-point locks, an attempt to pry the door open meets with much more resistance, making it substantially more difficult to break in. Old doors can be retrofitted with additional locks without great effort.

- Eingangstüre Haus

Solutions include armoured deadlocks or additional door locks that are equipped with a safety catch that allows the door to be opened only slightly. It is important that all the closing strips are solidly screwed in and anchored, as this is the only way in which they will form a functioning whole with all the additional locks. In addition, to prevent lock cylinders from being forcibly broken off and unscrewed, these should be protected by means of long security escutcheons which are specially screwed on from the inside. The doubling of an entrance door can also be an effective measure.

Another efficient instrument is the spyhole, which allows one to see in front of the door with being seen oneself. It should have a viewing angle of at least 200 degrees, so that an uninvited visitor cannot hide outside the viewing radius. Today, spyholes are also available in electronic form. An intercom, ideally in combination with a video system, can help you to identify unwanted visitors and thus protect yourself against robbery or tricksters in advance.

6.Securing windows

Many burglars try to get into the property through a window, which is why the protection of windows must be given increased priority. Basically, the same applies to windows as to doors: They are usually pressed or levered by the burglars at their weak points and should therefore ideally be secured with special latches. For retrofitting older windows, rod locks can be screwed onto the frame. Each window handle should also be lockable.

Ideally, the window pane should be designed as security glazing for windows that are at risk of burglary. It is also possible to retrofit normal glazing by using foils. A window rod lock in combination with a hinge side catch is generally regarded as the safest variant.

- Fenster Haus

Rolling and folding shutters can offer additional protection, but they are no substitute for the anti-burglary measures already mentioned. With regard to personal security, it is also possible to have bullet-proof windows installed.

Another alternative are window grilles, which are installed where the window cannot be designed to prevent burglary. It is important, however, that the window grille is anchored in the masonry (concrete) and is firmly screwed on with special anti-loosening screws. Additionally welded cross braces prevent the rods from being bent apart. Light well shafts should certainly be securely screwed in place to prevent entry through a shaft.

7. Alarm systems

It is well known that burglars are aware of and use the weak points of a property. An alarm system is the ideal complement to the structural and mechanical basic measures which represent an important level of the holistic security concept for the property. They make access to the house or flat more difficult. Since, however, any structural and mechanical protection can be overcome if a burglar can only practice his craft for a sufficiently long time unobserved, then the next level of protection must be an alarm system. This triggers an alarm (alarm signal or silent alarm) in the event of a break-in or attempted break-in.

Alarm systems generally operate according to the following technical principle: an intrusion into a building or security area is reported by means of various sensors. This can be by means of pressure or motion detectors, but smoke, water and flue gas can also be detected by sensors. A distinction is made between radio alarm systems, wired alarm systems and hybrid alarm systems.

These alarms can be additionally connected to a security company which, after an alarm is triggered, informs the police if necessary. In general, the trend is increasingly towards electronic security by means of a camera, internet, tablet or smartphone, in which you can use a mobile app to remotely and independently watch over your own property and switch the alarm system on and off.

8. Behaviour during a burglary

In the event of a break-in, the first measure should be to alert the police. No confrontation with the burglar or burglars should be sought, because this can become very dangerous, especially if the burglars are cornered while trying to escape or their attempts to escape are stopped. It is worth keeping a cool head and waiting for the police to arrive, personal safety is always the first priority.

Ideally, you should leave the house or property, especially if you come home while the break-in is occurring and catch the burglar in the act. If you cannot leave the house, especially if you are woken up at night by sounds in the house, you should lock yourself and your family in a room and loudly announce your presence. The light should be switched on and if possible you should shout out of a window for help. If available, you should go to the security room (panic room) as quickly as possible or press the so-called panic button, which can automatically lock the doors of a room. 

9. Glossary

  • Structural and mechanical measures
    In mechanical measures, elements such as windows, doors, French doors and basement shafts are secured against attacks with screwdrivers, crowbars and similar objects by means of additional locks. These additional safety devices cause the burglar to meet with a high level of mechanical resistance.

  • Electronic measures
    Alarm systems do not prevent the break-in, but report it. However, electronic devices significantly increase the risk of burglars being detected. In addition, such installations provide a deterrent effect.

  • Shock lighting
    When it is dark, the outside light is automatically switched on by an infrared detector as soon as someone enters the monitored area. This drives away unwanted visitors and lights the way for you and your guests.

  • Silent alarm
    With a silent alarm, no acoustic signals are triggered. However, the police are immediately alerted by means of telecommunications. This means that you do not want to put time pressure on the burglar, or even force him to flee immediately, which in turn gives the police more time.

  • Panic Room 
    Security room inside a house where residents can take refuge in the event of an attack or break-in. Such a room is planned-in by the architect and is normally equipped with the best security technology. The room should be designed in such a way that survival is assured for several days (own ventilation system, emergency supplies, sanitary facilities) and is connected to the alarm via the alarm system when necessary.

Do you have questions about this exciting topic or are you interested in a print edition? Our real estate experts on site will be happy to help you.

Portraitfoto von Thomas Frigo

Thomas Frigo

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