10 easy steps to stop burglars in their tracks

A burglar breaking into a house.
A burglar breaking into a house.

We’ve all been there ... you’re off on holiday, halfway down the motorway and then in creep those sneaking doubts.

Did you lock the back door? Was the bathroom window properly closed? Are the bikes locked up in the shed?

A burglar stealing a laptop from a house.

A burglar stealing a laptop from a house.

More often than not, it’s just paranoia, and of course you locked/closed/turned off everything as you meant to.

There are also occasions though – thankfully rarer – when we really do forget to lock up properly, and lax security can leave our homes and property far more vulnerable to burglars and opportunist thieves.

According to a new survey by the Co-operative, nearly a third of homeowners have gone out having left a window open (32%), 13% have managed to leave a door open, while one in five doesn’t bother setting the burglar alarm.

During summer particularly, missing these basic steps could leave your valuables (sentimental items included) at real risk, and if you don’t have the right contents insurance, you could be in real trouble.

Apparently 22% of us only guess the worth of our stuff in the first place, leaving us seriously vulnerable when it comes to making a claim.

Caroline Hunter, head of home insurance at The 
Co-operative, says: “Burglary is not a nice experience for anyone who finds themselves in this situation, yet many security risks can be easily prevented. It is easy to be distracted when you’re busy getting ready to go away for the summer holidays, but it is worth taking time to make some quick security checks for your own peace of mind.

“Being vigilant and paying attention to small details can not only help to prevent a burglary in the first place, but this can also speed up the claims process should you need to make one.”

So, how do you go about making sure your home isn’t a shining beacon, beckoning burglars with open arms? Here are 10 top tips from The Co-operative on how to keep your property safe:

1) Don’t leave keys in window locks or where they can be seen from outside. It means they can be located more easily by people attempting to break in.

2) Keep track of your keys. Some insurers may want to see evidence of forced entry before deciding whether or not to pay out on a claim, and most would expect to see individuals have taken reasonable precautions when it comes to home security.

3) If you lose your key or it’s stolen and you have good reason to believe it could be traced back to your home address, get your locks replaced.

4) If you have smaller, high-value items you usually leave outdoors or in a shed (like bikes or barbecues), think about bringing them indoors.

5) Make sure outbuildings are locked. Back gates should also be locked.

6) Check fencing is secure.

7) Securing outside ladders will ensure they can’t be used as a tool to help break into your house.

8) If you have a burglar alarm then use it – why wouldn’t you?

9) Report a theft to the police as soon as possible and obtain a crime reference number. This will make it easier for your insurer to deal with a claim and increase the chance of the police making a recovery/arrest.

10) Be sensible about the information you post online and be especially cautious if you plan to go away. Update your privacy and security settings on social media on a regular basis.