With many years experience of carrying out snagging inspections security has always been something that we have advised on, as the general quality of the double glazed units in Spain is not the same quality as that of those in the UK.
Only a few of the obvious items are things like bolts that lock into the frame are plastic rather that metal, window handles don’t have locks, and where bolts go into tiles the retaining holes are badly drilled
The need for additional security measures is more important when the resort is very quiet and during the months of extended darkness when both mornings and evenings are darker
Security of any property is all about basic common sense precautions, but the fact remains that if a person is totally intent to get into your property they will, just by using simple brute force, by breaking the glass or by forcing doors or windows which is noisy, but if the resort is quiet this really doesn’t matter
This document will run through basic common sense security tips for a variety of options including security lighting, additional locks, alarms and security grills
One of the most important aspects of property security is to have somebody carrying out regular checks on the property, somebody locally in Spain, holding a key, looking for any early signs of activity on attempted break-ins and local resources to be able to deal with problems
Recently we have had to deal with a number of break ins for clients in The Costa Blanca where really the Police reporting is only a formality required for the insurance company, The Police really don’t have the resource to even visit the property to investigate.
There are a couple of things to do to make it easier if the worst happens; record the serial numbers of electrical items and do an inventory of the contents of the property
It really doesn’t matter what floor your property is located on; the key to protecting the property starts at the outside of the property, the areas outside doors and windows, entrance halls and balconies.
A common method used to get into the properties above ground floor is to get into an empty adjoining property and then climb over balconies
PIR lights are a good solution because the last thing somebody wants is to be lit up or to alert security or neighbours of activity and these lights have a built in motion detector where you can change the sensitivity to suit the property
Installing these lights on all outside areas, which can be flood light or lantern style, that can either replace the existing light working for the same switched wiring or be an additional new light with its own dedicated wiring and some systems even include sound and they take a photograph, for example, The Guardian ESP Guardcam, photo 1 costing €90.
Pricing varies depending on type; a basic 150w flood light at around €50 including installation.
Another option is to replace the bulbs in the existing lights with dawn till dusk bulbs which come on when it gets dark, cost around €20 per bulb
Adding a lock to the gates on ground floor properties and maybe a small fence at ground level may again help
If you don’t want to get an alarm then realistic dummy alarm boxes and signs can be purchased at around €60 and even include a batter supply for the flashing lights
Outside furniture, which is not stored inside the property should be chained and locked into a simple ring fitted into the wall
Some alarm systems have perimeter protection sensors that will activate if anybody comes into the patio or entrance areas and of course the response stickers, alarm box with operational lights
Inside the Property
There are a few things that can be done inside the property, the most basic one being to give people the impression that the property is occupied, simple timers with table or bedside lights plugged in that are programmed to turn the lights on and off in the evenings and early mornings and only cost €4 each
There are also a couple of pieces of advice to minimise damage if anybody does get into the property, the first is if you have a safe installed leave it empty and open. If you have a lockable cupboard for personal effects or linen leave this unlocked
Make sure that the front door is always double locked and that all internal doors are closed
Do not leave any valuables on open display; remove IPODS from docks, video games or DVD’s from view
Doors Windows Blinds & Shutters
The general quality of the security locks, catches and bolts fitted to the doors and windows in Spain are not manufactured to the same standards as the UK, they do not have metal locking bolts or locking handles and can fairly easily be forced
Fitting additional locks will not stop everybody, what it will do is make it more difficult to break in by strengthening windows and shutters and perhaps making it more attractive to go elsewhere to commit crime
One of the most important things is to check that your doors, windows and shutters are fitting properly, that all of the bolts and plastic retaining clips are in place, shake and push the tops and bottoms of the doors to test this
Starting with all the sliding doors and windows, the catches can easily be forced but there is a simple way to protect these which is with a screw in pin, see photograph on right, which stops any movement of the door and is much stronger than the existing catches which easily break. Photograph on right shows door fitted with pins that could not be opened. The cost is typically €22 each fitted, 2 required on patio doors, one per window
Many people believe that items such as the roller shutters, known as persianas are for security but they are actually designed as a blackout for the sun which is why they are normally only fitted to bedroom windows. What happens is that a robber can force these up from outside. The blinds are stronger because they are aluminium so they could be secured using shutter bolts which fix into the frame and the shutter
On most doors and windows the biggest problem is that the frame bolts, which are designed to lock the doors into the frames, they are made of plastic, so can easily be forced. The best solution is to change the plastic bolts on doors and windows for metal bolts and on shutters add more metal bolts internally. For vulnerable window and doors that open inwards the solution is to incorporate 2 new metal frame bolts, fitted top and bottom.
The typical cost is between €40 - €60 per door or shutter but pricing can only be quoted once the doors have been inspected
There is another simple low cost way to secure the metal shutters on ground floor properties, use a cycle lock running in-between the 2 doors running through the slats, cost €2-€3 per door
If you are concerned about a particular window you can also move furniture to cover a window area
If you add up all of the costs of window bolts, shutter bolts, lights etc and with the cost of a typical professionally installed alarm system starting at €299, it is possibly less expensive to have an alarm fitted because this will certainly put off many of the less sophisticated criminals and just the fact that one exists may deter them and often the sig or bell box will be enough
Liked many things alarms have moved on with technology the latest trend being units that take photographs of the person that has broken into the property, but looking at the typical reported profile of the offenders how likely is it that they are known to The Police?
The most common mistake made is that people will install a system from one of the larger installers with a low purchase price but a 2-3 years monitoring contract, typically €30 - €40 per month, or a non-negotiable annual servicing fee when all that needed is a noise maker
The other issue with some monitored systems is that the main control panel is normally located in the entrance, this panel sends the signal that controls the sirens, smash the panel and you immediately disable the alarm
Most systems will incorporate internal and external sirens, wireless sensors, a control panel and keypad with options of door and window contacts, but a good installer should hide the internal siren. Items that were typically only available for commercial users are now at a price level available to most home owners. You can buy a siren that is so loud that it would be impossible to stay inside the property or strobe lighting.
You may want to avoid systems that are armed by a remote key fob and there is technology around to mirror these.
The most common way of preventing access to the properties in Spain is the fitting of metal grills, you will see them all over Spain and the only way to then get into the property is to put a rope around them and pull them out of the wall
As with all security measures there is always a balance between cost and benefits, on all of my properties I have security grills because their primary use is residential and they are located in urban districts with no security patrols.
Many developments have community rules that do not allow owners to fit these grills as on Roda Golf and the Polaris World sites, owners have even had to remove them after they have been fitted, so you need to first check if they are allowed.
One of the most important things to remember is that these are designed to stop people getting onto the property but you must also ensure that you have multiple ways to get out of the property in an emergency.
For more information on security or to arrange a local security survey please do not hestitate in getting in contact with me.