Holiday periods and winter months are statistically the best times for burglars; houses are empty as people go on their travels, or the long, dark nights with few people on the streets gives burglars the ideal opportunity to help themselves to our hard work. In order to ‘arm ourselves’ and our property and possessions as best as we can against burglary, we have listed some useful tips and tricks for you.
1. Assess your property
First and foremost it is important to know that there are 2 types of burglars: the professional burglar and the amateur.
The professional will plan his break-in well in advance; his goal is to remove as many valuable items as he can in as short a time as possible. He will therefore mainly focus on luxurious villas where the loot is worth the risk. They will also make sure that they can get away with stolen items as quickly as possible.
The amateur burglar, on the other hand, is more likely to be led by opportunity (an open window, for example). Amateurs are responsible for the majority of burglaries. It is also important to be aware that burglars are not always active at night, but will also work in broad daylight. As they say, “opportunity makes the thief”.
In general, it is important to assess your property by asking yourself a number of questions. Can a burglar easily get into and empty your home without being disturbed? Or is there a neighbourhood watch system? Is there a big hedge they can hide behind as they break in? Is your street quiet and empty during the day? Do you live in a terraced house or in a detached villa? It is impossible to completely burglar-proof your house, but you can make sure that you hinder any burglars as much as you can in their attempts to steal your property by installing a safe, for example.
2. The front door
The first thing thieves look at is your front door and lock mechanism. So make sure your front door looks sturdy. Furthermore, pay attention to the lock itself. A single cylinder lock will not impress any burglar, so think about placing a double cylinder lock. A sturdy bolt on the inside is also a good idea.
3. The windows
Install locks on the windows. Make sure the locks are visible, as this will further deter thieves. You should also make sure that you close the windows whenever you leave home. After all, an open window gives any burglar the opportunity to get in and out of your home without too much effort.
It is also a good idea to ensure that passers-by can not look into your home. So hang (net) curtains, because for a passing burglar your living room is basically a shop window display, although this isn’t the kind of ‘window shopping’ most of us enjoy.
4. The letter box
A typical image: the burglar feeds a strip of metal through the mailbox and clicks open the latch from the inside. We have probably all seen it some or other movie. But a cliché is a cliché for a reason; there is a ring of truth in it. You can easily make your letter box ‘burglar-proof’ by installing a box or basket around it on the inside of the door. No more breaking in via the letter box!
An additional plus – your mail is kept off the floor (so you won’t have to stoop). This means you not only make it more difficult for burglars to get inside, you also won’t put your back out when you collect your mail. Win-win!
5. The garage
Your garage or garden shed should be considered part of your home. You will often keep some very valuable items in them so make sure you install a decent lock here, too. This might also mean you deprive a thief of the opportunity of using your own tools to break into your home. If a burglar needs more than 3 minutes to break in, he will quickly choose another potential victim. Make sure that you never leave any material or tools in your garden, and certainly do not leave any ladders in the open. Do not leave your garage door open, even if you don’t plan to be gone for long.