While figures from the Office for National Statistics may show that the overall robbery rate fell by 12% in 2013, don’t be fooled; the UK still has some of the highest burglary rates in Europe, and has done for many years.
If you’re thinking about improving the security of your home, it’s useful to know just what sort of tactics thieves use when staking out a home and working out which to target.
As the old Chinese saying goes ‘Know your enemy’!
Here are some of the key things burglars look out for and do to gain entry into a home.
What burglars look out for
- Closed curtains – Burglars know this is a common ‘deterrent’ employed by people who are away, so they look out for curtains that are always closed, especially during the day.
- Mail – Burglars will peek through letterboxes to see if mail is piled up. If it is, it’s a sign to them that the occupants might be away.
- Packaging – Many people open the delivery packaging for expensive goods and simply dump it outside for the rubbish workers to pick up: Don’t! It reveals that you have something worth stealing inside.
- Open doors and windows – It may sound obvious, but most burglars will try and ease open windows and doors as a surprising number of people accidentally leave them unlocked; a recent survey by Halifax showed 64% of householders admit they occasionally do.
- Inactive alarms – In the same Halifax survey, 34% of those with alarms said they rarely activated them. Burglars know this, testing out systems by smashing windows or throwing things through a letterbox to see if an alarm goes off.
- Empty drives – If you go away, and usually park your car in the drive, see if you can get a neighbour or friend to park in it while you’re not at home. Empty drives are a red rag to burglars.
- Lights, television sets, radios etc. – The simple tactic of leaving lights on timer switches and other appliances, such as radios and televisions, deters burglars.
- Valuables on display – Most burglaries are opportunistic; the thief simply glances through a window and, if they see something valuable, will smash the window and grab it. Put all valuables out of sight if you go away.
- Dogs – Yep, man’s best friend is something burglars are always wary of. The Halifax study mentioned above showed that hardened burglars in prison said they are put off by one of our barking canine friends.
- Sliding patio doors – Burglars love the old-fashioned style of sliding patio door as these are extremely easy to simply unscrew and lift out of the frame.
- Posing as someone – From checking the meter to being a policeman or asking to use the phone for an ‘emergency’, thieves often pretend to be someone else to gain access to a home, distract the owner, then make off with goods.
- Good rear access – Burglars generally like to get into a home from the rear if possible as they’re less likely to be seen. Ensure you have gates locked, fences and walls as high as possible and in a good state of repair, or with deterrent material on them such as railings with spikes etc.
- Open gates – It may seem like quite simple psychology, but thieves often assume that someone who hasn’t closed their front gate will be more lax about security and their home more easily broken into than someone who shuts theirs.
- Double glazing – Windows with double glazing, especially of the UPVC variety, are much, much harder to break than standard, one glass layer windows and help to put off burglars.
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