The idea of a stranger coming into your house and rummaging through your belongings is unnerving to say the least. Sadly, burglaries are still all too common in the UK. Figures from the Office for National Statistics found that in England between July 2015 and June 2016 the number of recorded burglaries was 398,4061.
Whether it’s a petty theft or a well organised raid, burglars have one thing in common – they know how to spot an opportunity and use it to their advantage. Here, we show you how to tap into the mentality of a burglar so that you can use their wisdom (!) to keep your house safe and to prevent a real burglary from happening…
They look online
One of the easiest and more modern ways for a burglar to know which properties to target is to look online at people’s social media accounts. It’s a no-brainer for them, especially if you don’t have strong privacy settings, to reveal where you live and tell everyone when you’re heading off on holiday. Make it unlikely for opportunistic thieves to know your whereabouts by restricting your social media to friends only and avoiding the urge to over-share your every move.
They look for keys
Many of us think nothing of hiding the front door key under a mat or plant pot, but this just makes a burglar’s life easier. Avoid hiding spare keys near your property. Instead, ask a trustworthy neighbour to keep the key. Plus, ensure you always lock the dead bolt – as doors without them are easier to force open.
They look for mail
Regardless of whether you have a CCTV system or security lighting outside your home, a sure-fire way for a burglar to know if a property is empty is if your mailbox or doormat is overflowing with unopened letters. If you’re going away, ask a friend or neighbour to collect your mail for you and to store it safely inside, away from prying eyes. Alternatively, Royal Mail provide a Keepsafe service and, for a charge, can hold your mail until you get home.
They pose as other people
One way for professional burglars to enter homes is to pretend to be someone else, such as a policeman, delivery person or a utility company employee. If someone knocks at your door, and you’re not expecting them, make sure you ask them for valid ID before letting them into your home. If in doubt, contact the company they claim to represent direct to see if they’ve sent someone round. A word of caution: go online to get the central number, don’t use the number given by the person at the door.
They look for ways inside
Burglars love garden furniture. A table or a chair outside the back door offers an easy way into open windows. Likewise, if you leave a garden ladder lying outside it will take them seconds to prop it up against a wall and climb up into an open first-floor window. Be vigilant: if you’re away from your home for a day or more, store away all outdoor furniture and ladders.
They look in obvious places
Once inside your home, a burglar won’t hang about. They’ll often target the most obvious rooms – like the master bedroom to look for jewellery and valuables, and the living room for TVs and gadgets. While we wouldn’t suggest locking away your TV every time you leave the house, it is a good idea to store smaller valuables like jewellery in a home safe, or hide them somewhere completely unexpected, like in a cereal box in the kitchen.
They target specific areas
Not every location in the UK is a hotspot for burglars, some areas are targeted more frequently than others. This Crime Statistics postcode finder is a useful tool if you’re thinking of buying a property and want to check how active burglars are in a specific area. Even if you’re not moving, it’s worth checking to see if your street is prone to burglaries. If so, it might encourage you to up your home security.
In the unfortunate event that your property is targeted by thieves, it is good to have a robust home insurance policy in place. Together Mutual's Buildings and Contents Insurance can offer you this peace of mind. We will give you a personal claims advisor to support you, we’ll quickly make your home secure, and replace stolen and damaged items.