Domestic burglary is a horrible crime, and one that is hard to fully understand unless it has happened to you or to a close loved one. The lasting effects of being burgled can be difficult to cope with, and although the loss of valuables is clearly very upsetting, it’s the invasion of privacy and the sudden feeling of not being safe in your own home that can be the worst part of what is already a stressful ordeal.
Burglary can impact your household for weeks after the event, and the psychological effects – for both those who live alone and with others - can require professional help. A report from Victim Support states that 70% of victims were very distressed following a burglary, 40% were afraid to be alone in their home after the incident took place, and 6% experienced acute symptoms of emotional trauma, such as trembling, severe shock and uncontrollable weeping. Burglaries can also affect children living in the home, with 27% having trouble sleeping and 11% showing lower performance at school after the event. What’s more, these after-effects of burglary can haunt children into adulthood; with 35% preferring to sleep with a light on, even years later.
Unfortunately, break-ins tend to rise during this time of year, when the leaves begin to fall and the nights start to draw in. If you haven’t considered your home security in a while, or if you have recently become a victim of intruders in your home, it’s worth learning the facts and taking steps to make your home undesirable to thieves. Read on to find out more.
Understanding how and why burglars operate is a good place to start when considering your own home security. There are many clues hidden in the facts which can prompt you to make small but effective changes. This, in turn, can make your home appear undesirable to potential thieves.
We know that this time of year sees a rise in burglaries due to the darker evenings, but there is also a peak time to look out for. Bonfire night is the worst time for home burglaries, with 21% more offences happening on this day, compared to the average. If you’re going out to a fireworks event, take extra steps to ensure your home looks occupied, and ensure you have locked all windows and doors.
According to the Office of National Statistics (who have used data collected over the last decade), burglary offenders enter homes through a door 70% of the time, and through a window around 30% of the time. Ensuring your doors and windows are fit for purpose is a good place to start. Pay close attention to any doors at the side and rear of your home, which may not be as visible from the street, and may not be as secure as your front door.
Know what they steal
The most commonly-stolen items during burglaries are purses, wallets, money, jewellery, watches and electronic equipment. Burglars have also been known to take car keys and then drive off with the victim’s vehicle. Keep this in mind when deciding where these items live in your home.
Do not leave car keys too close to the front door, as these can be hooked through the letterbox, or quickly taken in a ‘smash-and-grab’ style offense. Keep all valuables out of sight of windows and your letterbox, and keep jewellery, watches and cash in a safe if possible. Electronic items can be marked with security ink to increase the likelihood of the perpetrator being caught, or at least the items finding their way back to you.
Approximately 40% of burglaries take place in
the day, between 6am and 6pm, while 60% of burglaries take place in the night,
between 6pm and 6am. Burglars tend to target empty homes, and it’s easier to
see if someone is inside when it’s dark outside. The lack of lights, television
or radio noises can alert potential thieves to your absence. With this in mind,
it’s wise to leave a light on, and some also prefer to leave a radio on when
they leave the house. You can set these up with a timer switch if you’re
worried about forgetting.
· You may be pruning back trees or bushes at this time of year, so make sure no garden tools or ladders are left in your garden overnight. Lock them into a shed or outbuilding, so they cannot be used by burglars to get into your home.
· If you’re leaving a light on to make it look as though someone is home, ensure no valuables can be seen from the windows or letterbox. Close the curtains or blinds – it will still be obvious that a light is on, and your home will still have privacy.
· Be aware that when the clocks change in October, it will start getting dark an hour earlier. Make sure you change any timer switches so that lights come on at the right time.
· Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme, or simply talk to your neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on your property in return for you doing the same for them. Get to know your neighbours if you can – it will help you to identify strangers in the neighbourhood and will ensure any important information gets to you quickly.
Those who want a more reliable and robust security plan for their home may consider an alarm and/or cameras to protect their property. Installing a home security system can help you to prevent anything from being stolen, and may also help the police to catch the offender. Sadly, just 6.9%of burglaries result in a conviction, leaving 93.1% unsolved. We’ll be looking at home security systems in more detail in our next article, where you can discover some fantastic new technologies for keeping your home and your family safe.
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