What the criminals don’t want you to know about protecting your home and your possessions

The Real Cost of Burglary

One of the easiest crimes to prevent — burglary — is also one of the most common. In the time it takes you to read just this article up to a dozen burglaries will have been committed against home owners somewhere in Australia. If it happens at your home, you lose more than a few possessions.

A break-in, even when you’re not there, has a major impact on you and your family’s sense of safety and well-being.

For most people, burglary is distressing. For some, it means the loss of precious possessions or items with sentimental value that can’t be replaced. For others, it means the loss that comes from being uninsured or under insured, or the inconvenience and time involved with making a claim and waiting while goods are replaced.

Many victims of burglary say that the biggest impact is the sense of violation – of someone invading their personal, private space, their home. It has nothing to do with material or financial loss, and it’s not the same thing as feeling insecure or vulnerable which also happens.

But burglaries don’t have to happen. There are a lot of things you can do to boost home security and make your house burglary-resistant.

What Do Burglars Look For?

A West Australian study into the minds of convicted home burglars was undertaken to understand their mindset and uncover the methods they use to gain entry. It produced some amazing information and provides a great insight into the things you should and shouldn’t do in and around your home.

Following is a summary of findings and the observations of the researchers:

  • Most burglaries are opportunistic. “We were very surprised at just how easy it was for them to get in.”
  • One of the most common strategies involved simply walking in through open doors and windows. “Sixty-six percent said they walked past a house, saw an open door or window; therefore they got in.”
  • “They looked for keys under mats, under the fake rocks by front doors, just inside the garage, and they had easy access to people’s accommodation.”
  • Thieves look for access points into the house or back garden, and fences were no deterrence. “We were again surprised when they said they quite liked the high walls and fences because it gave them somewhere to hide.”
  • Leaving lights and radios on late at night was a sure way to signal that no-one’s home. “Most people at night turn their lights off or just have a night light on. They called it the oldest trick in the book.”
  • On the other hand, a dog was a good way to move a burglar on to an easier target. “It didn’t have to be a guard dog or a big dog. It was a dog that attracts attention to their activities. “So a small yappy dog can be just as effective as having a Doberman in the back garden.
  • Most robberies take place during the day and where there’s little activity. Thieves are deterred by seeing people and neighbours, especially in the street.
  • Burglars are changing their strategies to take advantage of the digital age. Social media is being added to the burglar’s tool kit. Young people in particular are posting the exciting news about holidays. “Me and my friends, we’re all going” they post. It’s an advertisement that you’re not in your house.
  • Christmas is traditionally a time when robberies increase. “There’s a few things to be wary of here.” People like to show off their decorations, allowing a full view of the interior. “(People) see the goods under the tree and they see the purse on the kitchen bench.
  • “What was one of the surprises was that about 46 per cent said that if the door was open and they could see something they wanted and they were pretty sure they wouldn’t be detected, they would go in…even if someone was home.” The keyword is undetected. “So they’re not wanting to commit violent home robberies or break in.”
  • Christmas parties mean open doors for guests to come and go. “Particularly with people smoking outside and not inside.”
  • As well, people are not as vigilant about strangers, believing that they may be friends of friends. “That’s when they (the burglars) have been coming in and taking goods. If they think they can get into a house and mingle, then they would do that too.”