What's the best way to protect your home against burglars?

Internal and external lights and window and door locks are more effective in reducing burglary than alarms, new research shows.

A study led by Professor Andromachi Tseloni, Professor of Quantitative Criminology at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), found that the best burglary deterrent is the 'WIDE' security combination: Window locks, Indoor lights on a timer, Door double or deadlocks and External lights on a timer or sensor.

Homes with this security combination are 49 times more protected from burglary than those with no security, the researchers found.

By contrast, alarms as a stand-alone security feature are associated with a slight increase in the risk of burglary. What's more, when combined with other security devices, they can even reduce the overall protection the remaining devices would have afforded without them, the study suggests.

Although burglary rates have been declining for more than 20 years, an analysis of Crime Survey for England and Wales data shows unequal falls in burglary coupled with an uneven presence of effective security across population groups.

For example, in social rented housing, which is 76% less likely to have WIDE security compared to owner-occupied dwellings, the odds of burglary have nearly tripled relative to owner-occupied homes. Similarly, owner-occupied dwellings are 77% more likely than those which are privately rented to have WIDE security measures in their homes, leading to the odds of burglary against private rented homes compared to owner-occupied dwellings standing at 63% more.

The findings of the research have been published in a new book entitled Reducing Burglary, written by Professor Tseloni, Dr Rebecca Thompson and Professor Nick Tilley. The book includes burglary prevention advice for homeowners, housing associations and crime prevention agencies.

Dr Thompson, senior lecturer in Criminology at NTU's School of Social Sciences, said: "As well as substantial financial loss and property damage, burglary leads to high levels of anxiety and fear of crime. This research is the first study of what really works in security interventions against burglary.

"Our findings show that burglar alarms overall confer no protection and the WIDE combination is the best value for the number of devices."

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