Winter is a burglar’s favourite time of year. One in ten burglary claims by Rias Home Insurance customers in 2015 happened in November*.
Dark evenings make it easier for burglars to break in without being noticed, and when lights are off empty homes are easier to spot. Christmas shopping means many houses are stuffed with attractive goods that are easy to sell quickly - jewellery, cash and electronics are the most stolen items.
Burglary can be incredibly distressing to go through, and leave you feeling very vulnerable in your own home. Richard Taylor, reformed thief and star of Channel 5’s ‘It Takes a Thief To Catch a Thief’, agrees.
"When your home is targeted by burglars it’s a terrible experience – whilst an intruder won’t consider your own personal safety, you must. Valuables and possessions can be replaced, but your life, and the lives of your family can’t. Don’t confront or try and use physical force to restrain and capture burglars in your home, because if you do, you could be putting your life in danger, and it simply isn’t worth it."
The good news is that a few simple steps can considerably reduce the risk that you’ll be targeted.
Richard’s top tips to keeping your home and possessions safe include:
1) Create ‘burglar barriers’:
Low hedges at the front of the house create a physical barrier to get over, at the same time as creating a mental barrier for burglars who are still visible from the street.
2) Prepare a noisy environment:
A barking dog and a noisy gravel drive will put burglars off targeting your property.
3) Look ‘lived in’ – even when you’re away:
If you are away from home for long periods of time make use of timer switches to turn lights on, speak to a neighbour or postman to make sure post and papers don’t pile up, and keep your curtains shut.
4) Keep keys away from your letterbox:
Never leave car keys close to your letterbox at home as selfie sticks are now used to hook and retrieve them before stealing your car.
5) Lock it up, even inside:
A determined burglar will get in if he wants to, so think about a safe for your most important valuables and possessions.
6) Protect yourself from ID theft:
Don’t leave bank or credit card statements lying around, as any burglar may instantly have access to thousands of pounds.
7) Hide your keys:
Don’t leave keys out in the open or in an obvious drawer – this could allow a burglar repeat access to your property, and even access to your car.
8) Steer clear of physical confrontation:
Never confront a burglar. You don’t know their history. External influences such as drugs can make behaviour unpredictable.
9) Don’t be too social:
Be aware that thieves use social media to profile their victims – where they live, where they go, the items they own – so avoid posting anything that could be potentially sensitive.
10) Make your own call:
Asking to use someone’s mobile as an emergency before stealing it is a common tactic. It preys on peoples’ generosity and can happen very fast. You dial the number if you’re asked to help someone.
*Figures taken from 1,475 Rias household burglary claims in 2015
- Data taken from official police figures 2015 and ONS population estimates (Police data https://data.police.uk/ and http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/5338/downloads#res484776). ONS data is from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datase