Most burglaries are opportunist - criminals watch out for houses they think are unprotected in some way. Don’t make it easy for thieves to target your home – follow our simple tips to keep them out.
A burglar looks for:
- A home which looks empty
- Easy access to the back of the building
- Trees and bushes in surrounding area which provide good cover
- Homes with no visible signs of protection such as alarms or lighting.
When they’ve chosen a property they may:
- Look through the windows to see inside
- Check if any neighbours are watching
- Try door handles
- Leave items in the doorway to see if it has moved indicating the no one is coming and going if it hasn’t moved for a few days.
- Return to the property with tools to gain access.
- If you notice anyone acting suspiciously around neighbour’s property, ring 999.
- Keep windows and doors locked when you go out, even if it’s just for a few minutes. We recommend you keep doors locked even when you’re in the house as offenders may still try to gain access.
- Make sure side and back gates are secure.
- Be wary of sign of a distraction burglary, where more than one person calls at your door, trying to dupe you into letting one caller in to burgle you whilst you are distracted by another one.
- Consider fitting an approved burglar alarm system.
- Join or start a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Membership of a scheme is a proven deterrent to burglars.
- If you go out in the evening, close curtains and use automatic timer switches to turn your lights on when it goes dark. Set the timers so they go on and off at different times in different rooms.
- Use timer switches to turn on a radio but tune it to a station which has mostly talking.
- Keep keys, including shed and car keys in a place where they’re not visible to anyone looking in. Keep them out of reach of windows and doors. Don’t leave keys in the door and never hide a spare key outside.
- Insure your belongings. Many insurance companies offer reduced premiums for people with good home security, but make sure you lock your home properly and switch on any alarm; otherwise you may not be covered.
- Avoid keeping large sums of money at home.
- Don’t keep cheque books and cheque cards together and don’t write down PIN numbers for credit or debit cards.
- Keep documents containing personal details such as bank statements and passports out of sight; if no longer needed, carefully dispose of or shred these items.
- Consider keeping expensive jewellery, house deeds and other important items in a home safe anchored to the brickwork.
- Don’t leave garden tools outside, keep ladders out of sight and ensure sheds, garages and outbuildings are locked.
- Even when you’re at home, try not to leave accessible windows open at night.
- Christmas is a key time for burglaries, with many houses full of new and valuable presents. Don’t alert burglars by leaving present packaging outside, put it all in your recycling box out of sight.
- Never give your keys to anyone you do not know well. Change the locks when you move house so that you know exactly who has keys.
Quick tips for securing your property
- Use UV or indelible pens, postcode etching or chemically coded systems to mark your property and make it difficult for thieves to sell it on.
- Register your valuables for free on the Immobilise website. Immobilise helps police identify the owners of recovered property thousands of times every day.
- Photograph highly valuable items such as jewellery, paintings and antiques. Keep the pictures in a safe place, outside your home.
Bikes are one of the most commonly stolen items. Failing to secure them makes them an easy target for thieves.
Get a strong lock
A heavy-duty bike lock can make a thief’s job more difficult, which should lead them to abandon attempts to steal your bike or move onto a bike with a less secure lock.
Make your mark
Marking your bike with a unique code ensures that Police will be able to trace your bike back if it is stolen and recovered. Consider the Immobilise system mentioned above.
Check whether your home contents insurance covers your bike. Make sure it covers you for thefts outside the home too. If your bike is particularly valuable you may need to insure it separately.
Out and about
When leaving your cycle in a public area, lock both wheels and the frame of your bike to a cycle stand or other immovable object. Use designated parking areas where possible. Make sure the locks go through the bike frame as well as both wheels and the post you are securing it to. Otherwise, a thief may steal the bike and leave the wheels behind. Don’t park in the same place every day. If bike thieves are stealing to order they are more likely to target you if they know where you will be. Ensure you park your bike in a well-lit area, where is can be easily seen by passers-by.
More than half of bikes are stolen from home. Reduce the chances of this happening by storing your bike in a locked shed or garage or place inside the home and secure it to an immovable object. Always keep it out of view. Never leave it unattended when getting ready to leave the house. It only takes an opportunist thief seconds to grab it and go.
Garden and shed security
Your garden should be your first line of defence against burglars. If someone can get into your garden easily without attracting attention it will give them more time to steal from you. Making your garden more secure could prevent an intruder from getting into your home, garage or shed.
- Installing strong fences or gates will act as a deterrent, preventing intruders getting into your garden. Ideally any gates, fencing, walls and hedges at the front of your house should not be more than 1.2m (4ft) so the front of your property can be seen by passers-by. A standard 1.8m (6ft) wall or fence at the back of your house is sufficient. Increase the height to 2m (6ft6in) if there is public access on the other side – any higher than this and you will need planning permission.
- Trellis fixed to the top of a fence is not only decorative but can provide extra protection as it is difficult to climb over, breaking easily and noisily.
- If there is an access point to your garden at the side of your house a strong lockable gate will act as a deterrent. Fit good quality locks that cannot be reached from over the fence.
- Garden gates should be at least the same height and strength as your fencing with hinges securely attached to the gateposts.
- If you store larger items such as bikes in a shed make sure it is secure, and use bike locks.
- Planting prickly plants or a hedge, such as firethorn, climbing rose or hawthorn, around the perimeter of your garden can be a powerful deterrent.
- Gravel on paths and driveways can act as an alert to someone coming towards your property.
- Install dusk to dawn security lighting. The low energy lamp stays on in the dark and switches off when it starts to get light.
- Secure garden furniture and wheelie bins so they cannot be used to climb on and gain access to upstairs windows. Keep them locked in a garage or shed or chained to a wall.
- Do not leave tools, gardening equipment or debris lying around the garden as they could be used to smash windows.
- While working in your garden, make sure doors and windows are locked to stop unwanted visitors entering without your knowledge, it only takes a few seconds.
- Do not use barbed wire, razor wire or broken glass on walls or fences to protect your property. You could be held legally responsible for any injuries caused. Plastic spikes are a legal and safer alternative to the traditional use of gripper rods and glass on exterior walls and fences and is available on the internet in a variety of colours.
- If you have an enclosed private garden, consider CCTV.
When you go on holiday
- Be careful of where you publish your absence on the internet. Status updates, comments and photos on social media can all give away the fact that you are out of your home for an extended period.
- If you use a taxi to get to the airport, use a company you trust and don’t discuss your holiday plans.
- Don’t put your home address on your luggage on your outward journey to your holiday destination.
- If you have a trusted neighbour, friend or relative nearby with a key, ask them to draw your curtains in the evening and back in the morning. Don’t leave curtains drawn during the day as this shows the house is empty.
- Ask a neighbour to push post through your letterbox and take in any deliveries for you.
- Consider using the Royal Mail Keep Safe service. They will keep mail for up to 100 days at a charge.
If you have located them in a store, inform the manager straight away to prevent a further sale. Inform the officer in charge of your case, who was allocated to you when you reported the crime and they will make enquiries for you. If you believe your cycle is being sold online, record as many details as possible, possibly taking a photo of the advert, make a note of any addresses or contact numbers then inform the officer in charge. Don’t put yourself at risk by visiting an address in person.
Do not use barbed wire, razor wire or broken glass on walls or fences to protect your property. You could be held legally responsible for any injuries caused. Plastic spikes are a legal and safer alternative.
If you own your home then you do not need anybody else’s permission to fit the cameras. If you do not own your home you will need written permission from the landlord or owner of the property before installing CCTV.