Professional burglars can be quite educated in the signs of a good home to target, how to work out the best time to strike and also the best, most inconspicuous access routes in and around the building. They research their targets through several methods, often starting online, where people foolishly share details of their upcoming holiday or mini break, or even shorter absences, such as a meal out with friend or family. It’s really important not to publicly disclose any absence from the home, however short, as if your property has been identified as an easy target, a burglar can take their chance to break in while you’re meeting a friend for coffee.
Burglars can be pretty sneaky on social media, even going as far as setting up fake profiles, then adding lots of people in the local areas as friends to glean bits of information. These snippets of information build up to create a detailed picture of your life, your movements and your belongings. For example, you might post a picture of a new piece of jewellery, or update your status because you’re excited about a new big purchase. You might also confirm your intention to attend a public event, and perhaps even mention that you had to re-home your dog. All these things by themselves are pretty innocuous, but put together a burglar knows you haven’t got a pet to stop them or start barking if they enter your home, they know when you’ll be out, and how long for, and they know there’s something inside worth stealing.
Another way burglars identify good targets is to pose as professionals, perhaps a plumber, meter reader or even a police officer to gain access to your home. This type of permitted entry to your home can be used as a scouting exercise to find out exactly what you’ve got and where the weak points of entry are. They’ll also engage you in conversation in the hope that you’ll drop some details about your movements, perhaps when you go to the gym or when you’re off on holiday. The classic film Home Alone shows this tactic in action, when Harry poses as a police officer pretending to be checking on people’s home security arrangements for the festive period, but he’s actually getting intelligence about who’s left their house empty.
Gaining entry by pretending to be an official person can also be used as a cover for an accomplice to enter while you’re distracted and steal your valuables right from under your nose. These distraction burglaries are particularly common among the elderly, who may trust an official looking person and let them in and then not hear their accomplice rooting through their home. Always ask for ID from any caller who you are not expecting, and don’t be afraid to refuse access to anyone you’re not 100% sure about. Genuine callers will understand your reasons and will be able to return with ID or verify their identity in a different way, while burglars will not and may become hostile if they are refused entry. If in doubt, don’t let them in and call the police non-emergency number (101) to make a report.
A really common entry route into homes is a garage door. Most properties with a garage have a door linking it to the main house and it’s vital you keep this locked, even when you’re in the house. You might have a video doorbell, extra secure window locks and a heavy duty door, but people often overlook the security of their garage door. This is a mistake, because many types can be opened from the outside with a piece or wire or a coat hanger – this is slipped under the door and used to pull the opening mechanism allowing access. Once inside the burglars can move freely around your home and even steal a car that’s kept in the garage, allowing them to take much more than they can physically carry.
There are some determined and experienced burglars out there, so staying one step ahead of the game is vital in the fight against crime. We can advise on the best alarm systems and home CCTV to keep your house and your family safe, as well as advice on non-technical security tips specific to your home when we do a site visit. We’ll always bring ID with us when we call!