A burglary in your home can have profound financial and psychological effects for the victims.
Your home is your castle, so when a stranger violates your privacy and steals valuable items, including perhaps irreplaceable personal belongings with sentimental value, and maybe causing damage to your property while they’re at it, it’s a difficult event to move on from – even if you have home insurance.
Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s worth doing whatever you can to secure your home against a potential intruder attack. But before you rush out to buy the latest home security tech, take a moment to stop and think – think like a thief, to be exact.
The best way to protect your home against crime is to enter the mindset of a professional burglar. It will help you understand how your property might be at risk, and then take appropriate preventative action.
Most break-ins are premeditated
Contrary to popular belief, very few burglaries are the result of opportunistic actions. Acting on impulse can draw attention, leave evidence and increase the risk of being caught, which is why seasoned criminals prefer to devise a careful plan before they strike.
Burglars are always on the lookout for suitable properties to target. They will be regularly scanning and analysing residential areas for future opportunities, picking up cues of vulnerable properties while they’re out and about.
Isolated houses, empty homes, properties behind dense hedges or high fences, or end-of-terrace houses are more at risk, since the likelihood of being spotted is lower here.
Have you ever answered the door to someone who claims that they’ve lost their dog, are looking for directions, want you to take part in a survey, give you a quote for some gardening work, or are offering goods for sale on the doorstep? Be vigilant, it’s just possible that this person is ‘casing the joint’.
But don’t make it too easy
It goes without saying that basic security precautions should always be taken when you leave your home unattended – that’s just common sense. Before you go out, or indeed retire for the night, double-check that all external doors – and that includes the garage door – and windows are closed and securely locked.
Many times a homeowner has returned from a trip to the shops only to find that a burglar took advantage of a window carelessly left open in the downstairs WC, or a patio door that wasn’t locked.
If your windows are fitted with locks, make sure they are used. The same goes for intruder alarms. The best home security in the world will be of no use whatsoever if you forget to activate the system before you leave the house!
Of course, upgrading your home security is always a good option, and there’s certainly no shortage of advanced smart solutions that give you the peace of mind you desire.
What’s more, while in years gone by extensive and intrusive cabling would have been required to wire up your home for motion sensors and cameras, nowadays it’s all done via WiFi, Bluetooth and an app on your smartphone. It won’t be much longer and we will have security drones patrolling our homes from the air!
It’s the little things
You may think that thieves are after high value items like TVs, desktop computers or antique furniture, but in the real world these things are heavy and awkward to move.
Conversely, anything that’s easy to pick up and pocket is highly attractive. This includes jewellery and passports, handbags, wallets and mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Perhaps even car keys, if the vehicle is handily parked outside….
Smaller items are quick to turn into cash via pre-arranged middlemen who may sell on the ‘hot’ goods at boot fairs, on online sites in other geographical areas or through no-questions-asked pawn shops.
And before you think that ‘Find my iPhone’ (iOs) or ‘Find Device’ (Android) tracking software will help you get your smartphone back, take a reality check. The burglar won’t waste any time in switching off any pilfered devices and factory reset them without delay.
If you leave your curtains or blinds open during the day, make sure you don’t leave valuables where they can be seen. This goes for the iPad on the coffee table as much as the games console next to the TV or the wallet and phone on the side table.
Your home will become a much more desirable target if you openly advertise the presence of these items. Close curtains and blinds when you go out so prying eyes can’t peer in!
Kitchens, bathrooms and kids’ rooms
Research has shown that burglars tend to follow the same pattern once inside an unoccupied property. Starting from the furthest point from where they gained entry, they work swiftly, systematically and thoroughly to cover each room, retracing their steps back towards the entrance.
Most burglaries happen very fast – thieves won’t want to spend any longer than necessary in your home. They’ll move through the house checking drawers and cupboards for valuables, using known insights of where people normally hide valuable items. Forget about the underwear drawer to put your jewellery box – it’ll be the first place they’ll look.
Interestingly, kitchens, utility rooms
Kids’ rooms used to enjoy a sort of misplaced moral exemption, with many burglars designating these as ‘no go’ areas. In recent years, however, children’s rooms have become awash with gadgets and devices that are hard for burglars to resist.
Deterring entry is your best bet
If you want to make your home less of a target, there are some useful practical steps we can all take to deter a would-be burglar from having a go. These measures don’t have to be expensive though there is no shortage of sophisticated solutions you can buy that will provide effective round-the-clock protection.
Make your house seem occupied with light timers and sounds to fake occupancy. Get a neighbour to come round and check the property regularly while you’re away on business or holiday, or ask someone to housesit. Had you thought of getting a dog? It’s one of the most effective burglar deterrents.
Use motion sensor activated outdoor lights along with noisy gravel on driveways that will announce the arrival of a visitor, especially useful if your home is located in a remote area or hidden behind hedges or fences.
Enhance your home security with an intruder alarm and CCTV cameras both inside and out, and view real-time activity or recorded footage from your smartphone. If there’s one thing a burglar hates it’s to be detected.