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What burglars look for

25th August 2016

*taps on screen* Is this thing on? Ah, yes, sorry about that, I got a bit distracted watching Bradley Wiggins winning gold. And then Laura Trott winning two golds. And then Jason Kenny winning two golds. And then Mo Farah winning two go... well, you get the idea, I’ve been watching the Olympics. And now there’s something of a comedown as our TV schedules get back to their dreary normality of soaps, reality TV, and the latest depressing news from around the world. But anyway, let’s try and remain positive – after all, you’ve got a free blog to read now so what more could you possibly want? (Don’t answer that, it was purely rhetorical). 

So, the blog in question – I just thought I’d note down some tips on how to not make a burglar’s job easy for them should the worst happens and they choose to try and break in to your house. The BBC’s Crimewatch programme recently carried out a survey , asking  burglars what makes their life easier when going about their “business”.  I’ve taken a couple of these top answers and elaborated on them below.

Leaving keys outside

Top of the list concerns the storage of spare keys. When these are left lying about in obvious places, it’s no longer a fair fight – the burglar isn’t even required to make any effort to gain access. So many burglaries happen this way without even the need for a forced entry. For the burglar this negates the risk of being spotted whilst trying to snap or pick a lock, or smashing a window, and they’re in your house within a matter of seconds without anyone noticing. 

Despite this, over three in ten of us leave a key about our property, presumably thinking that our hiding place of under a plant pot, doormat, stone, or just inside the letterbox will never be discovered by anyone with nefarious intentions. Sadly, this is not the case, and often these will be the first places the burglar looks, just in case the householder has saved him the hassle of having to go to the trouble of finding a way in. Of course there are reasons why we may wish to stash a spare key somewhere, but consider leaving it with a trusted neighbour, or alternatively invest in a sturdy exterior keysafe, which can only be accessed with a PIN code. Anything but hiding it under a flower pot! Else you could be stripped of your belongings quicker than a London 2012 Russian drug cheat is stripped of their medal (sorry, sorry, I’m still not over the Olympics yet). 

Valuable items left on view

Burglars will pinch all sorts, but one thing you rarely see is a burglar making off with a washing machine or cooker. Even a 40 inch TV is rarely a target for an opportunistic burglar. The simple reason for this is size. Trying to make off with an 80 kilo fridge freezer under your arm is not really conducive to a quick getaway.  Hence why burglars will target items that are a) small, and b) valuable. Put a and b together, and you have the optimum targets – jewellery, mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cash... these are a burglar’s bread and butter. (Note – burglars rarely steal bread and butter as its resale value is next to nothing). As such, we should take great care over anything small and valuable (stop snickering there at the back and take your minds out of the gutter). Lock your jewellery and cash away in a secure safe, and keep laptops, phones, not to mention car keys hidden away to avoid temptation. To put it in stark terms, if a burglar is going to steal your items, don’t just give them away, at least make it difficult for them to be stolen – then there’s far more chance that the burglar will give up and move on to the next target.  Ah, “target”, that reminds me of the archery.. ...did I mention the Olympics? 

Easy access

The layout of your property can also help a burglar. Householders often erect fences, and grow high hedges, thinking this will deter break-ins. This can actually be counterintuitive – these same hedges and fences can give refuge to the burglar, preventing their attempts at entry from being spotted by neighbours. Fences and gates can help, but only if you can still see through them from the outside – otherwise they are more of an aid to the burglar than the householder. Look at the possible hiding places you have around your property, perhaps think about security lights so that any prospective burglar cannot enjoy the cloak of darkness. And of course, keep ladders and tools locked away as these can easily be used to assist any break in attempts. Also, if you have a pole hanging around, make sure that’s well hidden too – those pole vaulters can clear a VERY high distance. (I’ll be Olympicked out soon, don’t worry)

Right, hope those tips have helped. I’m off to fashion a medal podium out of three cardboard boxes as part of my preparation for Tokyo 2020. I’m hopeful that professional locksmithery will be an event by then. After all, if golf counts, then anything’s possible.

Faster, higher, stronger!

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