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Burglars choose their victims by cruising around looking for soft targets. Typically, they see someone driving off so they knock on the door. If the door is answered, they are looking for someone else or starting a window cleaning round and off they go, your suspicions not even aroused If there is no answer, they look around for signs they are being watched. If they are, they go. If they are not, its around the back and try to gain entry.

As burglars look for soft targets, don’t make the basic mistakes which make life easy for them.  Typically, upon gaining entry the aim is to bolt the front door from the inside and open the back door wide for a fast escape. This means that anyone arriving home cannot open the front door and their attempt to do so alerts the thief who makes good his escape through the back door in the resultant confusion. Items of interest are gathered inside the front door and with the help of a mobile phone, an accomplice brings a stolen car. This is quickly loaded and they are gone, mission accomplished in around five minutes. Even an alert neighbour noting the car registration number leads nowhere.

Your first line of defence is to deter a would be burglar by making your home visibly secure. Doors and windows should be fitted with deadlocks which should always be used. Apart from making entry more difficult, a burglar who has gained entry finds his exit barred by doors which are deadlocked. If you have an alarm system fitted and it activates, he will find himself trapped without any easy means of escape. He will be forced to leave the same way he entered.

Don’t advertise the fact that your house is not occupied by giving any obvious clues. For example, if you go out for the night, don’t leave outside lights on for your return unless they are  always left on. The absence of a caravan normally parked on you property also indicates you are away.

Because thieves cannot steal newer cars without the keys, they target your keys. Leaving them on the hall table is an open invitation to a thief armed with a fishing rod. He simply fishes out your keys through the letter box, all too often complete with your house keys.

Apart from theft, there is also the question of preventing you and your family from being attacked in the home. As mentioned earlier, burglars often knock on a door to check if there is anyone home. For that reason, not answering the door could place you in danger. If this should happen and the  burglar does break in he might well strike out when he is surprised by your presence. An alternative solution is to have a door entry intercom whereby you can speak without showing yourself.

On the subject of being attacked in the home, it is very rare for intruders to enter with violence in mind. However, burglars who enter while you are sleeping might well hit out if you are woken and they are surprised by your appearance. For this reason, it makes sense to use your alarm system at night for the protection of your family. It is better for the intruder to flee than risk a confrontation.

Some will claim that nobody takes any notice of an alarm. However, the one person that it has been proven will take notice is the burglar himself who inevitably will flee in fear of a ‘have a go’ neighbour. If alarm systems were not effective, insurers who base their prevention requirements on statistics from claims would not be looking for them to be fitted. You can’t stop burglaries, you  simply move burglars elsewhere to a softer target so don’t be that soft target.

You will generally find a clause in an insurance policy to the effect that you must take reasonable care. This includes locking up properly even if you only plan to be away for five minutes. Where any insurance company specifies the need for an alarm system, it is probable that there will be a requirement for the system to be maintained by an SSAIB or NSI registered company. In the event of a claim, you could be asked to produce a valid certificate. Without it, your claim could be invalidated. You must also always use the alarm when your home is not occupied. Check your insurance policy carefully and if in doubt don’t take any chances, check with your insurers.

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