Homeowners have been warned to look out for a new sticky tape trick being used by thieves to mark vacant properties.
Those looking to break into homes have been placing the clear tape over keyholes, to identify which properties are empty or unvisited.
A ‘concerning’ trend
Homeowners in Dublin, Ireland have been the latest victims of this ‘property marking’ trend, and there have been reports of the technique being used elsewhere, including Scotland.
Residents in the North Strand area of the city have described the trend as ‘deeply concerning’ and have reported the issue to police.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, told The Irish Independent: ‘It’s a tactic they use. They cover the keyhole with clear sticky tape to establish if the house is being accessed.
‘Two houses were found to have this tape on my street recently in North Strand. This is deeply concerning for residents.'
The idea with the trick is that if the tape is still there when the criminals check back, they deduce no one has gone in or out – and therefore believe the occupants are away.
Locals claim the same trick has also been adopted by squatters who are on the hunt for vacant properties to take over.
They have now requested additional patrols of the area and police are reportedly taking the matter seriously.
Calls for caution
Residents have been advised to remove any tape to prevent themselves from being targeted.
Dublin City Councillor, Ciaran Cuffe, confirmed reports of similar incidents over the past few months.
He said: ‘It can be a way of determining whether a building is in use.’
There have also been reports of thieves using stone mounds and other marks outside homes to alert accomplices to ‘valuable properties’.
Security alarms and secure locks and windows are simple tools which can help protect against theft.
How to protect against theft
According to Police.UK, homes with no security measures, such as strong deadlocks and alarms, are five times more likely to be broken into.
A few simple measures can make a big difference in safeguarding your home.
The police advice taking the following steps:
- Make sure your doors are strong and secure – consider fitting a bar for extra strength - a locksmith can advise you on how best to do it
- Glass panels on doors are particularly vulnerable. If you have one you could replace it with laminated glass which is stronger, or buy a film in a DIY store that to stick over the glass, making it harder to break
- Fit window locks with keys to all downstairs windows and those upstairs that are easy to reach
- Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you’re just out in the garden, remembering to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key)
- Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox Install a visual burglar alarm Install good outside lighting
- And if you are going away on holiday, it is advised to make you home look as though someone is living in it.
The police suggest the following:
- Use automatic timer-switches to turn your lights and radios on when it goes dark.
- Cancel any newspaper or milk deliveries
- Use the Royal Mail’s ‘keepsafe’ service – they keep your mail for up to 2 months while you’re away – mail sitting on your doorstep is a sign that you are away
- Trusted neighbours may be able to help you by collecting your post, opening and closing curtains and they could park their car on your driveway
- Avoid discussing holiday plans on public social networking sites – burglars can use any information you post on there to their advantage