Ex-criminals tell Co-op Insurance most thieves are opportunists who tend to avoid difficult break-ins
Burglars are most likely to be put off breaking into homes by CCTV cameras and barking dogs, according to a panel of former criminals.
Nearly half of the 12 former burglars consulted by Co-op Insurance said most thieves were opportunists wandering the streets who would avoid difficult break-ins that were likely to attract attention.
The most effective deterrents for home burglaries and car theft were CCTV cameras, the panel said.
They also named loud barking dogs, strong heavy doors, a TV being switched on and locked UPVC windows as the next most likely to put them off breaking into a home.
Criminals were also likely to be put off breaking into or stealing cars by street lighting, an alarm, and a vehicle being parked in a driveway.
In order of importance, burglars would be seeking cash, jewellery, electrical equipment such as TVs, phones and tablets, laptops and car keys, the panel said.
Co-op Insurance also surveyed 2,000 people in the UK about their home and car security. It found that 28% of adults took no measures to protect their property.
Fifty-five per cent of those polled slept with their windows open at night, 24% left their doors unlocked while at home, and 12% left their garden gates open.
A fifth of respondents said they posted photographs online showing they were on holiday, inadvertently drawing attention to their empty house.
In July, Kingston crown court heard how £400,000 of jewellery and designer goods were stolen from former England and Chelsea footballer John Terry’s home after he posted a photo of his ski holiday on social media.
Terry’s mansion robbed
Terry’s £5m mansion was broken into in February last year after he posed for pictures on the slopes with his family, revealing to his 3.4 million Instagram followers that he was having a “great few days away skiing with the family”.
Former bank robber Noel “Razor” Smith, who has carried out more than 200 robberies and served a total of 32 years behind bars for commercial burglaries, said: “Bragging about your holidays on social media is an absolute no-no. It’s just saying ‘come and burgle my house’. Organised gangs are having a field day.
“Most burglars want to be in and out of a house in less than five minutes. But there are some very simple steps everyone can take to make our homes more secure and keep our valuables safe.”
Smart alarms, CCTV and the neighbours
The former robber said friendly and attentive neighbours could help by spotting any unusual behaviour by strangers and what they miss is always detected by CCTV or an alarm.
“It’s a myth that burglars all wear shellsuits, trainers and carry swag bags,” Smith said. “Today’s burglars may be unrecognisable – smartly dressed in suits, carrying briefcases or even [high-visibility] waistcoats.”
Eleven of the 12 ex-convicts said they would be put off targeting a smart, connected home; eight admitted they would not try to break into connected cars.
Only 5% of adults surveyed by Co-op have invested in smart technology for their homes and cars. The panel pointed out that motion-activated security lights were a key deterrent for home thieves, but just 24% of respondents had installed such devices.
Caroline Hunter, head of home insurance at Co-op, said: “Nobody should have to go through the trauma of having their property burgled, and there are some small measures which homeowners should be mindful of to ensure any opportunists cannot be tempted.”
Lynn Farrar, chair of Neighbourhood Watch, added: “Having your car or home broken into can have a devastating financial and emotional impact on families, the effects of which can stay with an individual for some time.
“Sadly, break-ins do happen and this study reinforces the need for greater home security.”
Top deterrents for burglars
- CCTV camera system
- Burglar alarm system
- Motion-activated security lights
- Sound of a barking dog
- Strong, heavy doors
- TV that has been switched on
- Locked UPVC windows
- Cars parked on driveway
- Overlooking property
- Surrounding fences
- Gates outside the property
Top deterrents for for car thieves
- CCTV street camera
- Car alarm
- Street lighting
- Car parked on a driveway
- Newer vehicle
- Steering lock device
- Older car
- Neighbourhood Watch-designated areas
- Car parked in a dark alleyway
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