Whether you rent your property or own your own home, no-one is prepared for the devastation that residential property theft causes. Coming home to a property that has been broken into is one of the things we all fear.
When you are a victim of a burglary, it is normal for you to experience a range of strong emotions. The feeling of not being safe in your own home, combined with the invasion of your space, and the loss of valuables and precious memories that can’t be replaced. That’s not to mention the stress of dealing with the police, insurance companies, landlords etc.
We’ve put together a handy guide with information on what to do if your property is broken into, and how to make your property more secure.
What to do if your property is broken into
On returning home, or even waking up in the morning, as soon as you notice that you have been burgled, there are a number of steps you should take:
- Report your property break-in to the police – the sooner you contact them, the better the chance they have of catching whoever broke in.
- If you are returning home and have noticed that your property has been broken into, don’t enter it if you don’t have to – the burglar may still be present, so dial 999 and wait for the police to arrive. If you do have to enter, don’t touch anything as you could destroy important evidence. The police will give you a crime number to give to your insurance provider.
- Make a detailed list of what has been stolen to give to your insurance provider (and landlords if you are a tenant). You should also inform them of any doors or windows that need to be repaired/replaced.
- If you are a tenant, report the break-in to your landlord/owner so that they can contact their insurance company, as well as arrange for any broken doors or windows to be fixed.
- Once the police have concluded their investigations in your property, it is the perfect time to review your security measures (see below) with security experts.
- Finally, make your property sound by repairing/replacing any doors, windows, locks that have been broken by contacting the experts.
Why did I get burgled?
Householders who have been burgled often ask this question. To answer this, we need to look at the many reasons why a property is burgled, or why a particular property becomes a target for thieves.
In a report from the Office of National Statistics, 32,000 London burglaries were recorded between 2016/17 – 20,000 of which were in residential properties. It is estimated that residential property theft costs Londoners a whopping £124 million in damages per year.
So why are so many homes in London being targeted? Burglars will take advantages of any weak security areas of your property, such as:
- Badly fitted windows and doors with inadequate locks.
- Badly lit areas where they are able to break in without being spotted.
- Windows being left open.
- Easy-to-access flat roofs which mean that upstairs windows – which are often left ‘on the latch’ – can be opened.
Types of burglary
There are a number of types of burglary – some stealthy and some brazen.
- Residential burglary. Any type of property, houses, flats, maisonettes or bungalows can be a target for burglars. Using crowbars, lock picks, screwdrivers or something that they may have picked up in your garden, they can pry open weakened locks on doors and windows.
- Front door burglary. Some burglars may ‘case’ a particular area before they attempt any residential property theft. They may be aware of your schedule, when you go to work etc. and will enter via your front door by force.
- UPVC door/window burglary. Many properties are now fitted with UPVC windows because of their energy saving abilities. However, seasoned burglars have found ways of easily breaking into properties with UPVC doors and windows.
How to avoid home invasions
Although the above doesn’t make for pleasant reading, there are many ways to make your home harder for burglars to break into.
- Identify and fix any areas where burglars can find their way into your home. Contact the experts who will not only give you a comprehensive report on weak entry points in your home but can also fix them.
- Update security measures. Contact security experts who can advise you on a number of security methods, as well as installing:
- New locks on windows and doors.
- Security chains on your external doors.
- Burglar alarms
- CCTV cameras
- Doorbells that are connected to your smart phone.
- Don’t leave ground floor windows and patio doors open in the summer when you are upstairs or just popping out – this gives burglars the perfect opportunity to enter and quickly steal a few items.
- Protect your garden and outbuildings. This will not only protect items stored in your shed or garage (bikes, lawnmowers, power tools, and other valuables) but may also prevent burglars entering your home. Measures can include:
- Keeping your hedges and walls at the front of your house low so that burglars do not have anywhere to hide and can be easily seen by neighbours or people walking by.
- Keeping your side gates locked.
- Installing high fences and plant thorny shrubs to make it harder for burglars to climb over.
- Gravel driveways and paths make it harder for burglars to walk up to your house unnoticed.
- Installing outside security lights so no-one can approach your house without being illuminated.
- Securing your shed door and windows and consider fitting a security alarm designed for sheds and summer houses.
- Don’t make it easy for burglars by leaving tools lying around which could be used to break into your home.
Don’t forget your possessions. Keep valuable items (jewellery, watches, passports, credit cards, identification documents etc.) in a home safe. However, think carefully where to store it – bedrooms are always the first place a burglar will look for valuable items. For items of very high value, consider using a safety deposit box at your bank.
Also mark valuable items as well as computers, tablets, TVs, games consoles etc. using a property or police approved forensic marking solution that’s only visible under UV light. Items such as bicycles can be etched with your postcode or phone number, making them hard for thieves to sell, and so they are less likely to steal them.
Break-ins and landlords
Landlords should ensure that their properties are safe and secure so that their tenants are protected. However, there are often times where properties in your portfolio may lie empty for a period of time, which causes a number of risks, all of which will come at a large cost to get rectified. These risks include:
- Theft and vandalism
- Antisocial behaviour
Putting in place measures mentioned above, as well as fixing grilles to doors and windows, will lower these risks.
Call the experts
Most of the measures mentioned above should be carried out by experts in residential security. With over 40 years’ experience in the property industry, Montagu Property Services covers most of London and can provide homeowners and landlords with a range of residential security services. These include:
- CCTV installation and monitoring.
- Security door and window installation.
- Security guards to monitor empty properties.
To book a FREE security assessment, for more information on our security services for residential properties, or to discuss how we can help prevent residential burglary in London, please call us on 0207 723 5463 between 8am and 6pm, or email us at email@example.com