Burglary

People often ask what offenders look for, how they get in, what they take, why they offend, how they can be stopped etc. The following attempts to answer some of those questions and give a wider understanding of the burglary problem.

Most burglaries are committed by opportunists who neither ‘stake out’ homes or watch householders. Many choose to offend locally, while some, perhaps fearing recognition go further afield. Some have preferred methods and target areas with properties featuring the vulnerabilities they seek, for example, communal front doors or vulnerable rear boundaries. On occasions, a burglar recently released from prison may return to his ‘normal’ area and commit offences until re-convicted. There are seasonal variations too, for example, an increase in offences via windows in hot weather.

The majority of offenders seek out valuable, portable goods that can be sold on. Consumer electrical goods are an established ‘favourite’, especially expensive new innovations. Over the years, hi-fi music systems, colour TVs, video recorders (remember them?), computers, flat screen TVs, and laptops have all been on the burglars shopping list. Cash, identification documents, bank cards, cameras and of course, jewellery also feature.

Rationally minded burglars know their own abilities and weigh up the potential reward against the risks involved. Less able or more desperate offenders, perhaps feeding a drug habit, may simply break into a vulnerable property and take whatever is available.

Of course, the most important part is ‘how to stop them’. Perhaps the commonly made statement “if they want to get in, they will” is occasionally true; a minority of offenders will go to extreme lengths. However, that is no reason to adopt a defeatist attitude, the fact of the matter is most offences are preventable.

Look at your homes’ surroundings. Try to deal with those features which may assist an offender. Maintain a secure boundary and remove cover or hiding places. It is no coincidence that the house with the high front hedge is often the one which gets burgled. Leave nothing lying around which may assist an offender; ladders and garden tools should all be locked away. Secure your home in line with the advice available on the links provided. A good starting point is to ensure all external doors, plus ground floor and accessible windows are secure. Try not to make your home a shop window for offenders, within reason, keep valuables away from prying eyes.

A special mention must be made of sub divided properties served by a communal street door. Fire safety requirements restrict the options for securing such doors. Secure locking systems are available, but very often, we encounter inadequate locks that are easily forced or slipped. Such locks are a false economy, as once inside, an offender may break into several flats unseen, often damaging several doors. You should consult a specialist local Locksmith on the best way to secure such properties. You can also speak with Police Crime Prevention staff.

The aim of preventive measures to help stop burglary is summed up by ‘the three D’s’.

  1. Deter an offender from making the burglary attempt. Proven deterrents include alarms, visibly good locks and participation in property marking or neighbourhood watch schemes.
  2. Delay him, slow him down, and make him struggle to get in. Doing so will increase the chances of him being spotted or giving up.
  3. Detect. Not always an obvious aim, but the fact is, the longer an offender takes to get in, or the more noise he is forced to make, the more likely he is to come to notice. He may also leave tool marks, or even blood, which will yield a DNA sample. Catching an offender in possession of identifiable or marked property is a great aid to detection too.