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A Burglars Own Security Tips

8th May 2022

Happy May to you all, I hope you enjoyed your Easter. I took advantage of a few days off to get some film viewing done. One of which was Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, To Catch a Thief, starring the impossibly glamorous Grace Kelly and equally handsome Cary Grant. Set in the beautiful French Riviera, a series of daring robberies take place with expensive jewellery being stolen. Suspicion falls on Grant due to his past as a cat-burglar. Without giving away the ending, he has to use skills and knowledge from his own criminal past to try and foil the new thief, thus proving his own innocence. 

I’m not just telling you about this due to it being a wonderful film (although it is, so do check it out if you haven’t seen it), nor am I bringing it up because of my striking resemblance to Mr Grant (shush you), but rather because it ties in with something else I happened across this week. I read a newspaper article about an ex-burglar, let’s call him Darryl, because that was his name, who now spends his time advising householders how to avoid being burgled. There isn’t anything new about this tactic of course – in the past it used to be that poachers were once recruited to become gamekeepers as they knew their own tactics the best, and more recently firms like Microsoft and anti-virus software companies use ex-hackers to test their products to the limit. The rationale is the same – who better to protect your land or product than the very person whose job it used to be to break in and thus knows all the tricks of the trade. 

Now whilst I keep up to date with all the latest goings-on in the locksmith trade, and pride myself on over 30 years of experience in the industry (on the right side of the law, I hasten to add), I’m not too proud to realise I could also learn something from someone who’s been on the other side of the law for a similar length of time, and has first-hand experience of breaking and entering. This Darryl fella has now put his years of burglary behind him but still has the knowledge garnered from decades of house-breaking, and so I was interested in what he had to say. I’ve picked 3 tips from his repertoire that I think might be useful. 

Firstly, CCTV, and this is something I’ve recommended in the past if it is within your budget. What I found interesting about Darryl’s comments though, was about how if one house had CCTV covering their own house and garden, this wasn’t always a massive deterrent as Darryl knew if he was burgling the house anyway, he could also pick up the hard drive of the CCTV unit and take the footage away with him (admittedly this doesn’t include those systems that save footage to “the cloud”). However, what would definitely put him off was if several houses had CCTV and their cameras covered each other’s properties as well as their own. Darryl wasn’t about to break into every house in the neighbourhood to steal their hard drives, and often the fact that he would be caught on several cameras meant he would move on to a different area. So if you get on with your neighbours and have or are thinking about getting CCTV, it’s worth co-ordinating with them so that the areas covered overlap. As a side note, you should aways check with neighbours anyway before installing CCTV if there’s a chance it will cover any of their property or else you may fall foul of privacy laws and data protection regulations. 

The second suggestion I want to pick out is one about locks on internal doors. I’ve banged on until the cows come home about properly securing external doors, but never really focussed on the internal ones. Darryl makes the good point that burglars often enter the property via the kitchen or living room, through windows or round the back of the house. He suggests fixing bolts to these doors that can only be bolted from outside the room – hence from the hallway. This means that even if a burglar gets into your house, they are limited in the rooms they can access without having to kick down a door, an action which is not on their wish-list purely for the sound it will make, and anyone upstairs can quickly be calling the emergency services for help. I should emphasise that if you do hear a burglary taking place, the very first thing you should do is call the police rather than go down to tackle the intruder. They may be carrying a knife or worse, and although most burglars run away when disturbed, some may stay and fight. Remember that possessions can be replaced but human lives are far more precious, please stay safe. 

The final observation I took from Darryl’s article was one I’m still not sure about. He says that as a burglar he would never go into children’s bedrooms because valuables are rarely kept there, and if children wake up and make a noise, that’s a problem he could do without. If he was targeting the bedrooms, it would always be the master bedroom where he was more likely to find jewellery or other valuable items. As such, he recommends hiding any valuables in kids’ bedrooms. However, by broadcasting this in a newspaper with a large circulation, he may now have given burglars ideas. And I’m not sure how parents would feel about putting their children at potential added risk by following this suggestion. It’s one I’m still musing about, but worth knowing the rooms that burglars tend to avoid – it’s obvious thinking about it really, as burglars don’t enter houses with the express target of stealing children’s clothes or toys. 

Whilst none of the tips come from the police or security associations and so perhaps should be treated with a pinch of salt, I did think it was interesting to get an opinion from the other side of the home security fence, as it were. Loath as I am to thank a burglar for advice, especially given I know personally what trauma they cause, I think we can cautiously get onside with a burglar who has repented and rehabilitated themselves, and now wants to help people protect their home against break-ins

That’s enough for me now. I’m off to check when the next Bank Holiday is so I can catch up with more Hitchcock films for inspiration for future blogs. For advice on anything lock-related, or to enquire about repairs or replacements, call 017990573857

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