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Increase In Burglary

2nd August 2020

There haven’t been many advantages to lockdown. I guess it’s been a time where you can catch up with box sets, save a bit of money on petrol and eating out, and get to know which member of your close family annoys you the most. But apart from that it’s slim pickings. As opposed to Slim Pickens, who you may have seen if you’ve also been catching up on films from the 50s and 60s. 

However, one advantage has been the reduction in burglaries. The reason for this is pretty obvious – most burglars target properties that are empty, and during the past 4 or 5 months, houses have rarely been left unoccupied, save for those of key workers who live alone or with other key workers. 

That is now changing though and the police have warned that they are expecting a surge in burglaries as lockdown eases and people begin getting back to work. I should emphasise that’s the police who are giving that warning and not The Police, as I don’t want to put words in the mouths of Sting, Gordon Sumner et al. I can’t claim to know their feelings about predicted crime rates, although they did seem to predict the COVID quarantine a good 40 years ago with their hit Don’t Stand So Close to Me so maybe it’s worth asking them. 

Given that more of us will be leaving our houses empty for longer periods of time in the upcoming months, and also given the fact that burglars will have some catching up to do after their fallow months (do burglars get to go on furlough.. who knows?), I’ve put together a a Barnsley Locksmith s a few more tips to help you keep your property safe through the summer.

Whilst the rest of the tips will be geared around preventing burglaries, I must first mention the subject of insurance. Whatever precautions we take, we cannot totally eliminate the risk of a break in. This is where home and contents insurance come in. We’ll still have to deal with the upset of a break in and the hassle this entails, but with a decent insurance policy at least we shouldn’t end up much out of pocket. However, this is dependent on having the correct insurance. So before you go back to work, it’s worth checking your policy to check it’s sufficient for your needs. 

Most people underestimate the value of their contents – the average value is £35,000 – and therefore are not fully reimbursed in the event of a burglary (or, even worse, if the building is destroyed by fire etc). Some companies insist on any valuable items being listed separately – this is usually things like bicycles, jewellery, or any expensive technology; if this is the case ensure this is done, as you don’t want to give the company an excuse to welch on a pay-out. When you take out insurance, ensure you’ve informed the company about which locks and alarm systems you have in place – some firms will insist on a minimum standard – and don’t be tempted to lie in an attempt to reduce your premium, as the few pounds you save could well be outweighed by the thousands you lose if the insurance company finds you’ve misrepresented your security measures in the event of a claim. Most importantly, ensure you use the locks and set the alarms you have fitted – again this is often a condition of insurance. 

Moving onto the property itself, take this opportunity to check you have decent locks on all your doors. We focus on the front door, but don’t forget locks on garages, sheds etc. And I do emphasise they should be “decent” locks.  The Master Locksmith Association (MLA) recently reported on the abundance of cheap knock-off locks that are on the market and that simply are not up to the job. When it comes to security, I would suggest you go for a properly fitted named lock such as Yale, Chubb or Ultion, and avoid the more obscure copies that can be found on ebay – they often don’t stand up to any pressure. Check any locks comply with standards including the all-important BSI Kitemark.  As well as doors, do check that all windows have locks too, and if in shared accommodation, try to get together with your neighbours to ensure that external shared doors are always properly locked too. 

Something that can be done with no expense is to be vigilant about not leaving valuables on display. I’m reluctant to victim-blame here, but leaving high value goods by a window or a transparent door does really increase the risk of falling foul to a casual burglar. This goes for car or house keys too – don’t leave them where they can be easily reached through a window, or hooked through a letterbox, giving a burglar easy access to your house or car.  Even better, invest in a lockable key box as a place to keep all keys secure when they are not in use. 

We’re living in a technological age, and this is providing many new nifty devices that can be used to assist with home security. You’ll have seen the adverts on the television for the smart doorbells whereby you can see who’s on your doorstep, even when you’re away from home, and you can even answer through an intercom. Smart technology extends to light bulbs and locks, all which can be activated remotely via your mobile phone or tablet. Bulbs can be used to give the impression you are at home, as long as the routine is varied, and the locks can be used to let someone trusted into the house, or to prevent an unwanted visitor gaining access. 

The advances of technology have also meant a reduction in price so that products that were previously unaffordable are now available at much more of a budget price. This goes for burglar alarms and security camera systems – if you do a search for the latter, you can find decent systems at a much lower price than you may expect. It’s okay investing in the technology, but do also ensure you test the equipment, especially after an extended period of it not being used such as the current lockdown. A working burglar alarm and camera system is a real deterrent to any would-be burglar.

Gardens come into their own during the summer, but they can also prove a temptation to burglars. Furniture, tools, toys, as well as sheds and garages are all targets. Thieves can also take advantage of bushes etc in the garden to keep themselves in the shadows (not the Hank Marvin kind) whilst they prepare their next move. Keep shrubs and trees clipped back to eliminate hiding places in shady areas for thieves. Planting prickly shrubs round the perimeter of your property will deter intruders, as well as spikes or anti-burglary paint on the top of fences, gates and walls. At night keep all items locked away, and this especially goes for ladders which would be a big help for any would-be house breaker. 

I hope we can all get out more as lockdown eases (touch wood that we avoid a severe second wave), and even going back to the office might be a bit of a refreshing change for a while. However, don’t forget to keep your property safe – it may not have been left empty for a while, so you could have got out of the good habits of security, and a refresher never hurts. For any other locksmith Barnsley or security-related query, call me on 07990573857.

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