The security of the perimeter of your home is the first priority. Security companies such as Banham or Chubb produce useful literature that give recommendations about locks and alarms, and your local police Crime Prevention Officer will also be happy to give you advice. Specialist art insurance brokers and insurers will also give advice on security and often offer a service of visiting your home to give personal advice. Here are some general pointers:

Home & contents

All external doors need to be secured with at least one 5, 6 or 7 lever mortice or rim deadlock. There are many cheap imitations on the market, so you should look for the BS 3621 for the correct level of protection.

Windows are most vulnerable to forced entry, especially at the rear of the house. Key operated locks exist for all types of windows whether they are sash, casement or metal framed. All ground floor windows should have locks fitted, as should any accessible upper windows near flat roofs or drainpipes.

French windows and sliding doors require locks to the top, bottom and centre. Most modern units come with built-in locks.

Outbuildings and garages often contain valuable equipment and need to be secured with a mortice lock or a padlock. The best padlocks have the hasp of the lock protected by the shoulder of the lock which helps reduce the risk of it being cut off.

Security lighting, which is activated automatically by movement is a great deterrent to burglars, as is gravel on driveways which causes noise.

Alarms are a back-up to your physical security and should not be a substitute for it. They are essential for contents values in excess of £100,000. It is highly recommended that the alarm be linked to a central monitoring station, and with this service sensors can also be fitted for fire and flood, so that your home has an early warning system for all these risks. The alarm company should be a member of National Approval Council for Security Systems (NACOSS), which ensures a minimum standard of quality and allows your equipment to be used again should your alarm company cease trading.

Outside garden furniture and statuary should be secured by being cemented or chained, and gardens can have alarm sensors fitted to detect intruders.

Driveway gates, CCTV systems and door entry systems are advisable for larger properties.

Keys — Have your keys registered with a company so that they may be returned to you if lost. Never leave them within reach of a letterbox or cat flap, because thieves have been known to fish them out on long sticks.

Safes can be installed into a wall, or fixed to a floor. Ask your insurance company for the rating level, as the lower specification safes will only be suitable for about £30,000 of jewellery. If you have a large quantity of jewellery, watches and other small valuables, consider having two safes, to split the value between them.

Never allow strangers into your house unless you are expecting them and always ask to see and examine any identification documents.

If you are considering having an item valued or want to sell it, do not deal with doorstep callers, speak to a BADA member for professional advice.

Listing antiques

Once you are confident your home is secure you should then focus on your personal treasures. The police are often hampered in their efforts to recover stolen property because owners are unable to supply accurate descriptions or photographs. Photographs help the police and the recovery agencies (such as the Art Loss Register and Invaluable) to return stolen antiques and works of art to their rightful owners. If you commission a professional valuation, photographs ought to be included as part of the service provided by the valuer, but they may not always be sufficient.

Photography & video

Here follow some useful guidelines and hints on taking photographs that stand some chance of helping your items be traced by the police and returned to you.

  • Use colour film, preferably 200 or 400 ISO, or a digital camera with at least two megapixels.
  • Give some indication of size by including a ruler or a coin in the photograph.
  • Ensure the article being photographed is as large as possible in the viewfinder, but do not let the image go out of focus.
  • Where possible take photographs using good natural daylight.
  • Take additional photographs of any unique part of the item.
  • Use natural light to reduce reflections on polished metal or glass. A polarising filter can further reduce reflections on glass surfaces.
  • Where the objects form part of a set, take individual photographs to show fine details, as opposed to an overall view.
  • Photograph glassware and silverware against a dark background. For other items use a light or neutral background — plain brown paper is ideal. Avoid any pattern in the background.
  • Keep the photographs and negatives separate in a secure place, together with an inventory of the items. Do not keep them in your antique bureau — it could be one of the items stolen in the burglary!
  • Videoing items is excellent for all but the most valuable. Take a video of every room of your home. It will provide evidence of the condition of your property and will be very valuable in the event of an insurance claim. An added bonus is that you can talk over the video.
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