Topic: I am buying a second home in France, do you have any advice for keeping it secure when I am back in the UK, are there any important checks or procedures I should do when I leave the property each time?
Joe Wilson of Les Bons Voisins (LBV), an extensive network of property managers in France, replies:
Physical and technical deterrents as well as some local manpower can help keep you French property secure while you are away says Joe Wilson of LBV.
There is nothing worse than arriving at your holiday home after a long absence, and seemingly longer journey, and having the excitement of being there turn to cold dread followed by fear and anger when you see that your beloved property has been broken into, ransacked and burgled.
The start to your well-deserved holiday is now marred by calls to the police, insurance companies, completing and submitting documents, clearing up and making the property secure again.
Unfortunately, many people throughout France experience such invasions and those with second homes in remote locations are arguably more at risk and sometimes even targeted, more so than others.
And it’s not just when the property is vacant that you need to consider security: Holiday makers bring with them many attractive items such as expensive electronic goods, gifts, cash, credit cards, etc. which combined with a relaxed attitude to security because they are on holiday results in some second homes being targeted when the owners are in residence but out for the day.
But there are various steps and measures, many of them very simple, that can be taken to help secure your property and persuade would be burglars to go elsewhere. A sample of these are as follows:
- Always ensure all doors, shutters and locks are in good condition, are properly fitted and that they are used each and every time you leave the property
- Ensure that all windows and frames are likewise in good condition and secured
- Install a horizontal security bar that latches or locks (see picture below), to all ground floor shutters – This helps prevent them being forced open
- Install a suitable fence, hedge or wall around your property to prevent easy access
- Do not leave spare keys under rocks, pots, etc – If needed, correctly install a suitable combination lock, key safe
- Do not leave tools, ladders or other such items in plain sight or unsecured as these could assist opportunists to gain entry
- Keep attractive items out of sight from prying eyes and cash, jewellery, passports, etc. in a correctly fitted, fireproof safe
- Install external motion activated lighting
- Consider external and or internal CCTV cameras such as NEST or Hive systems that notify you/first responders when activated
- Install an alarm system – Consider the notification system – noise and light alone may be enough to deter intruders but if in remote areas who is available to hear it and respond?
- Use timer devices to activate various internal lights and even the television at different times to imitate the property being occupied
- Ideally employ a suitable and reputable property management company to maintain your property and garden as well as conduct regular security checks – A visibly well-maintained property is less likely to be targeted by opportunists
- Inform trusted neighbours when you will be away and ask them to lookout for any unusual activity
- Ensure any guests using the property are aware of security protocols
- Have the property checked by your property managers to ensure it is secured after each set of guests, including yourselves, vacates
Some of the above recommendations will not in themselves prevent intruders gaining access. The aim of security measures is to deter and delay intruders gaining access to your property by making it as difficult as possible so that they quickly move on to an easier, less protected property.
Every time you leave your property, take a good and critical look around the full perimeter and put yourself into the mindset of the criminal, think: What looks attractive and how can I get to it?
If you can significantly limit these factors, you are on the way to securing your property and ensuring your peace of mind whilst away from it.
Recently seen in Complete France PUBLISHED: 10:29 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:39 07 May 2020 Joe Wilson