A very high percentage of burglaries are what might be termed “opportunist crimes”.
That means essentially that the burglars have seen what may be a very short-term and easy opportunity, such as a window left open, and then strike on impulse. Burglaries that involve extensive attempts to penetrate security systems are a tiny minority.
Therefore, removing quick and easy access opportunities (such as padlocking up the ladder in your back garden) is probably the biggest single step you can take to protecting your home from these criminals. Remember, the vast majority of burglars want an easy life and they actively avoid confrontation.
Some of the following basic property security steps might be well worth considering (with some obligatory under the terms of your home insurance policy):
- install security locks on all doors and windows. You are not trying to turn your house into a fortress but equally, you are trying to put off casual burglars. Many basic locks are appallingly easy to force, so be prepared to spend some money to put decent ones in place;
- look critically at the strength of your external access doors and replace them if necessary. Some doors are very flimsy and shatter easily. There is no point in having a state-of-the-art security lock if the door it is attached to is paper-thin;
- don’t leave tools lying around in your garden. Whatever you might have seen in caricature roles on the TV, the vast majority of burglars do not walk the streets carrying crowbars, hammers and chisels in a sack over their shoulder – the risks of discovery are too high! Instead, many will look for you to help by providing your tools left lying around the property. Hoes, garden forks and spades can all be used to force open a door or window;
- use external security lighting where you can do so without causing a light nuisance to neighbours and a possible issue with the local council. One of the biggest disincentives for burglars is thinking that they will be lit up whilst going about their business;
- install a modern integrated professional security system possibly including a safe. Avoid simply buying a cheap DIY “Christmas Cracker” version and putting it in place yourself. Spend a little money here for added security;
- if your budget cannot stretch to a full-blown security system, then you can buy “dummy” alarm boxes that you fit on the outside of your home and give the impression you do have a system;
- get to know your neighbours. If they can see your property from theirs, they may give you an extremely useful added property security dimension in terms of spotting something that “doesn’t look right” and calling the police. If they don’t know you and your family, they might not even recognise that it’s an unauthorised person trying to gain entry;
- don’t leave doors and windows unlocked, even for a minute or two, if you are planning to leave your house or are down at the bottom of the garden. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to enter and snatch things of value that they see immediately available.
- do not leave spare keys lying around in what you think are safe and secure places around your garden. Burglars will have seen every conceivable place you might think of before and there is a high risk they will find your spare keys and enter;
- finally, consider a dog. True, you should NOT make a life-changing decision to purchase a dog exclusively for security reasons but it is a fact that one of the biggest deterrents to burglars is a barking dog. If it can be accommodated in the context of providing a loving home for the pooch concerned, it might be worth considering!
Take a few minutes to think about some of the above things because they may help you to avoid the heartache of burglary.