First tip: take out a good theft insurance policy (Top Home). However, it will only take effect after the damage is done. So our second recommendation is even more important: avoid anyone breaking in in the first place.
- A burglary can leave you feeling insecure and powerless for years to come.
- Insurance does not replace the full value of whatever is stolen.
- You may also lose items of sentimental value. No amount of financial compensation will make up for that.
Start from the principle that you can't leave anything to chance. Burglars operate just as much during the day as at night, whether you're there or not. They often get in at the back of the house and avoid contact with neighbours and occupiers as much as they can.
Three kinds of preventive action you can take
- Organisational measures designed to discourage burglars from taking an interest in your house: shutters, locks, visible signs of occupancy and marking your property are all ways of dissuading them.
- Architectural measures designed to make things harder for them: doors, gates, locks, windows, etc.
- Electronic measures, primarily involving more or less sophisticated alarm systems.
All these measures go hand in hand. A security lock, for example, is not much use if the door isn't locked.
Some organisational measures you can take
- Write your name, contact details or a symbol visibly on objects that are dear to you: marking is an acknowledged and effective way of quickly putting off potential burglars.
- Hide valuable items and keep as little money as possible in your home.
- Give the impression that your home is occupied when you're on holiday. Leave the radio playing, for example, or leave the lights on in one room. Ask your neighbours to pick up your post and keep an eye on your house. You might even think about telling the police you're away. Avoid leaving any specific messages about being away on your answering service or on websites.
- Do you own any weapons? Remember they could be used against you.
- Lock your garden shed to avoid burglars finding tools they could use to break in.
- Don't put your name or address on your key ring.
- If you lose your keys, get your locks changed immediately.
- Don't leave your car keys anywhere too obvious. Burglars look out for these at airports.
- Be aware of any unusual movements in your road, for example a car that keeps driving up and down slowly or passers-by paying a little too much attention to your house. Odd telephone calls are also worth taking seriously.
- Tall shrubs around your house protect your privacy but also allow potential burglars to "work" in peace.
- Never put your home address on your suitcases: burglars look out for these at airports. Either put the address of your holiday destination (on the way out) or of someone who's staying at home (on the way back).
In your car
- When you leave your car, remember to lock the doors and close the windows (and the sunroof if you have one) even if you're only going to be away for a moment.
- Never leave your vehicle with the keys on the dashboard or the engine still running.
- Put your car back in the garage (if you have one) as soon as you can. Lock the car and then lock the garage.
- Don't forget to activate any anti-theft devices your car has.
- Take your your car documentation with you.
- Leave the glove compartment open, so thieves can see there's nothing there to steal.
- Hide your car keys if you leave them at home.
- Never leave your spare car key or house keys in your car.