‘Thief who carried out 420 burglaries is spared prison’ – yes 420 burglaries !

Can this be right you’re probably asking yourself ?

I’m staggered to report that this is a quote from a news article published in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ on the 2nd September 2006. The article was about a 28 year old thief who had stolen an estimated £400,000 worth of property during a two year burglary spree, in order to fund a chronic drug addiction. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated case, very few burglars go to prison and in this particular instance the thief was recommended for a drug rehabilitation programme.

I’m prompted to write this article because home security is a particular passion of mine, as during the course of my 22 year Police career I’ve dealt with dealt with literally thousands of burglaries. I know only too well the devastating effect that they can have on the average householder and how long it can take to recover financially and emotionally from them. This is a shame because I can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of burglaries that, with a little thought, couldn’t have been prevented.

You see, whilst investigating burglaries I’ve spoken to many burglars and know what motivates or de-motivates them in deciding on a particular house to break in to.

This information has proved useful in advising victims on the relatively simple and inexpensive measures they can take to prevent themselves from being targeted in the future. This is particularly important when you consider that once a house has been burgled it is four times more likely to be attacked again -usually within the folllowing 18 months- than would be a similar house that has never been targeted before (this statistic is provided by the National Neighbourhood Watch Association).

In many cases my advice has been taken up by the occupiers – very often to their benefit. Unfortunately, there has not been a similar take-up of my advice by victims’ neighbours, who I would usually visit during the course of my investigations. I say unfortunately, because burglars have on many occasions returned to attack other vulnerable houses that they identified during their previous visit.

In this and the following articles I’d like to share my expertise in burglary prevention with you.

Before I write about about the best methods of putting off the burglar though, I’d like to provide you with a couple of incentives that should help spur you into making your home as secure as possible :

Firstly; Burglary isn’t inevitable. This is because burglars aren’t invincible!

They are only human and will do the the least amount necessary in order to steal from you. Knowing this and a few other things about burglars should help you see that with a little bit of effort you can defeat them.

You probably didn’t realise that :

* The average burglar is a relatively unsophisticated youth;

* Often described as an opportunist, he will persistantly look for an unoccupied easy target;

* He looks for signs that a house is unoccupied- milk on the door step, letters or freebie papers in the

letter box;

* He rarely carries tools with him (he’d have to explain his reasons for having them if stopped and

searched by a Policeman) and relies on finding objects or tools on site to enable him to break in to

a house;

* Buglars are usually nervous and want to commit a burglary as quickly as possible- usually within

five minutes;

* They’ve probably got a drug habit to feed, are operating on foot within a relatively short distance

from home-usually within 2 miles- and are therefore limited in the amount they can carry, so small,

valuable items such as credit cards, jewellery and cash are their favourites;

* Burglars are creatures of habit and will re-visit houses they’ve burgled after a reasonable period,

when they would expect insurance replacements to have been made.

Knowing what you now know about the typical burglar (what motivates them and how they operate) will perhaps be the mental lever you need to get you thinking about installing a good security system to defend your home. If that doesn’t work, then read on.

My second incentive for you to do something about your home’s security is to avoid the damaging effects that a successful burglary can have on you and your family:

* Insurance penalties and other financial implications;

* Identity theft and subsequent fraud;

* Loss of irreplaceable items e.g. family heirlooms;

* Repairing costly damage;

* Getting over the fact that someone has entered your home and ‘dirtied’ it – in my experience women

feel this most;

* The feeling of vulnerability and the not unnatural desire to move to a safer place;

* Burglary can be a home wrecker and has been cited as a cause for relationships breaking up in 10%

of burglary victims.

The last two points are not anecdotal: they are gleaned from information provided by the Victim Support Scheme charity, which researched burglary cases in South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Sussex and reported their findings in the National press in mid-April 2006 (Daily Express and Daily Mail).

Hopefully, without alarming you, I have motivated you into finding out about the practical ways you can use to prevent your home from being burgled.

If so, then read my following articles which I hope to publish over the course of the next few weeks.

'Thief who carried out 420 burglaries is spared prison' - yes 420 burglaries !Can this be right you're probably asking yourself ? I'm staggered to report that this is a quote from a news article published in 'The Mail on Sunday' on the 2nd September 2006. The article was about...