Think like a burglar to avoid break-ins

13 June 2013 ( 13 July 2017 )

If you’re planning a holiday, it’s a good time to review your home security by getting inside the mind of a burglar. Take a careful look at your home and spot the weak points.



To find weaknesses in your home's security plan to burgle your own home. How would you get in? What are the weak points? Once this is established, introduce measures to prevent break-ins through these methods

First impressions

The gate - a closed gate acts as a psychological barrier but if it’s broken or left wide open, it could suggest a casual approach to security that burglars love.

Doors and windows – don’t rely on just a cylinder lock for the front door – use a deadlock or similar and lock the windows too. Refit external doors so the hinges are on the inside Fortify any glass panels in external doors to prevent them being broken, allowing an intruder to reach inside the house. Use locks on your windows and store the keys out of sight.

Lighting – movement sensors and external security lights are inexpensive deterrents. Install one above the front door - burglars will be less inclined to try to tamper with the door if they can be easily observed.

‘Beware of the Dog’ signs often have the opposite effect as burglars might assume the dog’s an alternative to an alarm, which is fine if it’s fierce but not much good otherwise!

Pet owners are likely to have a habit of leaving back doors unlocked to let animals into the garden and if someone’s popping round to walk the dog or feed the cats while you’re away they could easily forget to lock the doors.

Secure the garage - keep your garage door closed and locked. Use frosted glass for the windows to stop people peeking in to see what possessions you have. Painting the handles of your tools can be a deterrent to a thief. They will be less inclined to steal if the tools are easily identified.

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Don't help them

Giving a burglar a leg up? Chain ladders and wheelie bins to stop burglars using them to climb over a fence or to a first floor window and if ladders are in a shed or garage, make sure that’s securely locked up as well.

Be careful who you tell

Do let trusted neighbours or friends know you’re away and when you’re due back so they’re alert to anything suspicious.

Do leave a couple of lights and a radio on a socket timer to give the impression that someone’s home.

Do draw blinds or curtains, especially in rooms where valuables or a calendar can be easily seen – someone ‘casing the joint’ will know when you’re next out and which rooms to target.

Don’t put your home address on luggage labels that anyone can see and know you’re away. Use a business address or just a phone number.

Don’t advertise your absence

Don't leave notes for milkmen, window cleaners or the paper boy.

Don’t leave keys under mats, flower pots or anywhere obvious – ideally give a set to anyone who needs access.

Don’t leave the rubbish out for days – better to miss a collection until you’re back home.

Don’t tell the world you’re away by talking about your whereabouts on social media websites.

Read our tips for improving security around the home

And now the weather...

The weather is predictably unpredictable; your return may be delayed by bad weather so be safe and resume newspaper or other deliveries when you’re actually back.

In the winter, heavy snow or gales can wreak havoc so make sure fences are secure, garden furniture, patio heaters and pots are a safe distance away from windows and cars.

In summer, if you can't get a friend or neighbour to water the pots, remove them from view - dried out plants are a good sign that no one's home!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.