SNIPPETT: How do you reduce the chance of becoming a burglary victim? We seek security advice from former criminals
Whether you are a tenant or a homeowner, becoming a victim of one of the 35,000 burglaries that take place each month is a very real fear for many people.
This is why tenants put the security of a rental property at the top of their list of must-have features, says Garton Jones Westminster Estate Agents.
Whilst there are obvious steps that can be taken, such as fitting high security locks to doors and window, investing in a burglar alarm and not leaving windows open at night, the best tips of all come from burglars themselves.
Police forces around the UK have worked with people convicted of burglary by offering them a chance, as a form of reparation, to set out the kind of tips which might not occur to a law abiding householder, but which are second nature to the professional criminal.
8 top tips to prevent a burglary
1 Padlock your wheelie bin in a position where it can’t be moved within reach of the house. Burglars often use objects such as wheelie bins as makeshift ladders to enable them to climb up and reach roofs or windows.
2 Resist the temptation to hide keys under rocks, plant pots, bins or doormats. These are the first places burglars will look for a key, particularly if there are tell-tale signs of a recent disturbance.
3 Store important documents, such as passports, upstairs and out of sight. Rather than targeting household goods and consumer items, burglars are increasingly honing in on passports, driving licences and bank statements because they can be sold on to other criminals specialising in identity theft.
4 The night time isn’t the only time you have to worry about burglars. On hot days, make sure you keep the front door and windows closed while you’re sat out in the back garden enjoying the sun. Burglars are opportunist criminals and can be in and out of your house, having stolen valuables, before you even notice.
5 Make sure any garden sheds are securely locked and padlocked. Even if you think that garden and DIY equipment is fairly low in value, the equipment in your shed could be used by a burglar to break into your house.
6 Don’t alert a potential burglar that your property is unoccupied. If you’re away on holiday, don’t be tempted to make your friends jealous by posting pictures on social media until after you’ve returned home.
And if you’re using a taxi to take you to the airport or train station at the start of a holiday, make sure you use a reputable firm that will not pass the information on. If you can’t be entirely certain your taxi firm is to be trusted, ask the driver to pick you up around the corner from your home.
7 Close and lock your gates. Anything that slows a burglar down, even slightly, may act as a deterrent.
8 Invest in timers that will turn your houselights on and off at the appropriate times when you’re away. Simply closing the curtains, leaving the light on and a radio blasting out throughout your absence is something of a giveaway that the house is empty.
Rent guarantee specialist Assetgrove adds that landlords with rental properties are advised to change the code to the burglar alarm every time a new tenant takes over the property, while skip hire broker Proskips adds that homes undergoing building work are at particular risk of burglary during the summer months.
A spokesman adds that although professional builders will leave the property secure each evening, having workmen on site means your neighbours will be less alert to strangers in or near your home.
This gives burglars the opportunity to enter your home without raising the suspicion of anybody nearby.