Burglary prevention

How to avoid being burgled

This advice on preventing burglaries comes from the Metropolitan Police.

The best way to protect your house from a burglar is to think like a burglar.

How does a burglar's mind work?


Burglary on the whole is an opportunist crime. A house will be selected if it offers the fewest number of obstacles to carry out the crime undetected.

An unoccupied and insecure building is far more likely to be targeted than one which is properly secure. If you can take measures that tell the burglar that this building is too difficult or too risky a target‚ he will hopefully move on.

Signs of an unoccupied building

  • Milk bottles or parcels on the doorstep
  • Newspapers and mail in the letter box
  • Unlit house after dark
  • All windows shut in very hot weather

Signs of an insecure building

  • Side gates open
  • Accessible windows open
  • Ladders left out‚ allowing access to otherwise inaccessible windows
  • Garden tools available to force entry
  • Untrimmed hedges or high fences preventing natural surveillance

The signs above could make the burglar want to take a second look. If you live in a multi-occupancy dwelling‚ be careful to who you allow entry through an entry phone system and be wary of people seeking to "tailgate" you into the building.

Don't leave a thief the key to your house

  • Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front door - burglars know all the hiding places
  • Prevent letterbox burglaries by storing keys away from the font door
  • Do not label your house keys in case you loose them and they fall into the wrong hands
  • Where possible‚ try to keep valuables out of sight from windows and fit a security light over your front door so there is no place to hide

How to make your house look occupied

  • Install timers which switch lights or radios on and off automatically
  • Have a neighbour or friend pop round to clear your letter box or doorstep
  • Encourage a neighbour to park on your drive If you are going out after dark‚ draw the curtains‚ leave some lights on and a radio playing

If you are away for extended periods

  • Cancel the delivery of milk and newspapers
  • Disconnect the answering machine‚ or re- word your greeting message to give the impression that you are only temporarily unable to answer
  • Get a neighbour‚ friend or relative to keep a regular eye on your property and keep the front door clear of deliveries
  • If you are prepared to leave a key with a willing neighbour/relative‚ ask for curtains to be drawn and lights to be put on at night: if snow is on the ground‚ a few footprints will make the house appear inhabited
  • Check your insurance policy: some insurance policies for contents don't cover you if you are away for more than 30 days
  • Set your burglar alarm
  • If you do not have an alarm‚ consider investing in a dummy alarm box


Source: opens link in new window opens link in new window Metropolitan Police, November 2009.

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