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Do Thieves Come Back A Second Time

4th October 2020

When I was a kid, many years ago, my grandad used to assure me that lightning never struck the same place twice. I explained to him time and time again that this was a myth, perpetuated by double-strike deniers, and that tall buildings are often hit multiple times within a matter of minutes. He wasn’t having any of it though, and repeatedly insisted that it was scientifically impossible. He wouldn’t even change his mind on his deathbed. Well, I say deathbed – it was more a golf bunker he was lying in after he’d been hit by lightning three times whilst waving a golf club above his head. All that was left of him was a charred 4 iron and fragments of burnt plus-fours. 

That story wasn’t true of course – my grandad didn’t even like golf, but the concept of lightning being able to strike twice in the same place works quite neatly as an analogy for today’s topic of burglars striking twice at the same property. Which is almost as traumatic an event as being struck by lightning twice. I imagine it is anyway – I’d have to ask my imaginary grandad to be sure. 

This topic came to mind whilst scanning a recent report about the frequency with which burglars return to the scene of their crimes. And if you think being burgled once is bad enough (which it very much is), then a second one in short succession more than doubles the trauma. Added to this is the fact a second burglary is likely to be costlier, given the burglars have already scoped out the place, are aware of where the valuables are kept, and now already know how to make a quick entrance and exit to your property, having already done so. 

A burglar is wholly responsible for their own crimes, and I’m not trying to victim-blame, but there is sometimes a dangerous mind-set amongst those who are burgled. They assume it was simply bad luck, and a one-off. However, research has proven this to be false. Burglars will rarely pick a house at random. Their target will have been chosen for various reasons, so assuming it was “just bad luck” would be a mistake. As would not immediately taking action to beef up your security to deter a second attempt – either by the same burglar, or by a different burglar targeting your house for similar reasons to the first. 

So, we know that burglars will often either target the same home twice, or even pass on information about your house to their partners in crime. But what can we do to avoid being one of these double-hit victims? 

In the immediate aftermath of a burglary, the police should of course be called before you even touch anything. Touching items will contaminate the crime scene and run the risk of destroying evidence that the police may need to try and track down those responsible. Try and make a list of anything that has been taken, so that this can be provided to the police – you will also need to provide a comprehensive list to your insurance company. The insurance company will be able to advise on how best to proceed with the repair of any damaged property too.

Check that the burglar hasn’t taken your house keys too. Sometimes burglars will take these on a first break-in when they are short of time or at risk of being disturbed, and then return at a later date, able to gain access without needing to force entry. If you find that keys are missing, you must immediately call a locksmith and get your locks changed. I can’t stress how important that is – in fact, if you take only one thing from this blog, make it that one. Get your locks changed. The same goes for any keys to outbuildings or if you have keys to other properties – check that all copies are still in your house and have not been taken. Make a check on car keys too, although to be honest, if the burglars have taken these, they will usually immediately take the car off the drive or road. 

As well as changing the locks, the aftermath of a break-in needs to be a wake-up call to see how vulnerable your house is to a further break in. This is the time to take advantage of your local locksmith (not like that!). Getting a professional in is well worth the expense, and some will provide free advice, especially if you’ve called them in anyway to get the locks changed. They will be able to give pointers on why your house was selected – perhaps the lack of an alarm system compared to neighbouring houses, or accessible windows left unlocked. Maybe many of your neighbours have CCTV cameras, and yours is conspicuous by its lack of these… it’s often a truism that you don’t need Fort Knox style protection, just as long as you have better security than your neighbours. Burglars are after an easy life and will always go the easy route. And whilst it might sound selfish, as long as your house is a harder target than the one further down the road, you don’t need me to tell you which house the burglar is more likely to target. 

Please do take heed of the advice above, and pay no attention to the philosophy of my imaginary granddad – you’ve heard what’s happened to him. Lightning CAN strike the same place multiple times, and houses can be targeted multiple times by burglars. Don’t be the lightning conductor for the neighbourhood. As ever, for any assistance at all with any lock or security-related matters, please call me on 07990573857

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