Keeping your home secure: how burglars target your home & how to keep safe

Keeping your home secure: how burglars target your home & how to keep safe

As one insurer warns homeowners to prepare for a spike in break-ins, we reveal the steps you can take to keep your belongings safe.

lovemoney staff

Mortgages and Home

lovemoney staff
Updated on 16 August 2022

Homeowners need to be more vigilant than usual over the coming weeks due to a spike in burglaries.

Internal data compiled by Tesco Bank found that just over a fifth (21%) of break-in claims happen in August and September.

Alex Cross, insurance director at Tesco Bank said burglaries are often easier in the warmer months when doors and windows are often left ajar. 

"More often than you’d expect, burglaries are carried out by opportunists who manage to let themselves in," Cross added. 

Earlier research by insurer LV= highlighted how burglary trends have also changed since the pandemic struck, with a sharp increase in thefts from outbuildings, most likely because more workers have set up a home office of some sort.

The rise in people creating working from home environments during the pandemic has become a new target for burglars, with LV= claims data showing thefts from outbuildings and office sheds rocketed 43% in the last 12 months, with thieves emboldened by an easy escape route. 

“With many of us working from home for some time now, thieves haven’t been as opportunistic but we’re concerned the ease of restrictions will result in a sharp rise as more homes are left unoccupied during the day," adds Martin Milliner, claims director at LV=.

"The large increase in thefts from outbuildings is also significant because many people have added the space to work from home but it also creates an easy target.

"It is so important that homeowners check all doors and windows are securely locked before leaving the house, as it’s so easy to forget to check.”

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How burglars get access to your home

While most burglars enter a property through the front door, here are six less obvious ways that somebody could attempt to get into your home, according to locksmiths Keys 4 U.

Burglary hotspots UK: the towns and places with the most break-ins

From above

Whilst doors and windows are obvious access points for burglars, lofts and areas above the ceiling are also a means of gaining access.

Flats are particularly at risk as these spaces may not be compartmentalised to each home, making it easier for intruders to break into properties. 

Through a wall

External walls are usually robust enough to keep burglars out, but separating walls in flats and houses may be weaker and be an easy entry point for somebody looking to access your home and belongings.

Through the letterbox

A locked door can still assist a burglar in getting into your property if your letterbox is not secured.

Specialist tools can allow intruders to unlock door hatches from outside the door, while a glimpse through the letterbox can reveal valuables and sets of keys that might be nearby.

What’s more, if they see a big pile of letters, they’ll know no one has been in for a while.

A simple way to prevent this from happening is by fitting a draft excluder or cage to your letterbox.

Using your tools

Garden sheds and garages are often overlooked when it comes to securing doors and windows of the property, but they contain items that could help a potential burglar enter your home.

Not only do you want to protect any valuables in your shed, but things such as heavy tools and ladders can help an intruder force their way into the house, and so they should be locked away whenever you aren’t using them.

Hiding outside

While most break-ins are opportunistic, some burglars prefer to observe and gather information before attempting to get inside.

Unkempt gardens can provide an ideal spot for anybody looking to watch a property without being seen, so it is best to keep tall hedges trimmed and install outside lighting where possible.

What’s more, an unkempt lawn could be a sign the house has been empty for a while, especially in the warmer months.

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Through your social media

Thanks to social media, a potential burglar doesn’t necessarily need to be nearby to see when you’re out and about.

A recent study by Swinton Insurance found that those who posted online while they were on holiday are more likely to have their home broken into than those who don’t.

The company recommends saving any social media posts about your holiday until you have arrived back at home and changing your privacy settings to ensure only close friends and family members can view your online activity.

People who decide against putting security measures in place to protect their homes are five times more likely to be the victims of burglary than those who do, according to the Home Office.

Measures also need to be taken to put you in the best possible position in the instance that you do get burgled — read our home insurance tips to make sure you and your belongings are covered.

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How to keep your home safe from burglars

Insurer Aviva teamed up with former burglar Michael Fraser to share tips on how to better protect our homes, which we've included below:

Be careful about what you have on show

Don’t be tempted to display expensive items through your windows.

If you have more than one lock on your door, use them

Burglars can get a sense of how easily a door will open by simply pushing a foot against it. Aviva research suggests almost a quarter (23%) of people with double locks don’t always use both.

Remember that your home is a reflection of your attitude to security

If you don’t have window locks or alarms, you might look like an easy target.

Use a cage on your letterbox 

This can prevent people from getting items such as keys, by fishing through your letterbox using a pole.

Similarly, don’t leave keys near your external doors, particularly on easily accessible surfaces, such as a hall table. Keep them hidden away where there’s no easy access.

Be mindful that people don’t need to be near your home to check out its security levels. Online street maps allow burglars to view your home from the comfort of theirs.

Know that burglars can often spot a fake or disused alarm box

For example, if it’s dirty and therefore not being serviced, or doesn’t have connections running into the box. A cat or dog at the home might also suggest that a burglar alarm isn’t being used, as they could trigger it.

Make sure your upstairs levels are protected

Nearly a quarter of UK residents have left upstairs windows open when going out, but even a little gap can allow someone to get in. Also, if you have a burglar alarm, make sure you use it upstairs too – many residents turn on just the downstairs alarms.

Consider getting a gate if there’s scope to put one onto your property

If you have one already, make sure you shut it. This can act as an important psychological barrier to deter burglars, as well as a physical one.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

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