Advice on Home Security
Please take the time to read these tips on burglary prevention which are based on our daily experience in helping burglary victims in Cheltenham and Gloucester secure their properties.
How do burglars select properties to break into?
They will identify properties which are likely to have items that they can easily steal. Dwellings which can be looked into from the road or pavement allow a thief to decide whether a property is worth breaking into. They will be able to assess who lives at the property, for example, a family where both parents work and the children are at school. Or a retired couple who routinely go shopping every Tuesday morning. The rear and side access will be verified including the number and type of door locks. Is there a cat flap? If so, the alarm, if there is one, may be left off. A cat flap also gives a burglar the ability to fish for keys not to mention the fact that it weakens the door making it easier to kick a hole through.
If there is an alarm system does it look as if it is monitored and maintained by a professional installer or is it a DIY system? A burglar will avoid a property with a monitored alarm system as they do not know how long they have before the Police or owner will be on site.
What do burglars like to steal?
Obviously number 1 is always cash but basically any item that can be easily taken from your home and sold on is what a burglar is looking for.
The proliferation of internet selling sites provides a large anonymous market place for stolen property making it easier than ever for criminals to cash in on your stolen property. The most common items we find targeted are:
- Smart phones, laptops, tablets (Ipads etc), Playstations and Xbox consoles. LED TVs and of course jewellery.
- Car theft is common where the burglar is able to get your vehicle keys if left near the front or back door.
- Stolen vehicles are easily shipped abroad where they are given a new identity and sold on. This practise is common.
- Cycles and motorcycles including scooters and mopeds.
- We see rural properties targeted for quad bikes and garden machinery.
What does a burglar do when in my house?
They will generally gain entry through a window or door at the side or rear of the property. Some are known to then head to the front door and balance a bottle, cup or something else close at hand on the front door handle. This is done to provide an audible early warning if the home owner returns and also provides some confusion to the returning home owner giving the intruder a few extra valuable seconds to make their escape.
They head upstairs, the main bedroom is usually the first room to be searched where the burglar will look under the bed, this is where many people keep valuables. Drawers, shelves and cupboards will be searched. Then they will proceed into the kitchen where people generally keep important paperwork.
It is unusual for a burglar to go into a loft as they would become trapped if the home owner returned.
A burglary like this can be carried out in less than 5 minutes with the criminal potentially taking thousands of pounds of your property.
If a burglary is committed whilst you are away on holiday then your home will remain unsecured and vulnerable to further attacks.
Our Top 10 Tips on Home Security
- Always close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going to be away for a short time.
- Keep valuables and keys out of sight. Do not leave car keys or ID documents near a letterbox, cat flap or window.
- Fit mortice locks to all external doors. Preferably use an MLA licensed locksmith.
- Purchase a monitored burglar alarm from an NSI accredited installer.
- Leave some lights on if you will be returning home after dark.
- Always check who is at the door before opening. If unsure do not open it.
- Keep sheds and outbuildings secure.
- If you are going to be away for an extended length of time then be sure to cancel milk and any deliveries. Ask a friend or neighbour to make sure your post is collected or pushed fully through the letterbox.
- Do not reveal too much personal information online. Criminals use Facebook and Twitter to reveal personal information about you, your possessions and your whereabouts.
- Mark or etch your property with your address and register these items for free at www.immobilise.com. Take pictures of valuable items such as jewellery and antiques.
What To Do If You Have Been Burgled
1. Call the Police.
The Police recommend you call 101 to report the break-in. If you think there is still an intruder inside then do not enter and call the police on 999 from a safe location.
2. Do not touch anything.
Do not touch anything or attempt to clear up the mess as the Police may wish to gather forensic evidence.
3. Cancel your bank cards and report stolen passports and driver licences.
If you think your bank cards have been taken then contact your bank and credit card company and cancel your cards. Ensure that any stolen official documentation is reported.
4. Secure Your Property.
Ensure that the point of entry made by the burglar is made secure. Make sure you have all sets of keys and none are missing. If you think any keys were taken then ensure that the locks are changed.
5. Obtain a Crime Report Number.
The Police will give you a unique crime reference number that will be required for your insurance claim.
6. Make a List of Stolen and Damaged Property.
Make a room by room assessment of stolen and damaged items and compile a list of these items including serial numbers and any identifying marks.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company.
Hopefully you have insurance cover and will be able to claim for stolen and damaged items and any property damage.
8. Victim Support.
Being burgled is an unpleasant experience and can be extremely traumatic. Victim Support are able to offer help and if required, counselling. They can be contacted on 08081689111 or www.victimsupport.org.uk