The house safety secrets burglars don’t want you to know
Burglary within the UK is on the rise: government figures show that last year there were more than 432,000 burglaries in England and Wales, a rise of two per cent on the previous year.
According to Mark Scovell, who works for Hampshire charity The Bobby Scheme, which helps elderly and vulnerable people protect their homes, there are some simple and inexpensive things we can do to deter burglars.
“Burglars look for a nice, easy property to get into,” he says. “When I visit homes, I look for deterrents that would put a burglar off from going in and encourage them to move onto a less well protected property.”
The Bobby Scheme, which is backed by supporters including insurance specialist Ageas, employs fitters like Mark who provide free advice and practical help to people in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.
Here’s his guide to the home safety secrets the burglars don’t want you to know.
Think like a burglar
Be mindful of the little things that can make your home look like an easy target.
· If you’re going on holiday, ask a neighbour to park their car on your driveway while you’re away.
· Consider using a timer switch that will flick on the lights and the radio – so it looks like there’s someone at home.
· Pop a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on your gate – even if you don’t have a dog, it might make burglars think twice. A simple ‘I love Rottweilers’ in a window could be just as effective.
Use some trickery
Police say 84 per cent of burglars avoid homes that appear to be fitted with a home security system.
A full system can be a substantial investment, but you could fit a convincing dummy alarm which can be an effective deterrent. A dummy CCTV can also be a low-cost option.
“In over 90% of burglaries, burglars come in through the back garden,” says Mark.
“Hinder them, not just with a bolt on your side gate, but also add a padlock so they’ve got to climb over. Put a trellis on top of your fence. Put prickly bushes, such as roses around fences.
“Watch where you put your wheelie bin - they’re great hop-ups for burglars to get over a gate.”
Make sure fences and gates at the rear of your property are at least 1.8m high or 2m with trellising, and put away tools and ladders.
Consider putting down a layer of gravel on your driveway. It will make a noise when walked on, which could deter burglars.
Hide those keys
A determined burglar can easily fish out keys through a letterbox and they usually know where to look for keys left in what owners might think is a safe hiding place.
A key safe is a good idea – particularly for someone who is vulnerable and may need to leave a key for carers or family to get in to their home.
Hide your smalls
Burglars don’t really want big, bulky items, warns Mark. They’re more interested in small, expensive things like jewellery or hard cash.
“Often the first thing they do is run up to the main bedroom, chuck all the jewellery on the bed and see what looks good,” adds Mark. “On average they spend just three to five minutes in your property.”
Mark suggests buying a proper safe, or less expensive hollowed out books or empty baked bean tin with a false bottom to hide your precious bits and pieces.
Don’t keep lots of cash in the house. If you must, try to put it in different locations.
Invest in good locks
Make sure downstairs and easily accessible windows are fitted with good locks. Door locks should meet British Standard 3621.
Don’t forget to make sure you lock up, even when you’re just popping to the bottom of the garden.
For peace of mind and reassurance that should the worst happen, you’ll have help at hand, visit insurance specialist Ageas.
Don’t forget to share these tips with friends and family – and help keep the burglars away.