How to deter burglars and intruders & keep your home safe
One group of people suffering more than many during the COVID crisis, for whom our sympathy will be limited, are burglars. Because so many of us are working or residing longer times at home, there are fewer empty houses for them to invade. Good news. But it won’t last forever. As we emerge from ‘lock-down’ opportunities will arise once more. Find out what you can do to avoid making yourself a target.
Cambridgeshire experienced almost 500 burglaries during January. This had fallen by around a half by May, since when it has been creeping back up again. (Cambridgeshire burglary crime statistics in maps and graphs. (plumplot.co.uk)) The reasons are obvious, and it will be interesting to see how the recent restrictions over November will have affected these numbers.
Now, as we become able to move around again and leave our homes for longer periods, the opportunists are ready to take advantage. And with Christmas approaching, and houses filling with goodies, temptations for burglars are peaking.
Another positive aspect of COVID is the number of micro-community WhatsApp groups that have sprung up. Our residents’ group has really raised and strengthened our local spirit – entertaining and supporting in equal measure. It has also alerted us to occasional criminal behaviour, with unwelcome posts about opportunists trying to access homes and gardens, cars being damaged, and suspicious behaviour.
Sadly, we have seen our handymen and glaziers getting more requests from customers to fix or secure broken windows and doors following either an attempted or actual burglary. One poor lady came across a burglar in the act, and although he fled empty-handed and she was safe, it was very distressing for her and urgent repairs to her windows were needed.
Prevention is better than cure
Almost half of burglaries are spur of the moment, opportunistic. In fact, the majority of burglaries are committed by someone living typically within two miles of you and will take place between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm.
Villains will look for properties that appear unoccupied, have no obvious security, have reachable access, and where they can move unseen. So, if a potential intruder happens to walk past your property, don’t be an easy target. Use our tips to keep your home secure; with these measures, your property is nearly 50 timeless likely to be a target.
How to deter burglars – 20 tips
Did you know? It’s believed that a burglary is committed every 40 seconds in the UK, so by the time you’ve finished reading this 3 could have already taken place.
1. Gravel the path or driveway so you can hear anyone approaching.
2. Use timers to switch lights, radios, and TV on during prime theft hours if you are not at home.
3. Install outside lighting with infrared motion sensors.
4. Replace rotted door frames with new, solid wood.
FACT: Most burglars will try the front door to start, then the first-floor window, then the back door, followed by the garage and the basement. Burglars will look for ‘hidden’ spare keys or simply kick the door in or remove it from the hinges. They want to be in and out within 5 minutes.
5. Use door and window locks – deadbolt locks, bars on windows, and pin locks in sash windows. Remember to lock all sheds, garages, and outbuildings. Bonus tip: to stop a sliding door from opening, even when it’s unlocked, put a curtain rod in the track at the base.
6. Leave spare keys in a secure place, such as a coded key box and not under a plant pot or doormat. Better still leave them with a neigbour you trust.
7. Burglars spend on average 5 minutes in a home. So if a thief does get into your house, rather than leaving small valuables in the obvious places consider hiding them in books, games boxes, or food stores (remembering of course that you left them there) or ask our handymen to build you false bottom drawers or install a safe.
8. Trim or prune plants that could provide cover and if you plant hedges near your home, consider ones with thorns, or a suitable anti-climb topping such as plastic spikes make it difficult for anyone climbing over a fence or gate.
9. Lock away ‘tools’ that an offender could use: ladders, bricks, garden equipment.
10. Keep your home in a good state of repair: a tidy garden, painted doors, and window frames, because if a home in a seemingly dilapidated state might appear easier to break into.
11. CCTV is an expensive but very effective deterrent. A good house alarm, but if you can’t afford one, fake alarm signs or a fake alarm box can deter a burglar from targeting your home in the first place.
12. Avoid temptation, keep attractive items such as jewellery, electrical equipment such as phones and tablets, laptops, cash, and car keys, out of sight from windows.
13. Be careful when location tagging images on social media and do not indicate whether you are away or not when you change your status. Only share your holiday highlights when you return. Former England and Chelsea footballer, John Terry’s £5m mansion was broken into in February after he posed for pictures on the slopes with his family, revealing to his 3.4 million Instagram followers that he was having a “great few days away skiing with the family”.
14. Someone is home in about 28% of burglaries so make sure you leave front doors and windows secure even when you are in
15. Be nice to your neighbours – they are the best people to keep an eye on your property when you are away.
“It’s a myth that burglars all wear shellsuits, trainers and carry swag bags. Today’s burglars may be unrecognisable – smartly dressed in suits, carrying briefcases or even [high-visibility] waistcoats”. says Noel “Razor” Smith, ex burglar who served 32 years for over 200 burglaries.
16. Lower fences at the front around one-meter high are preferable to high fences as they allow for a clear view over the top and don’t provide cover for anyone wishing to hide.
FACT: Burglars no longer want to steal televisions and sound systems. They are more likely to be looking to steal car keys and even your personal identity data. It’s more beneficial for a burglar to take documents, laptops, passports, and bank cards to sell your personal data from them.
17. Install trackers on your technology equipment.
18. Create a record and copy of your passports and all other important documents, financial or sentimental, and check that your home insurance is in date.
19. You never know whether or not a burglar is staking out your property, so make it appear as if there is someone at home – say and wave goodbye to ‘someone’ when you leave the house, even if there is no one there.
20. Get a dog, because they are territorial by nature and are proven to act as a deterrent, especially if they have a bark which is worse than a bite, like my two, pictured below. Although the bottom of my list, they always come in the top 3 of deterrents for burglars.
Only invite traders you can trust in your home. See article on trustworthy flyers
How to deter burglars? Connect with scuseme Cambridge tradespeople
Scuseme Cambridge can recommend personally vetted local tradespeople and home services to help you put in place the necessary measures to secure your property. To talk to one of our experts call 01223 520373 or make an enquiry here.
Dawn Giesler, is the founder of scuseme Cambridge, an online marketplace that helps your family run smoothly. She has lived in Cambridge for over 20 years and offers advice based on her own experiences. For more information about all the services and tradespeople they recommend, visit scuseme
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