Recent reports in the mainstream media have highlighted worrying trends in the methods used by burglars to break into our homes. Data from Statista shows there were more than 267,000 burglaries in England and Wales last year alone and criminals are becoming increasingly innovative in the techniques they use.
Blowtorching Doors and Removing Roof Tiles
Reports have been shared of burglars using blowtorches to damage door locks before snapping them off. Once snapped, standard door locks are no longer secure. Homeowners are being urged to invest in snap resistant locks to stop the break ins happening so easily.
Another increasingly common break-in technique used by criminals is to lift some tiles from a property roof and cut a hole in the underlying material to gain access to the loft space. Garden sheds are also sometimes broken into by lifting the roof.
Windows also provide a common access route for house breakers, but they don’t break the glass. They will remove the beading that holds the glass in place and squeeze through can sometimes be very narrow bathroom windows.
Experienced burglars, who have changed careers to become security advisors, recommend that main doors should all have two locks - which are always secured when the doors are closed. Burglars are known to ‘test’ the security of doors by leaning on them enough to determine whether just one lock is used.
Never Offer Virtual Tours When Selling a Property
Estate agents will often create virtual tours showing both the exterior and interior of properties they are selling. But these provide criminals with valuable insight. House breakers can see whether an alarm system is in place, what the property layout is and can often spot attractive valuables they would like to steal.
Don’t Provide What the Burglars Need
Burglars don’t tend to wander around equipped with ladders and housebreaking tools. What they do is lookout for what they need in people’s back yards and gardens. For example, leaving ladders outside may be just what a house-breaker needs to reach an upper storey window in either your property or your neighbours. Another technique is to use wheelie bins as a platform to access entry points.
Its important not to leave items outside that can be seen and potentially used to break in.
Strengthen Your Perimeter Security
When assessing and reviewing your existing home security its useful to remember that security is multi-layered and your property perimeter often forms the outermost layer. A secure perimeter immediately makes a property far less attractive to would-be intruders.
Security lighting, triggered by motion, is a highly effective deterrent. Combine this with a noisy gravel drive and security cameras to bolster your home security.
Its also important to be aware that house breakers like to work unseen. So it can be useful to keep hedging low and importantly, identify blind spots that might be exploited and take steps to protect them.
Be Cautious Online
People are increasingly being targeted by criminals as a result of what they share online, via social media.
Announcing holiday plans to friends, online, can provide criminals with valuable intelligence. Although you might trust your friends they can inadvertently let others know that your property will be empty and when.
And if you also share images of your property interior, showing what you own, this will provide criminals with even more reason to burgle your property while you are away.
What You Can Do
Luckily, there are many practical steps we can all take to make ourselves and our homes more secure. UK Police forces provide some excellent guidance like this Home Security Guide from Thames Valley Police.
Here’s a summary of the key recommendations:
- Think like a burglar
- Identify all areas of weakness around your property
- Bolster your perimeter security
- Deal with blind spots around your property
- Use thorny planting to discourage intruders
- Ensure all door locks and hinges are high quality and secure
- Always double lock all doors
- Use a letterbox defender or restrictor
- Ensure all windows are always closed and locked when away from home
- Install security lighting
- Install a burglar alarm
- Install a CCTV system
- Make certain outbuildings (sheds, garages etc.) are secure
- Secure valuable tools inside locked steel containers inside sheds or garages
- Secure bicycles, motorcycles and other valuables, inside sheds and garages by locking them to immovable anchors
- Make certain all padlocks and other locks are high-security
- Install a safe in a secure location and make certain all valuables are locked inside
- Use forensic property marking to label all valuables with your details
- Review your insurance to make certain you have the required cover and take pictures of your valuables to verify ownership (but don’t share these images online).