A few tips to keeping a burglar guessing. The modus operandi of the professional burglar goes like this.
- Case an area looking for a soft target. Preferably a single floor dwelling (easier to exit from fast) with high fences or shrubs obscuring visibility by neighbours. Pick a target and park a block away. Often stolen plates will be on the getaway car.
- Walk up to the front door and ring the bell. Someone answers? Pretend you are looking for a different address, are lost, are selling something etc. If you ever have someone do this to you, take your phone out and take a photo of them. Don’t worry if they see you doing it. Explain that there have been some burglaries in the area and neighbourhood watch has advised home owners to photograph any new faces in the area.
- No answer at the front door? Good chance your burglar is going to go around the back and kick in the back door. No subtlety required, no picking of locks. Locks will keep out the casual intruder, but the reality is you need a solid security door to keep a professional out. If you are ever considering security doors, remember putting one on the BACK door is more of a priority than putting one on the front. If backdoor access is difficult, they will look for a window, or an easy to damage garage door.
- Once inside get it done quickly. It’s likely your burglar will spend no more than 10 minutes ransacking your home, looking for high value small electronic devices, phones, pads, laptops, games consoles and games, cash and jewellery. The large screen TV is not usually at risk, having one visible from the front room of your home is a magnet to thieves however, as it lets them know you have money.
They generally won’t go up or down stairs, as this leaves them at risk of not being able to make a quick exit if disturbed. Even though 2 storey homes indicate wealth professional burglars tend to avoid them as the master bedroom (where the jewellery often is) is usually on the 2nd floor.
Solid doors, quality locks, security doors and windows can all help… but what else can you do?
- Get a beware of the dog sign. If you don’t have a dog, make it more credible, with some chewed up dog toys in the back yard. Don’t bother with a doorbell that makes a cheesy barking noise… that’s a dead giveaway you don’t have a dog. Best way of making it look like you have a dog? Get a dog. A small, yappy one is as good as a Rottweiler.
- Install a security camera. Do it properly. A burglar can spot a fake on a mile off. Thos plastic numbers with the flashing red light that look like children’s toys? They don’t fool anyone, let alone a professional. The security camera must be set up to capture people coming to your front door, not just down the back or side as when the burglar presses your doorbell he won’t be wearing a balaclava…but when he goes down the back to break in he will likely have put it on.
- Consider a home alarm, one that will go off if a window is broken. Make sure it’s maintained. If it keeps going off accidentally week after week, your neighbours will ignore the real thing… some might in fact be hoping you are getting burgled!
- Have a decoy Jewellery box. If your burglar thinks he has hit the big time finding your expensive jewellery he is likely to make a fast exit. Have a jewellery box filled with seemingly quality, gold plated jewellery on the dresser but keep the real McCoy well hidden preferably in a safe. (Speak to us about home safes)
- Don’t sell large ticket items from your home.Got a new stereo system? Selling the old one? Sell it on Ebay. Don’t advertise you have a large ticket electronic item for sale and the money to buy nice fancy things… and then let people into your home to check the place out for easy points of entry.
- Secure that Garage Door. Older remote controlled garage doors have detectable signals. Professional burglars have been known to walk up and down streets with a garage door signal detector recording the doors they can easily open. Then they return, press doorbells till they find an empty home with a known non secure remote controlled garage door and in they go. You arrive home, things are missing with no evidence of a break in.Best to upgrade old garage doors and If you are going away for an extended period get a locksmith to install a deadbolt on the inside.
- Going away? Cancel everything. Make it look like you are at home. All deliveries. Redirect all mail to a PO Box, or get a friend to pick it up. Junk mail stuffed in a door slot is good indication you are away so make sure you have a “No Junk Mail” sign. Junk mail delivery people usually respect this sign, but not always so make sure someone is checking your house. Random timers for lights and TVs is a good idea, as is getting someone to come around and mow your lawn, or even to park a car in the driveway. Got some old shoes? Leave them out the front. Don’t get too smart and leave something like an old children’s bike on the front yard. If its sits there for a fortnight… someone will notice.
- Install deadlocks, front and back, and window locks. You won’t keep out the most determined of burglars, but the harder you make it, the more likely they are to hit a softer target. Also, they keep insurers happy. Oh. And use them. The locks that is. An unlocked deadlock is no good!
Do most of these things, and chances are burglars will see your home as being in the too hard basket and your property will be safe.