Experts at the charity Crimestoppers are predicting a boom in burglaries as lockdown ends. With many people set to return to the office, and our social lives resuming on evenings and weekends, are our homes about to become a potential target for thieves?
Lockdown luxuries enticing for burglars
There are fears thieves could make up for lost ‘income’ this year after burglary rates fell during 2020*.
You may have splashed out on some luxury items – such as gym equipment, garden accessories or new tablets and televisions – to help make your time at home more enjoyable. But as we ease out of lockdown, this might make many homes even more appealing for break-ins.
So, what can you do to make sure your property is as secure as possible and less likely to be burgled?
Security starts outside
Protecting your home doesn’t just begin with locking your front door. The outside of your property and the surrounding perimeter are also highly important.
Tools, ladders and anything that could be useful for breaking into a home should be locked safely away. Don’t make it easy – high fences and walls, thorny hedges, and lockable front gates are all good deterrents to stop unwanted visitors from entering the grounds of your property.
Garages and sheds should have strong locks on windows and access doors – preferably those labelled as meeting the British Standard BS3621 criteria, the industry benchmark for quality products.
Alarms and CCTV
Alarm systems not only help to deter burglars, but they can also help lower your home insurance premiums – a win-win for most householders.
Top-end systems usually require a monthly fee and come with 24-hour monitoring and automatic police notification.
CCTV is also an effective deterrent, as it’s unlikely thieves will risk getting caught on camera.
Locks on windows and doors
Burglars are known to look for doors and windows with poor locking systems. At a minimum, external-facing doors should have a mortice deadlock. Burglars love doors which only have night latches as they offer relatively little resistance to force.
Good quality locks are crucial to home security, so it’s a good idea to get a locksmith around if you’re not sure what’s best for your home. As referred to above, you should have locks fitted that ideally are British Standard BS3621.
Keep valuables out of sight
Many burglaries are opportunistic. By keeping as many valuables out of sight as possible, you reduce the potential of your home becoming a target.
House and car keys
Keeping your house and car keys within reaching distance might be convenient, but it also provides opportunity. Many break-ins happen when thieves fish for keys through letterboxes – so ideally keep your keys out of sight and take them upstairs with you at night. It’s worth remembering that some insurers will not pay out if there is no sign of forced entry.
Motion sensor lights
Lights that come on when movement is detected are reasonably priced. These can be especially effective outside, helping to put burglars off before they’ve even tried to get in.
Devices which automatically turn on radios, TVs and lights aren’t very expensive and help create the illusion someone is at home when they’re not. Thieves are less likely to force entry if they know someone is home and awake.
Planning to be away?
If you are going away for a few days, it’s a good idea to cancel newspaper and milk subscriptions on those dates. A tell-tale sign no one is home is a pile of deliveries lying at the front door.
If you usually have a car in your driveway, ask one of your friends or neighbours if they can park in your driveway while you’re away.
If your trip is going to last a little longer, have someone you trust pop in to open/close the curtains and potentially cut the grass, all of which help maintain the idea that someone is still home.
Even if you’re only popping out for a few minutes, make sure all windows and doors are securely closed – it’s so easy to forget, especially during summer.
And, last but not least, although it’s tempting to share pictures of your travels – avoid advertising on social media that your property is left unoccupied. Wait until your home before you post.