It is estimated that a burglary happens around every 40 seconds in the UK. It is also a crime with one of the worst conviction rates. But, it doesn’t mean you’re defenseless or that you can’t do anything to prevent your home from becoming another statistic.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to look at your home the way a burglar does. You’ll discover how burglars pick a house and how we unwittingly make our homes a potential target. You’ll also learn what you can do to prevent this from happening and the simple steps you can take to make your home unappealing to the would-be burglar.
The Opportunistic Burglar
It would be easy to call the opportunistic burglar stupid or basic in their approach. But, in many cases, this kind of burglar has honed their craft into an art form and they are always on the prowl for an easy target.
Unlocked doors and gates, open windows or valuable items on display are the bait that lures in this kind of thief. They’ll test doors to see if they’re unlocked or gain access through open windows. It is also not uncommon for them to press against key-points on locked doors to check if they have been secured properly. In essence, they are looking for any small weakness that will usually allow for fast and quiet access.
But this isn’t limited to your home. This kind of thief will often walk the streets checking car doors and raiding unlocked vehicles for easy to steal items such as sat-navs, phones or wallets.
Recent statistics show that, amazingly, 47% of all burglaries happen in this way. Even more worrying is this kind of burglary can go unnoticed for several days because in many cases the thief doesn’t need to break into your home.
This type of crime is more common in urban than rural areas but we should always be security conscious no matter where we live. Luckily this type of crime is also easy to outsmart.
Often a this can be enough to turn your home from an easy target into one a difficult one, causing the would-be burglar to move on.
Your Letter Box
Forming part of both the planned and opportunistic burglar’s arsenal is a technique known as letterbox fishing. Peering through your letterbox it can be easy to spot the keys to your car or home. Particularly as these can often be left on sideboards, tables or on key hooks close to the front door.
A small fishing pole, rod or even a metal coat hanger is then pushed through the letterbox and used to grab your keys. The thief can then come back at his leisure to steal your car or let themselves into your home.
Windows not only provide a view out but also a view in. Open curtains and blinds make it easy to spot valuable items laying around and get an idea of when your home is occupied or empty. This is particularly true during the winter when the afternoons get dark early. An illuminated room with the curtains open makes it easy to quickly tally a list of your most valuable possessions.
Windows also provide another clue to how security adept you are. Keys left in window locks often mean you’ll have other keys around such as in patio or back doors. This provides the burglar with 2 opportunities.
- The first is easy escape routes because they can open doors and windows to make a quick exit.
- The second is that, after gaining entry, they can grab these keys and come back later. Allowing them access anytime at their leisure.
You Garden Provides A Makeshift Burglary ToolBox
There’s a common misconception that burglars walk around with lock picks or other specialist tools to gain entry. But this is a potentially sticky situation for a thief. The reason is because any burglars with previous convictions could fall foul of Section 25 of The Theft Act if caught by the Police.
This act allows Police officers to use their judgment when catching anyone with lock-picking gear or other dubious tools. In short, this means anyone with previous convictions that is caught with such items could be arrested and ultimately awarded with a stretch inside!
Instead, burglars look to us to provide them with a burglary toolbox. Unlocked sheds can often provide all the tools required to gain entry. Not to mention all of the items we regularly have in our gardens. For example, ladders left by the house can provide easy access to open upstairs windows or a spade in the vegetable patch can be used to pry open doors and windows.
There Are No (Or Faulty) Deterrents
We all know that burglar alarms are one of the most visible forms of a deterrent. But if yours is aging, rusty and doesn’t look in good working order its a sign your home might not have a working alarm at all. And the discouraging effect it once had is lost.
But, this isn’t just limited to burglar alarms. Floodlights controlled by sensors need to be in good working order to remain an effective deterrent.
Savvy burglars can even test if these are working during the day. A quick wave of the hand over the sensor should result in a clicking noise. If there is none there’s a good chance its switched off or no longer works. This provides the perfect opportunity for the burglar to return under the cover of darkness without the fear of being seen.
The pitfalls of advertising your holiday plans on social media are well-known. What’s more surprising is that people still do this. The urge to place that one selfie of ‘us leaving the UK’ as the plane departs the airport or as you sit by the pool in your Spanish resort it the perfect invitation for a burglar.
It shows your home is empty and the burglar has little chance of being disturbed as they break-in. The savvy thief can also check your social media profiles for posts that show pictures of your home’s interior. All of this information can be used by the burglar to figure when your home is empty and if it contains any goods worth stealing.
Identify theft is often seen as something of a hi-tech problem and the result of being ‘hacked’. However, this type of crime has its origins in something a lot more humble and distinctly low-tech: your bin.
If not shredded everyday items such as utility bills can be used to clone our identities. Even worse are bank statements that provide not just our full name and address but often our full bank details such as sort code and account number.
The contents of our bins, or more precisely what we leave beside our bins, can also reveal what valuables we’re likely to have in our home. The boxes from new tablets, PCs and TVs that we can’t always be bothered to crush and place in our recycling bins are easy to spot by anyone simply walking past your home.
So, Can We Stop Burglars Picking Our House?
Yes, we can. As you’ve read this article we hope you’ve seen just how some simple actions can really dissuade a burglar from picking your home. The more you do to protect your home the more you’ll encourage them to move on elsewhere.
This is particularly important since, according to a recent article by the Guardian, around 95% of burglaries are never solved. So, when it comes to uncovering how burglars pick a house it is easy to see that prevention really is better than a (currently non-existent) cure.