9 Heritage Property Security Tips

9 Heritage Property Security Tips


Criminals are persistent people.

They won't be put off easily if you’ve got something they want.

So, you lock the doors, the windows, pull up the drawbridge and release the hounds, right?

If only it was so easy.

There aren’t many properties in the UK with a drawbridge.

And unless your name’s Mr. Burns and you live in Springfield, USA, you can’t just set the dogs loose.

What can you do to protect your estate without a Bond villain budget?


Know who, and then know how

The first thing you need to do is find out who’s going to come snooping.

Historic house criminals come in all shapes and sizes.

If you want to know how to spot naughty people whilst in heritage properties, read this article.

However, even if you’re the best in the world at spotting criminals, some will still slip through the net.

And when that happens, you need to be ready.

You need to have done everything possible, within reason, to stop Joe Blogs from running off with your Civil War artifacts.


Secure the perimeter

You don’t need 30 security guards walking around at night to lock down your estate.

Technology has come a long way recently, particularly when it comes to security cameras.

A security camera can keep watch night and day and will send you alerts when it detects movement.

This means you and your team will be kept out of harm’s way if someone tries to get into your property.

And if you’re worried about big, white, ugly security cameras ruining the look of your buildings, there’s no need.

CCTV cameras are now compact, wireless and come in black, so they won’t compromise a building’s aesthetic.

Find out here which security camera is best for you.

On the other hand, it’s likely that you’ve already got what you need.

Gates. Close them, lock them, and make sure they can’t be lifted off their hinges.

When gates are made from iron they’re too heavy to lift off. And will make a mess of any car that tries to ram through them.


Don’t make it easy

Arguably the most important practice.

Put away or lock up anything that can help force entry to your property.

Ladders left around a heritage property are a big no-no!

After you’ve spent so much time being careful and all that money on security. The last thing you want to do is give a helping hand.

The same applies to crowbars, jemmies, and axes.

Putting them away takes only a few minutes of your time.

And will save you a big headache later on.


Protect the buildings

You’ve secured your perimeter and you’ve put away all aides.

The next line of defence is on your buildings.

Again, you can’t go wrong with security cameras. They’re the best way to find out what’s going on at the earliest opportunity.

But if you’re looking for a different deterrent, motion-sensitive lights are a good option.

If someone's trying to get into your property unseen, a light suddenly coming on won’t help their nerves.

Whichever method you choose, lights, camera, or both. Make sure they’re placed up high.

If they’re too low, they can be easily tampered with or covered.


Increase the risk of injury

Yes, that sounds very un-PC.

To clarify, we don’t want anyone to hurt themselves.

All we’re saying is, if you make someone think they’ll hurt themselves, they’ll probably think twice.

So, what can you do?

You surround your heritage property with a Monty Don style moat.

That means adding soft, uneven ground, like flower beds, under windows. Making ladder positions unstable.

The best things to put in your new flower beds would be anything prickly.

Some climbing roses would be a functional and beautiful addition to your defence. Perhaps even a gorse bush to add a prick of yellow?

Cuts and scratch marks on a thief’s legs are a bit of a giveaway.


Last line of defence

Joe Blogs has made his way past your outer perimeter, dodged the PIR lighting, and scrambled up a wobbly ladder.

Now what?

Many heritage properties are fitted with window shutters, use them!

Window shutters are an effective barrier on the first and ground floors. If Joe doesn’t know what’s on the other side of your shutter, he’s less likely to break in.

But what if he breaks in anyway?

This where you’re motion detection alarm kicks in.

If you haven’t got one already, they’re a must-have for historic properties.

As soon as someone steps in front of a motion sensor it’ll trigger your alarm. Telling you someone’s in your building when they shouldn’t be.

This type of alarm is commonly fitted on the ground floor.

But consider adding them to your first floor too.

It’s a common entry point for professional thieves. They know your ground floor is locked down tight.

By using your shutters as a deterrent and motion detection as an alert, you nullify the vulnerable areas of your property.


Break into your own home

This is important.

You’ve just spent money on improving your security.

What if it doesn’t work?

You need to test it.

This doesn’t mean you set to your property in full camo with a crowbar and a blowtorch.

Can you sneak past your security cameras without getting an alert on your phone?

How easy is it to get to a first-floor window?

Can you wiggle through any windows because they can’t be locked?

A red light on a motion sensor flashes on when an infrared beam is sent out. How far can you get into a room without it coming on?

This is the type of thing thieves will be looking at when they wander around your property as ‘innocent’ visitors.

If you can break in, so can they.


Little tricks for little bits

Small items are much easier to steal.

They’re far easier to slip under a jacket than say, a Gillows table.

Stopping short of gluing everything down, what can be done?

Number one, keep anything of value away from windows.

If it’s small, valuable, and visible from a window, you’re running the risk of a smash-and-grab attack.

So, rearrange your displays so that small items can’t be seen from outside the property.

Of course, this won’t completely stop items being taken.

An effective method suggested by Sir Thomas Ingleby of the Stately Home Hotline, was to fill any opaque objects with lead ball bearings.

Doing this, you’ll make objects surprisingly heavy and difficult to conceal. And a pile of lead pellets on the floor is a giveaway that something suspicious has happened.

When a smaller valuable is taken from a tabletop, you may not notice it’s gone missing for a few days or weeks.

Counter this by taking photos of your displays. You’ll be able to refer back to them the moment you think something's missing.

The faster you react, the more likely you are to find it.



The rise in the cost of living will make more people turn to crime to pay their bills.

Lead theft shows no sign of letting up and heritage properties are seen as an easy payday.

We’ve worked on National Trust Properties across the UK and they all had something in common; they were vulnerable.

Limited or no security meant they’d had problems with trespass, damage, and theft.

We changed that by adding security cameras to their vulnerable areas.



First things first, find out who your thieves are.

Vigilance is your first and most effective way to protect your property.

When that doesn’t work, turn to technology to keep your estate secure.

We’re big advocates for historic house security cameras.

But security goes much further than that.

Some of the best ways to stop crime in heritage properties are free. Others are low-tech and could add to the building’s aesthetic.

  • Secure your perimeter with cameras
  • Close your gates
  • Put all aides like ladders and crowbars away
  • Add motion-sensitive lights and cameras to buildings
  • Make accessing your first floor unsafe with uneven ground and hostile plants.
  • Close first and ground-floor shutters
  • Install motion detection alarms on the 1st floor.
  • Test your defences
  • Protect your smaller items.

The most important thing is that you feel your estate is secure when you're home or away.

You can’t always be there, a security strategy means you can be indirectly.

Head over to our camera page to see what you can use to improve your security.


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