You might think that your property was chosen by a burglar at random, but that is not the case. If you’ve seen any burglary or heist movie, you’d know how much time and planning goes into the crime.
Burglars are smarter than you would think and do their research well in advance before targeting a house. This can be anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks.
“Casing a house” is a common term used to describe the tactic burglars use to target a property. They take a close look at the house to gather any important information that might help them break in easily.
There are certain things that burglars look for in particular when casing a house. They look for cash and special items that they can sell for large sums of money which includes jewellery, electronics, gadgets, and medications.
Once they know there are things of value inside, they look for ease of access through the doors and windows. This is done by checking if you lock them, and if you do, that they are easily breakable.
Security systems such as burglar alarms and CCTV cameras make breaking in without being noticed next to impossible, which is why burglars case the property for such security measures and stay away from the ones that have them installed.
Burglars also keep a check on your schedule and daily routine to know what time you leave the house unattended. This includes your work hours and when the kids are off to school.
Many would believe that burglars mostly break-in during the night, as depicted in most movies, but in actuality, the best time for them is during the day when the house isn’t occupied.
Read these key facts and statistics on burglaries throughout the UK to understand how these criminals’ minds work.
Now that you know how burglars target a house and what they look for, how can you tell if a burglar is watching your house? Read on to find out.
HOW TO TELL IF A BURGLAR IS WATCHING YOUR HOUSE
The best way to protect your house from burglars is by being informed and vigilant. You must keep an eye on certain signs that indicate your house being cased for a potential crime.
If you notice any such unusual activity around your premises, inform the authorities right away.
Unknown vehicles on the street
Burglars are most likely to scope out a property in a car which will either belong to them or a family member or might even be stolen.
If you notice an unknown car parked near your home, and you know that it doesn’t belong to anyone in the neighbourhood, it could indicate that someone is watching you and your property.
Take note of any patterns and if you see someone sitting inside, approach them with caution. It is best to note down the vehicle number and inform the police to handle the situation.
Strangers walking around the neighbourhood
People living in the same neighbourhood are generally familiar with one another, therefore, if you see an unfamiliar face doing the rounds, know that it’s time to be extra careful and cautious.
A potential burglar is likely to innocently walk around or pretend to jog in the area to scope the property. They will look for excuses to stay nearby to gather the information they are looking for.
If you notice this type of repetitive suspicious behaviour, be sure to have a good look at the individual, taking special note of their appearance. Inform the police and take all the neighbours on board since this is also not safe for them and the children playing out on the street.
Knocking on doors pretending to offer services
Knocking on doors is the most common way to find out if a house is empty. Burglars dress up as salespeople or handymen to get an excuse to talk to homeowners scoping the property in the process.
They may offer services such as free carpet cleaning or roof repairs, and if granted access, gain valuable information such as the number of entry points, the occupants of the house, the presence of a dog or security system, and any valuables lying around.
While some individuals might be legitimate salespeople and handymen, you must do a background check before letting anyone inside your house. If you’re unsure about the person, you are under no obligation to let them in.
Faking emergencies to gain access
What would you do if someone knocked on your door and told you they needed help? Naturally, you’d help them and burglars know that.
Burglars sometimes even fake emergencies and excuses such as their car breaking down or them being in an accident to get inside your house. They do this to get an idea of the layout. They might even just knock for something as little as a glass of water.
It’s a great thing to help others, but not at the expense of your safety. Once inside, many burglars will even unlock a door or window for them to sneak in later.
Taking a picture of your house and nearby areas
A stranger taking a picture of your house is never a good sign. Come to think of it, what business do they have taking a picture of your property? Obviously, something bad.
These days almost everyone has a smartphone on them which makes taking pictures even easier. It’s just a single tap away. Burglars take pictures of your house to share them with their partners/associates or to save your house for future crimes.
If you notice someone doing that, especially taking pictures from different angles and also of the nearby areas, it’s definitely a red flag and cause for concern.
Leaving flyers at the door
Flyers lying around might seem harmless at first but they might have a deeper meaning and purpose. Burglars have unusual ways of communicating with each other and one such way is by using flyers.
They are used as markers to show which house is a likely target and are also used to determine which homeowners come back home the earliest. It is a natural instinct to pick up the flyers and toss them out in the bin if they are of no use to you. Burglars use this technique to see who picks up their flyers and when.
The ones who don’t, or who pick them up late, indicate that they come back home late validating the burglar’s claim that the house remains unoccupied throughout the day. If you feel there are more flyers than usual lying around your door, pick them up immediately and inform the local authorities to look into the matter since it can also be a serious nuisance.
Strange symbols and drawings around the house
Signs and symbols that you can’t decipher look strange and unusual. Imagine seeing them around your house. According to Cambridgeshire Live, a secret code has been revealed that burglars use before a break-in to mark homes that are potential targets.
Officers in West Yorkshire had previously revealed a similar list which was later called the ‘Da Pinchi List’. It has signs that include ‘good target’, previously burgled’, ‘too risky’, ‘wealthy’, and ‘alarmed house’.
Some believe the signs to be innocent with no connection to criminals or organized crime, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you see suspicious markings near your property, inform the police right away so that they can patrol the area for thefts.
