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Sneak break-ins account for 30% of burglaries
The statistics vary from region to region but the consensus is that almost one third of all burglaries are sneak-in thefts or ‘insecure burglaries’, as they are officially referred to by the police. In other words, a break-in via an unsecured door or window. That’s a third of burglaries that could be easily prevented.
There is a pattern of common behaviour that can lead to an insecure burglary; things that we all do without locking doors or windows and not really thinking about it: popping to a neighbour’s to pick up a parcel, gardening, washing the car, working or cleaning upstairs, leaving the door unlocked for children coming home from school or for a friend or family member who is expected to call round. It doesn’t take long for an opportunist to sneak in, grab a few things and leave again. For many it can be quite a while before you even notice that you’ve been burgled and it’s only when you come to look for your phone/handbag/keys that you realise what’s happened.
Sometimes they are more organised and work in pairs – one person occupies you at the front door while another sneaks in at the back. Older or vulnerable people can be at particular risk. Once recent incident in Hull saw an elderly lady actually catch a thief in the process of a break-in and he continued ransacking the property, even after being challenged, because he knew there wasn’t really anything she could do. Any sneak-in thief bold enough to enter a property while it is occupied intends to be in and out quickly but there are many recorded cases of the incident turning nasty if they are caught in the act as they’ll do whatever they need to to get out. Even the knowledge that someone has been in your home, going through your things, while you were in the house can be terrifying for people.
Allowing a thief to enter your home through complacency can also have other consequences as some insurance companies won’t pay out if they feel you’ve not taken appropriate measures to protect your property. In 2013 Tameside Police actually considered starting to inform insurance companies of any such instances of insecure burglary along with providing the crime number in an attempt to force people to become more vigilant.
Preventing an Insecure Burglary
It doesn’t take a security specialist to advise you on the best strategy to avoid an insecure burglary – just keep your doors locked and windows shut! Don’t assume that you being at home is a deterrent, that just nipping out for 5 minutes is ok – even into your own garden or to the car – and that nobody would be so audacious as to try anything in broad daylight. Try to get into the habit of locking the door behind you when you come in or pop out. Stickers by the door can help with this. Even back doors are vulnerable and probably would be the first choice for a burglar hoping to nip in unnoticed by neighbours.
Older people or those with mobility issues who struggle to get to the door to let people in could consider a key safe which can be fixed to the outside of your property. It contains a key (or several keys) which is accessible using a numerical code which you give to trusted people. These can work equally for those with children coming home from school if you don’t want to give them the responsibility of a key – just make sure they lock the door behind them when they come in!
In just one year (October 2013 – September 2014) 10,456 burglaries were recorded in West Yorkshire. At a 30% insecure burglary rate that means over 3100 break-ins were due to failure to keep doors and windows locked and therefore wholly preventable.