The good news is that burglary is not as common as it once was. At its height, in the mid 1990’s, there were over 1.7 million estimated incidents per year in the UK compared to a figure of approximately 0.7 million today.
The offence of burglary includes several elements but is generally understood to involve someone entering a building as a trespasser and stealing or attempting to steal property. This includes someone using a ‘trick’ such as posing as an official to enter a building (distraction burglary).
A burglary can take place in :-
Private properties e.g. houses, flats, static caravans, sheds, free standing garages, out houses.
Business premises e.g. offices, shops, hotels, warehouses, factories, pubs and clubs.
Educational establishment e.g. schools, colleges, sports centres.
Health organisations e.g. hospital premises, doctors surgeries, pharmacy and chemists.
Local Authority buildings e.g. council offices and associated premises.
Churches and places of worship.
Properties most at risk are those with inadequate or unused security measures. Over 20% of burglaries do not involve a forced entry, the offender simply gains entry through an unlocked door or an open window.
Households most at risk are those with student residents or other occupants between the ages of 16-24, closely followed by the unemployed and single parent families.
Domestic burglary can be particularly distressing. Most people are usually less concerned by the loss of their beloved television than the fact that their private space has been invaded. This is far more difficult to come to terms with and can have long lasting effects.
Don't make yourself an easy target
Making sure your home and property is secure is a mixture of commonsense and knowledge. You do not need to turn your home into a fortress to protect yourself and your property. A few simple precautions can be enough to deter most potential thieves. For instance, 20% of all burglaries that occur in Essex could have been prevented, if the occupier had made sure their doors and windows were secure.
Crime rates and Trends
The Burglary rate within Essex (Red Line) over this 3 year period tends to follow the National pattern.
The average yearly burglary rate, for Essex, over this 3 year period is identical to the National rate of 7.97.
Over a three year period to May 2015 recorded incidents of Burglary in Essex has fallen by 9.10% compared to a National fall of 8.20%.
When you are considering making your home less burglar friendly, you need to think like a opportunist thief. You are not going to deter them from being a potential criminal, you are just trying to make sure they go elsewhere.
Start by looking at your property from adjacent public areas, the road or footpath. Does it look cared for, is the paint peeling or is the garden a bit of a mess? If the front of your house looks weak then the back of your house will most probably be weaker. It tells a thief that if he can get round to the back of your home, he will probably be safe.
Is it obvious that you are a pet owner? A “beware of the dog” sign tells a thief that you probably don’t have an alarm and your back door will be open. Is it obvious that you have cats? In that case you will have a cat flap in the back door, an easy means to reach that key you always leave in the lock. What can you see through the windows? Are expensive item on show?
For the opportunist thief, first impressions make a big difference.
The message you want to get over is :-
So when do burglaries take place? 60% occur when someone is at home, 70% happen on weekdays and 60% occur in the evening or at night.
Who are the most likely offenders? 86% are male, with 84% being aged between 16 and 39. In 58% of cases only one offender is involved and is known by the victim, at least by sight, 52% of the time.
What is stolen? Money 41%, Electrical goods 30%. Computer equipment 36%, Jewellery 26%, Mobile phones 20%. These figures relate to offences in 2010, “hot” items in 2013 are smart phones, tablet computers and car keys.
Every dwelling is as individual as the people that live there. So any security measures need to be tailored to suit, your particular circumstances and life style. In an ideal world, everyone should have specific advice from a crime prevention officer but limited resources make this impossible.
However, all police forces have pages on their web site dedicated to home security and advice on how to reduce the risk of your home being burgled. The advice given is usually quite bland and uninspiring and tends to be a list of do’s and don’ts.
It is not possible to make your home 100% secure and even if it were few people would want to live there. It’s a balance between making your house as unattractive to a burglar as possible without compromising your own lifestyle.
A common method of entry for a burglar is via a back door or window, so securing the access to the rear of your home is particularly important.
The boundaries to a rear garden are your first line of defence. Imagine if you were attempting to gain entry to the rear of your home, where would be the best place for you to do it? Where are the weak points for a thief to gain access to your garden?
Although not recorded as burglary, theft from residential gardens can be equally as upsetting.
Front gardens provide less scope for security, as you would not normally want the area to be totally private and deny access to legitimate callers. You therefore have to rely on passers-by conforming to normal rules of behaviour and respecting your property.
One thing which you can do, is to ensure where possible, natural surveillance of the area is maintained. Plants and Shrubs should not be of such a size that your property is hidden from view.
The front of the house should be lit at night and areas under windows kept clear of items which a burglar might use to gain access.
Remember a potential offender does not follow normal rules of behaviour. Therefore, you should treat your front garden as being more public space than private and not leave tools, bikes and other items of value lying around unprotected.
Most people underestimate the value of the items they store in their sheds. .
Whilst a shed is not designed to withstand any form of determined attack, there are some simple measures you can take to make them more secure.
Marking valuable items with your postcode and house name/number makes them much less attractive to potential thieves as it makes them more difficult to sell on. It also increases the chances of your property being recovered and returned.
If you have been working in your garden ensure that you lock away tools such as spades or forks when you’re finished. Tools left out overnight could be used by an intruder to gain access to your property.
If buying new security hardware use "SoldSecure" products, if possible.
Secured by Design approved products do not guarantee that a particular item will be crime-proof. It does however indicate that the product has been subjected to rigorous testing and as such have been shown to significantly increase the security of that product. Products are classified as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Diamond indicating their robustness to a potential attack.
For thieves, conservatories are sometimes seen as a means of gaining easy access to your home. In reality, there is no reason why your conservatory should be any less secure than any other part of your home, provided you follow some simple guidelines.
Remember to lock your doors, even when you are in your
house. It takes only a minute or two to lose your property.
More than half of burglaries happen when people are at home.
Little point in having locks if your door and frame are in poor condition.
A lot of burglaries are committed by "fishing" for car keys etc. left in reach of the letter box or cat flap.
Don't open the door to unexpected callers, particular important for the more elderly and vulnerable.
If you have a Neighbourhood Watch scheme locally, join and display the window sticker. Houses in roads with active NHW schemes are 4 times less likely to be burgled and may save you money on your contents insurance.
Many burglaries occur by climbing through an open window. This occurs more often during the summer months, when the occupier is enjoying the sun in the back garden and the thief pops in through the front.
Any window that you can put your head through, when open, should have a lock fitted.
Fitting limiters to windows you may wish to open for ventilation prevents uninvited visitors.
With windows that are large enough to act as a fire exit, keep the key for any lock close to hand, but not visible from outside.
Insurance companies may not settle your claim for losses if there was no forced entry.