Recent crime figures show that only a small proportion of break-ins are ever solved.
In many areas of the country – including neighbourhoods in Manchester, Leicester, Bristol, North London, Cambridge, Oxford and Canterbury – police failed to solve a single domestic burglary last year.
So who better to turn to for advice when it comes to securing your property than those who have previously made a living out of breaking in?
We’ve taken the hard work out of protecting your premises by rounding up top tips from ex criminals with a conscience so you can ensure you’re security-savvy.
Lock it up
This may seem like obvious advice but your property can still be at risk even if you think you’ve secured it. Don’t leave spare keys in accessible places such as on a hook by the front door. Fit a small wire cage over the letterbox on the inside of your front door to counter any attempts to fish for any door or car keys left nearby. Never leave any windows open – not even just a crack for ventilation. A first-floor bathroom window is the one most likely to be left open and this is the most likely entry point for a burglar. Go one step further and after locking it block the window track to prevent anyone pushing their way in.
Secure rear gates
Many end-of-terrace properties have an alleyway to the side of the house. This is often seen as a bonus by homeowners as it means garden waste and other rubbish doesn’t have to be trailed through the house. However, this access point does make homeowners more vulnerable to break-ins than neighbours with no rear access to their gardens. Make sure rear gates are bolted with solid fixings and a strong padlock. That way, a potential intruder would have to risk drawing attention to themselves or even injury to get over the fence.
Don’t leave out garden tools
Don’t leave garden tools propped up against fences and walls – you are offering thieves a helping hand to prise open a door or window. Keep garden tools and ladders discretely locked away in a shed and keep hosepipes and washing lines neatly stored. A well-kept garden signals that you care about your property and are therefore more likely to have valuables under lock and key, which is a huge deterrent.
Keep greenery tidy
Leafy bushes provide a perfect hiding place for would-be trespassers so keep them cut back and short. Ensure any green space is well maintained so that it’s clear the property is regularly accessed and be careful not to obstruct any surveillance equipment with overhanging branches.
Keep your calendar out of view
A family calendar on clear view through a window is a burglar’s best friend. It immediately tells them when you are going to be at home and, more importantly, away. Even if you think the writing is small and hard to read a determined housebreaker could zoom in and take a photo on their phone and then enlarge it so they can read it properly.
Think carefully about warning signs
Displaying a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign in the window or on the gate is not advisable if you don’t have a pet. Some criminals may even be encouraged by this, assuming if you have a pet roaming around then you are less likely to have set an alarm as it would trigger the motion sensors.
Protect your valuables
Go one step further than a sock drawer, cereal box or chest freezer as these are the most obvious places for burglars to look. Keep valuables locked in a safe or, better still, remove them from the property entirely and keep them secure in a safety deposit box away from the premises. Attics and loft spaces are also rarely accessed by intruders as they are places they could become trapped in, so store large valuables up high. It may sound obvious but don’t leave electronic devices on tables and surfaces which are in clear view from any window.
Outside lighting is one of the best deterrents against intruders. Motion sensor lights, which are triggered by sound or movement, will cast a spotlight on unwanted visitors. Putting indoor lights on timers, if you know you’re going to be away from the property, is also a good idea. Think about investing in gravel pathways so people approaching can easily be heard.
Think about installing a property security system. There are many options available to meet your precise requirements and budget including home systems, 24 hour monitored alarms, as well as boarding up screens and manned security guard services if you own commercial premises.
If you have an alarm make sure the box outside is kept clean and serviced regularly. If it malfunctions frequently then neighbours are less likely to pay attention if it goes off for real.
Keep the keypad inside clean – dirty fingerprints on your passcode numbers are a giveaway for anyone trying to turn off the system.
Would be burglars go for the easy opportunity. So don’t make it easy for them. Smart home and vehicle systems can offer you protection. In a survey of 12 ex-convicts conducted on behalf of Co-op Home Insurance 89% of panellists said they would avoid smart homes and 67% found connected cars a turn-off.
Show restraint when it comes to broadcasting your movements on social media. Holiday pictures, photographs from days out and ‘check-ins’ miles away from home means you’re opening your empty home up to possible intrusion. Some burglars specifically target those on holiday so wait until you’re back to post your memories.
CCTV cameras are the single biggest turn-off for thieves the same survey for Co-op revealed. But despite this less than 14% of UK adults have CCTV cameras installed in their home. With live video monitoring and remote access systems available why would you risk not having one? Furthermore, if you are a target for burglars your CCTV system could capture valuable evidence.
Ex bank robber turned journalist Noel ‘Razor’ Smith says strong, heavy doors and fencing present an immediate inconvenience to intruders and are signs of a high-security home so will likely put them off.
One-time housebreaker turned security consultant Michael Fraser, host of TV’s Beat the Burglar and Catch a Thief, now earns his living visiting homes and businesses offering advice on how to keep them secure from thieves.
He advises caution if you are advertising a property online. This gives a burglar open access to everything inside and to routes in and out of the property so be extra aware and put effective security measures in place.
If you need help and advice securing your property, the team at SafeSite Security Solutions have over 25 years specialist security experience between them and provide tailored security solutions for commercial premises and private homes. Contact us today for a free property assessment.