Most burglaries tend to be opportunistic rather than planned. So if your home does not look secure or seems unlived in it could be at risk. Understanding what burglars look for when choosing their target will help improve your home's security.
Leaving doors, windows, or garages unlocked or open, even for a few minutes, can be very appealing to a thief as it presents an easy opportunity to steal your belongings. Make sure all entrances to your home are properly locked including doors, windows and gates. Some insurance policies have clauses that mean there needs to be evidence of a forced entry in order to be able to claim. So for example, if you left your door unlocked and a thief walked in you may not be covered.
Dave Simms, Head of Home Contents Insurance at Ecclesiastical Insurance said “Expensive equipment, valuables or ID documents should never be left around windows or in plain view for others to see; it could be too tempting for a burglar to ignore. Another thing to be wary of is leaving boxes outside for recycling, especially after Christmas, this can advertise your house to thieves as a potential treasure trove of expensive gadgets. A better idea is to take the boxes to your local recycling bank yourself.”
Thieves don't like to be in the spotlight so fitting outdoor lights that operate on a sensor switch (to save electricity) which activates when movement is detected is a good way to deter them. Using timer switches on lights in your house can also be a good deterrent for an opportunist thief, especially if you are away for a few days or want to make your house look occupied on dark evenings before you get home from work.
It is possible to mark your belongings with your postcode using an ultraviolet marker. You could also register your property on Immobilise, the UK national property register. That way if you are unlucky enough to be burgled your possessions can be identified should the police recover them. Supported by the police, Immobilise allows you to create a free, private and secure portfolio of all your personal property. It is used by all UK Police forces to trace owners of lost and stolen property.
Do not leave your car keys near doors, windows or your letterbox.
Consider joining your local Neighbourhood Watch and if there isn’t one why not start one? Every Neighbourhood Watch scheme is different because each is run by and for the members of its community.
Neighbourhood Watch is about making sure that no one has to feel afraid, vulnerable or isolated in the place where they live. It’s about people looking out for each other. You can find out if there is already a group in your area on the Neighbourhood Watch website
Consider installing an alarm system. It’s a good way to discourage burglars from targeting your home. It could also reduce your insurance premium. The alarm system keypad should be installed near the door for easy access to the people living inside the home and the password should only be given to trusted adults.
Also, be careful to conceal wires, someone could be looking for them to either disconnect or cut them. If you are thinking about the installation of an alarm system in your home it is worth taking into account that the police response to alarm activations varies according to the type of alarm installed, hard-wired systems or wire-free. Dave Simms adds “Our guide to choosing a burglar alarm gives you more information about how to choose the right type of alarm for you.”
If you do suffer a break-in or burglary, it is vital that you report it to the police. 101 is the number to call when you want to contact your local police - when it’s less urgent than a 999 call. 101 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will also need to notify your insurance company to report the break-in and make a claim.