Burglary

You can greatly reduce your risk of burglary by taking a few simple security measures to help make your property less attractive to thieves.

Most burglars are opportunists and target homes and businesses that offer the least risk of being caught.

Keep your home safe and secure 

  • keep front and back doors locked, even when you’re at home
  • install a burglar alarm with a visible alarm box
  • fit a door chain and spyhole for extra security
  • keep all valuables and keys out of sight and out of reach of doors and windows
  • store high value items in a hidden safe
  • mark your belongings and register them for free with Immobilise
  • fit energy efficient security lighting 
  • don’t leave spare keys in obvious places such as under doormats or plant pots
  • keep items that could be used to break into your property such as ladders, tools and wheelie bins stored safely away
  • lock side gates to prevent easy access to the rear of the property
  • check fencing regularly to keep it in good repair
  • use pea shingle on driveways or under windows, as it crunches loudly when stepped on
  • trim overgrown hedges and plants to remove hiding places and improve surveillance
  • use a timer switch to make your house look occupied, even when it isn’t
  • consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme 

Property marking

Property should be uniquely marked with your house number and postcode.

Popular ways to do this include visible permanent marking such as painting, etching or CRE-mark, or forensic marking with DNA products. You should also photograph each item and make a note of its details, including any serial or model numbers. This is particularly important with jewellery and collectors items.

You should also register your property on Immobilise. Anything with a serial number can be registered with Immobilise for free, and helps the police identify the owners of recovered property.

Marking your property makes it traceable and more difficult to sell on, making it less attractive to thieves. It also increases the chances of stolen property being reunited with its rightful owner if it’s recovered. 

Doors and windows

Burglars often gain access to their victim’s homes through unsecured doors and windows. Making sure your doors are strong and secure, and that all windows are fitted with a lock is a simple way to prevent thieves gaining easy access to your home. You should ensure any lock fitted is certified by the British Standard Institute.

Sheds

Garages and sheds are full of expensive tools and equipment that can easily be stolen, or used to break into the house. Many are unprotected and lack even basic security, making them a prime target for burglars.

Never leave a garage or shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house. Any connecting doors should be treated the same as an external door and be fitted with strong locks.

For extra security: 

  • make sure doors are strong and secure enough not to be kicked in
  • fit strong padlocks and hardware to doors
  • fit locks or bars to windows
  • secure tools and machinery with anchor posts
  • install a battery or mains-powered shed alarm
  • mark all tools and machinery with your postcode and register them on Immobilise
  • Replace all external screws with anti-tamper screws 

Going on holiday

Whether you’re going away for a day or a few weeks, you should take steps to make your home look occupied. A dark home in the evenings and uncollected mail is a sign to burglars that no one is home.

Before you go on holiday:  

  • cancel milk and newspaper deliveries
  • set up automatic timer switches to turn your lights on when it gets dark
  • register for the Royal Mail’s ‘keepsake’ service
  • move valuable items out of view of windows
  • cut front and back lawns and trim back plants
  • don’t discuss holiday plans on social media
  • ask a trusted neighbour to watch over your home whilst you’re away

Distraction burglary 

Never open your door to someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting. Most callers are genuine, but it’s important to be on your guard. Always make sure a caller is who they say they are before letting them into your home. 

Distraction burglars may try to trick their way into your home by posing as officials or playing for sympathy by asking for help, such as to use your toilet or phone. These people often work in pairs or groups. The caller will try to distract you so their partner can sneak into your home to steal. 

Genuine callers will be happy to show you their identification or call back when someone else is at home with you. So always ask if you’re unsure. 

If you are a pensioner, have a disability or impairment, you may be able to set up a password with your energy provider to help protect you further.

If don’t know or aren’t expecting a caller: 

  • make sure your back door is locked before answering the front door
  • use a door chain when opening the door
  • ask for identification and check it carefully before letting anyone in
  • ask them to come back when someone else is at home with you 
  • direct people asking for help to a nearby shop or other public place, don’t let them in 

Always report any suspicious callers to the police on 101.

Gold

The value of gold has grown dramatically over the past few years, making jewellery very attractive to thieves.

Gold is often passed down through many generations, making some communities and households more vulnerable to gold theft. Because of this, some are being increasingly targeted.

To help protect your valuables you should: 

  • make sure all jewellery is properly insured 
  • keep jewellery and other expensive items out of sight 
  • keep high value jewellery in a hidden safe
  • photograph each piece of jewellery being worn, so you can prove it belongs to you
  • register your valuables for free on Immobilise
  • be discrete when wearing expensive jewellery in public
  • be cautious about showing off valuables on social media 

Further advice and support

Immobilise - Sign up to register your property on the national property register.

The Crime Prevention Website - Free and independent crime prevention and home security advice.

Master Locksmiths Association - Get in touch wtih an MLA-approved locksmith if you require their services. Their website offers security advice, also.

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