Discovering a burglary in your home can be one of the most upsetting things to happen to you. Knowing a burglar has been in your home and rummaging through your things while you’ve been out feels like they’ve invaded your private space.
Long gone are the days of trusting that you can leave the doors unlocked. Securing your home now has to be part of an evening routine, whenever you leave the house, or when you’re home alone.
If you want to keep your home secure, think like a burglar. Have you lost your keys or left them at work and broken into your own home? How easy was it? Imagine how easy it would be for an experienced burglar. Have a look around your home and see what burglary risks you have. Do you leave windows open when you’re out?
The police have lots of tips you can use to keep you and your home safe. Here’s some of them:
- Lock ALL your doors and windows at night, if you’re going out, if you’re in the garden or if you’re home alone. Make sure all your locks and handles are strong. Upgrade them if they’re loose or need repair and install deadlocks if possible.
- Install sensor lights on access paths or around your main external doors.
- Install a “peep-hole” in a front door so you know who’s visiting.
- Ask any unannounced visitors who they are and what they want. Ask them to go somewhere (outside a closed window) where you can see them and their ID. If you’re not happy with their answers or their ID, don’t open the door.
- Don’t leave your keys under the front door mat or obvious hiding place. Again, think like a burglar – where would you look for keys?
- Separate your house keys from your vehicle keys – you don’t want the burglar using your vehicle to load up with your possessions and have the double-whammy of a car theft as well.
- Keep tools and ladders inside, or secured in a locked shed or garage. Burglars travel light, so they’ll look for useful tools on the property. Hammers, screwdrivers, crowbars etc. are exactly the kind of thing a burglar needs for an easy break-in, so keep your tools secure. Don’t leave a ladder leaning up against the house or readily available outside.
- Balance your privacy with security. Keep bushes and hedges trimmed back so there’s nowhere for a burglar to hide, especially close to windows and doors near the house.
- Keep a record of the serial numbers of valuable property and take photos of it. You can engrave property with an identifying number such as your driver licence number if it doesn’t already have a serial number.
- Keep valuables out of sight, especially away from windows.
- If you’ve recently bought a valuable item, destroy the packaging or hide it in the rubbish/recycling. Burglars will notice these things.
- If you’ve been burgled recently, double your security efforts. Burglars know you’ll replace stolen items with new, and might try again.
- Don’t leave a message on your answer phone that suggests you’re out or alone.
- If you live alone, especially as a woman, don’t use your first name in the telephone directory. Use initials.
- If you’re going away for a while, tell a trusted neighbour so they can keep an eye on the place. Tell them to call 111 if they see anything suspicious and give them a contact number for you. Get them to clear your mailbox daily or get the post office and newspaper office to hold your deliveries until you get back.
- Set up or join a Neighbourhood Support Group in your area and display Neighbourhood Support signs and stickers. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbours and develop plans to deal with problems or suspicious activity. Exchanging phone numbers or emergency contact details is a good start.
- Police are always interested in any suspicious activity. Don’t hesitate to call the police to report something out of the ordinary and, if you see a crime being committed, call 111 immediately.
Why your place?
Information from the police and Neighbourhood Support suggests burglars like properties:
- Where it looks like no-one’s home – lights aren’t on at night, curtains are drawn during the day, and mail and newspapers are building up in the letterbox.
- Where a window or door is left open or unsecured.
- Where people can’t see what they’re doing from the street – trees and shrubs might block the view.
- That have alleyways running beside them or back onto parks, reserves or green belts.
- Where valuable items are left outside overnight, such as a bike. Where the garage door is open, they can see your car isn’t there and there’s something valuable inside, such as a lawnmower or chainsaw.
- They’ve been to before, knowing the layout, what’s in them and how to get out.
- They’ve burgled before, so they’ll try again when valuables have been replaced with new items.
Burglars don’t like:
- Houses with alarms
- Neighbours who support each other, talk to each other and take an interest in what’s going on around them, particularly people they don’t know or haven’t seen before.
- Neighbours who report suspicious activity to police and are able to give good descriptions of who and what they’ve seen.
- A vehicle in the driveway.
- Lights, TV or radio on.
- People who mark valuable property with serial numbers and keep a record of those numbers.
Remember if you see anything suspicious, call the police on 111.