WHAT MAKES CERTAIN PEOPLE EASY TARGETS
No one likes to make things difficult for themselves, burglars included, which is why they look for houses that are easier to break into. What exactly makes certain people easy targets for burglars? Is it something that they do? Or don’t do, for that matter?
Here are a few rookie mistakes that homeowners tend to make which give burglars an easy pass into their property. If you are making any of these blunders, it’s time to take some safety measures and make some home security improvements ASAP:
Leaving the house unoccupied during the day
Contrary to popular belief, instead of sneaking in the darkness of the night, burglars prefer targeting homes that are empty during the day since it makes it easier for them to break in. Robbing a house when someone is in it increases their chances of getting caught which is why they look for houses that are left unattended during the daytime.
Leaving your doors and windows unlocked
Locking your doors and windows is the first step of home security, but sadly, most homeowners don’t understand this. Doors are the most common entry points for burglars with 21% of them not even having to “break-in” since the doors are left unlocked. 29% break-in through a window, out of which one-third use an unlocked one.
Putting your valuables out on display
Valuables are meant to be locked away and kept safe from prying eyes. If you leave them out in the open, they are bound to get unwanted attention putting you in a very risky position. Things such as cash, jewellery, expensive gadgets and electronics, and even important documents must be kept away from windows. You never know who’s actually an innocent passer-by and who’s just pretending to be one. Also, always keep your garage and shed equipment locked away after using it.
Making it obvious that you’re on vacation
Most burglaries occur during the end of summer or during Christmas time when people are vacationing or spending the holidays with their loved ones. Empty houses are gold mines for burglars and the easiest targets for them. The most obvious sign of the house being empty is your mail piling up. Another sign is dying plants or overgrown grass. When you’re away, tell your neighbours to help you out by picking up your mail, watering your plants, and occasionally mowing the lawn if possible.
Oversharing on social media
This is probably the biggest mistake that you can make, especially in this day and age. People tend to overshare on social media, sometimes even with personal details such as their address, pictures of their house and valuable belongings, schedules, daily routines, and vacation dates. It’s scary and unnerving that you can’t even know and tell if someone is stalking or “casing you” for a burglary. They can just silently creep into your profile, get the information that they’re looking for, and plan out their break-in without dropping even a single hint or sign.
HOW TO PREVENT YOUR HOUSE FROM BEING TARGETED
Now that you know how burglars target a house and what you’re doing to help them, it’s time to rectify the situation. Here’s what you can do to prevent your house from being targeted:
Focus on the entry points
The doors and windows are the first things that burglars check when looking for easy access into the property, which is why they must be given special attention.
Not just the front doors and main windows, but all side doors, garage doors, shed doors, and even the smallest windows must be kept locked at all times using anti-snap locks that can’t easily be broken.
Another unusual but very common entry point for burglars is the window air-conditioning unit that can be kicked in to climb inside.
Keep valuables out of sight
The more you display your wealth and valuables, the more risk you take on. Keep everything of value locked away in a secure place, preferably a safe.
Security safes are an effective hiding place to keep your valuable items away from plain sight and burglars. Even if they break-in, they are most likely going to face a difficult time locating the safe, and even if they find it, they won’t be able to crack it open.
A good home safe is one that is not breakable and movable, giving the burglars no choice but to leave it and its contents unscathed.
Be careful about sharing your information
Your information is one of your most valuable assets, and you wouldn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands.
You need to be very mindful about what and where you share, whether it’s on social media or your regular day-to-day life. As mentioned above, creepy stalkers can use your social media posts to keep tabs on you, without you even knowing.
You must also be careful about throwing away important documents such as bank statements in the trash. Burglars sometimes scavenge trash cans to find such information that they can then use to plot against you.
Install burglar alarms
63% of burglaries happen in homes without a basic security system which is all the more reason for you to invest in one.
Burglar alarms work using a series of sensors that go off as soon as they detect any unusual activity, notifying the person-in-charge to take the necessary action.
The alarms are equipped with notification devices such as bells, sirens, and lights that are triggered when the alarm goes off. Accompanied by professional monitoring services, burglar alarms can provide 24/7 security with experts at the alarm receiving centre (ARC) making sure no alarm goes unnoticed.
Install CCTV cameras
CCTV monitoring is one of the most effective deterrents against burglaries with experts believing that as many as 67% of domestic burglaries could be prevented if people had them installed on their properties.
People tend to behave well and differently when they know that they are being monitored and the same applies to burglars. When they know that their actions might be recorded and used as evidence against them, they tend to stay away since the risk of getting caught is high.
While there is no denying that CCTV cameras are a smart investment in making your home more secure, there are certain laws and regulations that need to be adhered to, specifically concerning recording images and videos. Read all about them here.
CONTACT CALDER SECURITY
Calder Security provides a complete solution for all your home security needs ranging from anti-snap locks to CCTV cameras.
We’ve been in the security industry for over 40 years and our experts can help you with a wide range of services including professional installation, maintenance, monitoring, and repair.
Our extensive experience enables us to provide you with the most ideal recommendations best suited to your property and individual needs.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 to talk to our leading experts!