Burglary is a serious issue in the UK and it can be both financially costly and emotionally devastating for victims and their families.
The Metropolitan Police have recently revived Operation Bumblebee and in an attempt to reduce the number of break-ins they are advising the public to “think like a burglar”.
Burglary can have a long-lasting emotional impact on victims, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. However, by taking just a few simple measures outlined in this blog post you can reduce the chances of it happening to you.
Why might your home be targeted?
Most burglaries tend to be opportunistic, rather than planned. Burglars usually choose houses that have little or no visible security. So if your home does not look secure, seems unlived in, or provides unobserved access, it could be at risk. Understanding what burglars look for when choosing their target will help you identify weak spots in your home’s security.
What makes your home attractive to burglars?
A high front boundary
Solution: Make sure your front wall is no more than one metre high, so a burglar could be seen from the street.
Low side and rear boundaries
Solution: Make your side and driveway gates the same height as the boundaries around them.
Wheelie bins accessible
Solution: Store wheelie bins or other potential climbing aids behind locked gates, so burglars can’t climb up on them.
No visible intruder alarm
Solution: Alarms are undoubtedly the most effective deterrent against burglary. To maximise the deterrent, place external active burglar alarm bell boxes (with flashing lights and sounders) at the front and back of the property. Police recommend an installer who is affiliated to an inspectorate, either the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security System and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). Be aware that DIY alarms will not necessarily receive a police response.
No security lighting
Solution: Exterior lights will make it more difficult for burglars to stay undetected when they’re trying to break in. Make sure they’re designed to be tamper-proof or at least positioned where it’s difficult for intruders to reach them. As a further deterrent, you can also leave interior lights switched on or use timer switches to make it look as if you’re at home – even when you’re out.
Valuables on display
Solution: Remove valuable items from easy to grab areas such as windows and near external doors. Marking or etching your postcode and house number on items that are particularly valuable is a good deterrent to thieves because they know these items are more easily traced by the police, and it reduces their ability to sell these items on. The Police can talk you through the best way to mark specific items, whether that’s indelible pen or with one of the proprietary chemically-coded systems now available. Additionally, if marked your property can be traced, identified and returned to you. Items with a unique serial number can be registered for free at immobilise.com – the UK National Property Register. Registration increases the chance of having your property returned. In fact, over
900 people every month are contacted about recovered items.
Open or unsecured windows
Solution: On the ground floor and for other windows that are easily accessible, key operated locks are essential. Window handles should be multi-locking, with shoot bolts into the frame. Extra security can be added to externally beaded windows with security clips, security tape or sealant. Louvre window panes must be secured to prevent them being removed, or consider replacing them with a solid glass panel.
Unsecured garage door
Solution: For garages with metal ‘up and over’ doors, purpose made locks can be fitted to either side, about 300mm up from the floor, to reduce leverage. Wooden garage double doors can be secured with two substantial hasps and staples and closed shackle padlocks. An external floor mounted, solid steel locking ‘T’ bar with a closed shackle padlock, will offer a good visual deterrent and make it more difficult to open the door. Garage side and rear
doors can be secured with BS3621 5-lever mortice locks and two internal mortice rack bolts, one near the top and one near the bottom.
Solution: Thieves are attracted to garden sheds because they contain many every day, unmarked items that are easy to sell, and they’re often left unlocked or unsecured. Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked and maybe put thorny plants nearby. Ensure your insurance covers theft from sheds and gardens. If you don’t have a shed, wrap a heavy padlock around tools and secure to an anchor device.
Paved path or driveway
Solution: Gravel driveways and paths make a silent approach more difficult.
What to do before you leave your home.
When you leave your home it’s important to ensure you leave it as secure as possible. Getting into an ‘exit routine’ can help ensure that you don’t forget obvious, but important things, like not leaving your valuables near windows. Here’s our quick check list to keep in mind:
- Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.
- Set your burglar alarm.
- Make sure the side and/or back gate is locked.
- Lock your shed or garage.
- Make sure that any valuables are not in sight.
- Put keys out of reach of letterboxes.
- In the evening, shut the curtains and leave some lights on.
- Never leave car documents or ID in obvious places such as kitchens or hallways.
If you are going to be away for days or weeks at a time, you will need to take additional action, such as cancelling newspaper and milk deliveries. Consider asking your neighbours to close curtains, or park on your drive. Use a timer device to automatically turn lights and a radio/TV on at night.
For more burglary prevention advice check out the Metropolitan Police’s ‘virtual house’, which is a tour designed to advise you on areas that may be vulnerable in your home, or check out their full advice on burglary prevention.
If you would like the reassurance of a professional, please feel free to contact me for a free household security survey. I’m just one of four locksmiths operating in West Yorkshire that is approved and vetted by the United Kingdom Locksmith’s Association (UKLA), and I’m also one of only a few local locksmiths approved by the Local Police Authority. Give me a call on 07711 294 248 and keep safe.