Being burgled is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. But sometimes we do not help ourselves, a survey of ex-cons has found. Insurance firm More Than quizzed 50 former thieves about their tricks of the trade. One reformed burglar tells how thieves even use Twitter and Facebook to plan break-ins.
In the old days, burglars would pay a dodgy milkman or paper boy for information about when a homeowner would be out or on holiday – but technology has moved on since then.
Now canny burglars are using Facebook and Twitter to size up homes to steal from.
I’ve seen lots of people who post a status update about being excited that there’re going away on holiday. But if you have 900 Facebook friends, how many do you really know?
You might recognise their name from school but do you also know all their friends who could also see your updates? People put all kinds of information on Facebook including their address and mobile number. A burglar just has to call your mobile and if there’s an international ringtone they know your away.
These days everyone is Twitter-mad, I use it myself. But putting information that anyone can see on the Internet leaves you vulnerable to a break in.
The More Than survey showed that burglars will look anywhere for valuables. Bedroom drawers are the top choice with 34 per cent, while 12 per cent would look in a wardrobe and 4 per cent would look in a fridge.
Burglars will check anything that opens, so even if you think you are being crafty by squirrelling valuables in the fridge, the thieves are on to you. Which is why the contents of cupboards, drawers and even the fridge will be everywhere after your home has been broken in to. Burglars look in the most obvious places, so don’t think hiding valuables there will work either. It’s best to think about preventative measures like window locks, grilles or a safe. A dog is great for putting off burglars, as 86 per cent of those surveyed agreed it would either have an impact in stopping theft or would definitely stop it.
Good neighbours are also essential, as 70 per cent of thieves believe the people next door would call police if they spotted a break-in. But bear in mind the survey shows the average burglary takes just 2 to 5 minutes.
At that speed, the thief would be gone when the police arrived. This really does prove that the importance of home security cannot be overlooked. Here are some simple things to do and check for before leaving your home: Make sure all windows are closed and locked with a key operated lock and all keys are out of sight. All back doors to be fully locked, by lifting the handle and rotating the key to fully lock the door, if it’s a PVCU door or if it’s wooden door there should be a 5 lever British standard lock (conforming to BS3621) and 2 key operated bolts, 4 bolts if they are double doors or French windows, all locked with the key and all keys should be out of sight.
When leaving your home make sure you lift the handle and rotate the key to fully lock the door, if it’s a PVCU door or if it’s a wooden door you should have on the lower 3rd of the door a 5 lever British standard lock (conforming to BS3621) which has to be locked when your home is empty. If you do not have a 5 lever BS3621 deadlock on your house or flat door you may not be insured, check this immediately with your insurance company.
If you are going away for the weekend or on holiday:
Cancel milk and paper deliveries, and if you trust your neighbour enough to leave them with a spare key ask them to take your post in. Use a timer on a light in 1 or more rooms to come on at certain times to make it look like the house isn’t unoccupied. We also recommend doing this in winter when it starts getting dark earlier. Talking of winter be wary of throwing out packaging for new Christmas presents for rubbish or recycling. This only advertises that you have goods to steal.