As previously highlighted - UK Police forces, security professionals and local authorities are warning people that the cost of living crisis will inevitably result in increased crime. As people find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet they look for ways to reduce their expenses and possibly make some cash.
An example that’s been seen throughout the UK is a massive surge in garage forecourt fuel theft, prompted by the dramatic increase in costs. Sadly, petrol station employees can find themselves facing difficult and sometimes violent encounters.
And while burglary incidents have declined through the COVID pandemic it’s anticipated that acquisitional crime will increase due to the cost-of-living crisis. People are advised to take precautions and be vigilant to avoid being targeted by criminals.
What Burglars are Looking For
Most burglaries are opportunist crimes, committed with very little preparation. Its very common for burglars to target properties which are within a short distance of where they live and they will sometimes return to previously burgled properties.
Police forces warn that most successful burglaries occur as a result of poor home security. And its important to be aware that insurance companies may not pay compensation if burglars were able to easily enter a home without forced entry, perhaps due to unlocked doors or windows.
Images and information shared on social media can provide criminals with the insight they need to successfully burgle your home. This is why its important to never share details of a forthcoming holiday or period during which your home will be unoccupied. An empty home is an invitation to a burglar who knows they won’t run into the occupants when they get inside.
It’s also wise not to share details or images of what’s in your home as these can motivate criminals who recognise something of value. So if you have received a wonderful new watch from your partner, or maybe a lovely piece of jewellery - keep it to yourself. Similarly, don’t share images or any information about your home electronics such as your TV sets, AI assistants or computers. And criminals can be motivated to commit burglary to acquire certain prescription drugs if they know these are on the premises, so its important not to publicise this information.
Take care over what you leave outside and what you put in your garbage. Empty boxes tell criminals that the items they contained are now inside the home. So if they see a massive flat-screen TV box outside by your bins they will know there is a nice new TV inside.
Criminals are known to search through people’s rubbish in search of personal information. Identity fraud is a growing crime that enables fraudsters to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, loans and even state benefits - in the victim’s name. They can also potentially gain access and take over someone’s existing financial accounts. Its therefore vital that any documents containing personal information should be shredded before they go in the bin. And be aware that personal documents should be considered as ‘valuables’ in the home and should ideally be securely locked away.
It’s also important not to leave anything outside that burglars can use to break in. Most burglars don’t carry equipment or tools, they rely on what they can find in gardens and sheds. Criminals are on the lookout for homes that leave ladders and garden tools outside as these can be used to gain access to homes and outbuildings. Wheelie bins, for example, have been used by house-breakers to quickly access open upper storey windows.
Practical Home Security Recommendations
As noted, most successful burglaries take place as a result of a security failing or oversight. Leaving an upstairs window open when popping to the shops can be enough for criminals to easily break in, rifle through the home’s contents and make off with various valuables including car keys, passports and more.
Its therefore recommended that you take a good look at your home security NOW - and take additional precautions to remain safe. Here are the key aspects of your home security you need to review.
Secure Doors and Windows
Most burglars gain access to properties via the doors and windows making it essential these are robustly secured.
Take a look at all the doors in windows around your home as well as any outbuildings (garages, sheds). Make certain they are all in a good state of repair and importantly, ensure they are all securely locked at all times. All keys should be stored in a safe location - not simply hung on a hook that can be seen from a window.
Review Your Perimeter Security
Remember that home security starts are the perimeter of your property. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, make certain your fences, hedges and walls are all in a good state of repair. Similarly, make certain your gates are closed and ideally locked. Another important aspect of your outdoor areas is not providing cover that would allow criminals to break in without being seen. Try to identify obscured areas and take steps to improve visibility.
Don’t Leave Anything Outside
As noted, criminals will often use whatever they can find to commit their crimes. For example, a garden spade or fork can potentially be used as a crowbar to prize open a shed or garage door.
Its also important to consider the value of what’s in your garden, such as furniture, statues and planting. Thieves will take anything they know they can sell - including your garden ornaments and plants. Burglars have even been known to steal hanging baskets to order.
Join or Form a Neighbourhood Watch
Neighbourhood watch schemes are known to have successfully reduced incidents of crime in many areas. If there is a neighbourhood watch group in your area why not join. And if there isn’t one, maybe it would be worth forming a group.
Make it Look Like Your Property is Occupied
Homes are particularly vulnerable when people go on holiday. But most burglaries take only minutes so even a short time away from home can be enough for criminals to take advantage.
Burglars are known to avoid homes if they think there is the chance they will run into the occupier so making it look like there is always someone at home is a good idea. This can be achieved by putting lights and other devices (TVs, radios etc.) on timers to switch on and off. And if you are going away on holiday, consider asking a neighbour to pop round to open and close the curtains.
Install Motion Activated Security Lighting
As noted, burglars don’t like the possibility they will be seen so installing motion triggered lighting is a powerful deterrent. Its also great for safety after dark.
Install an Alarm System
Protecting your home with a burglar alarm system is another effective precaution. If a burglar had the choice between targeting a home with an alarm and another without an alarm - they will always go for the non-alarmed property.
When using an alarm system with a keypad for code entry, its important to keep the keypad clean as greasy finger marks can potentially reveal the keycode numerals.
Security Mark Your Valuables
Security marking involves applying labels, either visible or invisible, that identify property as yours. If items are stolen these help the police return items if they are ever recovered. But perhaps more importantly, security marking property acts as a powerful deterrent. Burglars are far less likely to be interested in your valuables if they know they are indelibly labelled. So presenting notices in windows telling would-be thieves that all items are security labelled can be enough to put them off.
Lock all Valuable Documents in a Safe
Identity theft is potentially one of the most impactful crimes. If a criminal gains access to your home your personal documentation such as passports, bank and credit card statements, will potentially of most value to them.
Ideally, all personal documentation should be securely locked away in a safe. But its important to remember that criminals will potentially steal the whole safe so that they can take it to a safe location where they can work at opening the lock. For this reason your home safe should be secured to an immovable anchor. And its also important to be aware the many of today’s safes with electronic locks can be opened with nothing more than a powerful magnet. For this reason, simpler, tried and tested mechanical locking safes are often the best option.