Trust the professionals

At P&R Alarms we consider ourselves to be expert professionals in the security industry, but there is another group of security professionals, in a sense, who we should listen to when it comes to keeping our homes and businesses safe and secure – the professional burglar. It might seem odd to ask burglars for security tips, but reformed housebreakers often end up consulting to the security industry as they have first-hand experience of trying to circumvent the measures people put in place to keep their houses and possessions safe. They also know what puts them off targeting a property in the first place, which is really valuable information for law abiding citizens.

In 2017, there were over 260,000 break ins across the UK, which means approximately 1% of households were the scene of a burglary, with thousands of failed attempts recorded alongside that figure. This might seem like a low number, and not worth worrying about, but when you consider that the average cost of repairing damage and replacing stolen items comes in at between £3,000 and £6,000 it starts to become obvious that few people can afford the financial aftermath of a break in, not to mention the months of stress and anxiety that follows an incident like this. Some people even move house due to the negative memories and the worry that thieves will return.

A survey carried out on 100 inmates by Which? found that 71% of burglars would avoid a house with an alarm system, although they agreed that much of the time alarms are ignored by neighbours, or not even set by the homeowner. They stated that a monitored alarm system with a police response was the most effective deterrent, and that making it obvious that the alarm system is monitored and responded to, is really important for putting burglars off.

The same group of ex-burglars was asked whether they would find an alternative target if there was an alarm system present, 13% said they might continue with the break-in if they thought the alarm system was a dummy, or unlikely to elicit a response from neighbours. 60% of those surveyed said CCTV would be a major factor in deciding on a target, while more than 40% said they would definitely look for another target if CCTV was present.

Other deterrents which make the house look occupied are a car on the driveway, which almost 100% of ex-burglars said would put them off, while a similar number said a TV or radio on would make them find another target, as they don’t want to be disturbed during a burglary. Sturdy and visible door and window locks are another good way of deterring burglars, as 22% enter through a downstairs window and a little over 50% through the front or back door.

Lighting triggered by a motion sensor is a great deterrent for burglars looking to act now and those checking out a property for the future. Bright lighting means no shadows to hide in, and also illuminates details like CCTV cameras, security alarms and locked windows. Only 24% of UK homes have this type of lighting, leaving 76% as potential targets.

Finally, having a dog is also a brilliant burglar deterrent. 34% of inmates asked said a dog barking would put them off, with big breeds the most popular for home protection, although a Jack Russell is often feistier and louder than bigger dogs and small enough to go for the ankles.

We hope this list of burglar-approved deterrents helps you strengthen your home security without breaking the bank, and also makes you more aware of the factors that a burglar thinks about when they are choosing a home to target – the more unattractive your house is to thieves the less likely it is to become a target.