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Do Burglars Come Back A Second Time

4th October 2020

It’s a bit of a testing time recently (pun slightly intended) with the threat of a full blown second wave of Covid 19. This was anticipated by many virologists, and it got me thinking about statistics and probability. Because that’s just the sort of fun guy I am. 

Imagine for a minute that you had no knowledge of how viruses work and you were looking on from afar. You’d probably think it was mighty unlucky that after decades of no Coronavirus sweeping through the population, we then have two waves in the space of six months. “What were the chances of that?” you might think. This would be because you’re treating the two waves as mutually exclusive events – like rolling a fair dice to get a 6, and then rolling it again to try and do the same. The outcome of the first roll will not affect the outcome of the second – this is the case for most instances of luck such as winning the lottery, tossing a coin etc. 

However, the virologists know that Covid does not play by these rules. The very fact the first wave has occurred makes a second wave much more likely. It’s similar to how a whack on a recently-broken leg will be more likely to cause another broken leg, than the same whack if it had never been broken in the first place – the first instance affects the outcome of the second.

“Get to the point,” I hear you saying, and here it is. The same goes for houses that have a break-in. They are then more likely to be the victim of a second burglary and I’ll briefly look at why. It’s not a case of pure bad luck, which is how we often try to brush off a burglary, in an attempt to deal with the trauma. And trauma is the word – a burglary is not a pleasant experience at all. But by passing it off as bad luck and going about things just how you did before increases the risk of further trauma caused by a second break in. 

A second burglary may also be more costly to the householder, especially if it is the same burglar carrying out the crime. On first visit they will have scanned the valuables in the house and perhaps made note of what to come back for later, when they have more time. They will also be more familiar with the layout of your house, knowing the entrances, exits and any alarm system in use, and this will give them more confidence on a second visit. 

It will not only be familiarity that will bring back a burglar. The same thing that attracted them to your house in the first place will also attract them or others back to the scene of the crime. Especially if no changes are made to the home security in the aftermath. This isn’t to blame householders for burglaries – it’s always the burglar who’s at fault – but merely an explanation as to why specific houses are targeted. Houses are not randomly picked – there is always a reason for them being picked out. 

We know the problem, but what action can we take immediately following a break-in in order to reduce the risk of us being a repeat victim of the burglars? Naturally, the police should be your first port of call, and until they arrive, do resist the urge to touch anything. I won’t pretend that burglars are always caught, but preserving evidence until the police arrive will at least give them the best possible chance of being able to catch and convict the culprit further down the line. Make a note of anything that is missing so you can inform the police of this. They will give you a crime number and you should make note of this and pass it, as well as the list of missing belongings on to your insurance company. Ringing the insurance company is important, not only for logging that you’ll be making a claim soon, but they may also give advice on how to go about making any repairs that are needed. 

You also need to make sure there are no sets of house keys missing. Often, burglars will make off with these on a brief first visit, and they are then able to return and let themselves in with no effort. If you suspect any sets of keys are missing, it is imperative that you immediately get your locks changed, and this is where your local locksmith comes in. Call them as soon as you can, explain the situation, and that it’s a priority to get the locks changed. It is the main thing you can do to protect yourself – it’ll stop the easiest of return visits by the burglar, and give you better peace of mind. Check that keys to your garage or shed or any other buildings have also not been taken, and if they have, you will need to get these locks changed too. 

Changing the locks will prevent a return burglar simply walking back in. However, there is still the question of why the burglar chose your house in the first place. And this will still be apparent to all other burglars in the locality. If you have a locksmith in to change locks, now would be a perfect time to ask them for a review of the security of your house. They will be able to advise you as to the reasons you house was targeted ahead of neighbouring houses. Maybe it was accessible windows, valuables left on display, a lack of alarm system or CCTV, or outdated locks no longer fit for purpose. It’s a bit mercenary, but the main priority when protecting your house is to make it less appealing to a burglar than your neighbours. Burglars aren’t in this for the challenges of overcoming alarm systems, dodging CCTV and tackling robust locks. They’d much rather choose the house with no alarm, no security lighting, and snappable locks or open windows. And if that house has already been targeted a few weeks earlier, well sobeit. 

As we try and cope with the second wave of this dreadful virus, do remember that statistical difference between events that do affect future events and those that don’t. Like a virus, a burglary is one of those that does, and should you be unfortunate enough to fall victim, remember that lightning does strike twice, and you don’t want to be the one standing in the field waving a metal stick above your head! Make your house less susceptible to a repeat visit from burglars. For any assistance with any lock or security-related matters, please call me on 07990573857



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