Burglaries are up 14% on 2010
Burglaries have gone up substantially in the last year - how can you reduce your chances of being burgled this year?
Police revealed today that the number of domestic burglaries has risen by 14% in the past year, even though overall crime levels have remained flat or continued on a downward trend.
Home Office statisticians have also warned that, as there's been a 4% rise in the theft of unattended mobile phones and purses, larger increases in crimes involving property are likely to be on the way. So what steps can you take to try to make sure you don't become a victim this year?
We all employ various different methods to try to protect our homes from burglars. When I was a child, I remember my mum turning the radio on in an attempt to fool any would-be burglars into believing we were still in the house, listening to hour upon hour of Capital Radio, rather than out and about.
However, research has suggested one way of protecting your home sits on your driveway...
Judging you by your motor
It’s not just the neighbours that you can impress with your choice of motor – it may also help to keep the burglars at bay.
Halifax Home Insurance has done some fascinating research, commissioning criminologists to interview criminals with a history in burglary to get to the bottom of what sets a certain property out as a good burglary target.
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And one of the key things that a crook will judge you on is the car sitting outside.
The burglars said they would be less likely to attempt to break into homes that had a Porsche, Land Rover or Jaguar. Having these cars parked outside suggest to crooks that there will be a decent security device at the property, or that the owners will be home more often.
In contrast, if your home has a Vauxhall Vectra, Ford Mondeo or Volkswagon outside, the thieves are more likely to fancy their chances.
A shopping list of goods
The crooks were shown a variety of photographs of different homes, all different sizes and in different locations, and asked to rate them in terms of how attractive they were as burglary targets.
And once the homes hit the £600,000 valuation mark, they no longer looked so appealing to the would-be thieves. As one burglar explained in the study, there wasn’t much difference between the items the thieves would target in the expensive homes and the more middle-of-the-road homes – however, in the bigger homes, it would be harder to find those goods, as there would be more rooms to have to work through!
Instead, with the modest homes, they can take their time finding their favourite items to steal – cash, jewellery, alcohol, games consoles, BlackBerrys, iPhones – without having to worry so much about the standard of security.
We can’t all rely on having an expensive-looking house, with accompanying top-of-the-range motor outside though. So what can we do to keep the burglars at bay?
Tightening up security
There are plenty of things you can do to make your home a little more secure, so that if burglars do fancy their chances, they will at least be made to work in order to break in.
- Keep any valuables and keys out of sight. Leaving them near to windows only serves to attract burglars.
- Don’t leave keys in the lock.
- When you are out in the evening, leave some lights on and draw the curtains, to give the impression you are still home. You could also invest in a plug-in timer for some of your lights, so that they are automatically switched on at a certain time every day.
- Install outside security lighting. If other people can see your property then this may cause burglars to think twice before attempting to break in. This lighting tends to come in two different forms – lighting which comes on when triggered by movement, and lighting which comes on at dusk and remains on until the sun comes up. You’ll have to decide for yourself which you prefer.
- Install a burglar alarm. These come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and offer a variety of different features. You’ll have to decide for yourself which type of alarm is best for your property, or which represents the best value for money as alarms can be quite expensive.
- Join your local Neighbourhood Watch. If there isn’t one in place, consider setting it up.
- Fit strong locks to external doors.
- Protect your garden – the majority of burglars gain entry from the back, so consider high walls or fences to protect your garden.
- When you’re on holiday, try to arrange for a family member or friend to come over to the house on a regular basis to open or close curtains andpush through any mail/newspapers that are sticking out which may draw attention to the fact that you are not home.
Leave Facebook alone
Social media is becoming ever more popular, but the way we use it is giving some opportunistic thieves an invite into our homes.
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Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Bebo or whatever else, posting that you’re about to head off in holiday is not a smart move. As we explain in Why Facebook means your bills will rise, burglars are on their toes, ready to pounce if you give away such information online.
It’s not just holidays – there are all sorts of programmes that people use online, like Foursquare, which involve users ‘checking in’ wherever they may be. Of course, by doing so you not only tell your friends where you are, more importantly you tell them where you aren’t – and that’s at home.
Get it covered!
Of course, no matter how prepared you are, there’s still always a chance that a thief will manage to break in and make away with your possessions.
In which case, you’ll want the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home insurance will step in and give you a nice healthy payout. However, many of us see home insurance as just another luxury cover – according to the Association of British Insurers almost half of burglary victims are uninsured.
It’s a potentially expensive gamble to ditch home insurance, one that’s really not worth it. For a simple guide on how to get your home insurance in place, have a read of Eight reasons to switch your home insurance today.