Most burglaries are carried out by opportunist
thieves. In 2 out of 10 burglaries, they don’t even have
to use force – they get in through an open door or
Look at you home through a burglar’s eyes
- How would you get in if you’ve forgotten your keys?
If you can get in, so can a burglar
- Are there places where they could break in without being
- Would they have to make a lot of noise breaking glass?
Reduce the risk of your home and being burgled by making sure
you’ve taken these simple (and often inexpensive) precautions.
Around the home
Good lighting can put off or draw attention to a thief. The most
appropriate form of lighting to use is high-efficiency low-energy
lighting, controlled by a dusk-to-dawn switch so that it comes on
only when it’s dark. This provides a constant and uniform level of
light. It costs very little to run and helps to create a more
Lights that come on if they sense movement can be annoying to
neighbours and dangerous to passing traffic. If you have these,
make sure they are directed downwards. Fit lights out of easy reach
– at a height of at least 2.5 metres (eight feet).
Make it look like you're at home even when you're out
- Remember, most burglaries happen when a house or flat is
- They are also more likely to happen during the evening or at
- Don’t leave curtains closed during the daytime.
- Use timer switches to turn on lights, radios and other
appliances when you’re out. You can buy these from DIY shops.
If you're going away:
- Cancel any milk or newspaper
- Cut the lawn before you go;
- Don’t put your home address on luggage labels when travelling
to your destination; and
- If you can, get a friend or neighbour to look
after your home while you’re away. Ask them to collect your post,
draw your curtains at night and open them in the mornings, and
generally make the place look lived-in. Be
prepared to do the same for them.
safes, hidden and securely fixed, are ideal for spare chequebooks,
credit cards, passports, jewellery and so on. For more advice see
the Home Office ‘Peace of Mind While You’re Away’ leaflet.
gates and fences
- Prevent intruders getting to the back and
sides of your home by installing strong fencing or
- Check for weak spots where a thief could get
into your garden, for example, a low or sagging fence, or a back
gate with a weak lock.
- A thorny hedge along the boundary of your
property can put thieves off. But
make sure that passers-by can still see the front of your home so
that a burglar can’t work without being seen.
- Burglars don’t like gravel; it’s noisy to walk
on. Don’t build pergolas, gazebos and so on too near to the house,
they can help thieves reach upper windows.
- Solid fences or walls (particularly those with a flat or
rounded top) are relatively easy for a burglar to climb over.
Fixing trellising to the top can make it more difficult.
- DO NOT USE barbed or razor
wire, or broken glass – you could be held
legally responsible for any injuries caused. You
can get safer alternatives that are designed not to cut or injure.
You can also increase height by adding a trellis and prickly
Passageways at the side and back of your home
Fit a strong, lockable, high gate across the
passageway to stop a thief getting to the back of your home where
they can work without being disturbed. If you share a passageway
with a neighbour, ask their permission and for help with the
However, if the passage is a right of way (for example, where it
connects two streets rather than just allowing access to the back
of a limited number of houses), you would need special permission
to fit a gate from your local authority or the courts.
Garages and sheds
- Garages and sheds are often full of expensive
tools, which are ideal for breaking into the rest of the
- Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked,
especially if it has a connecting door to the house. A thief could
get in and work on the door inside without being seen.
- Fit strong padlocks to shed and garage doors,
and make sure that the doors are solid enough not to be kicked
- Lock ladders inside your garage or shed to
stop a thief using them to reach upstairs windows. If there is no
room in your garage or shed, chain or padlock
ladders horizontally to a sturdy bracket on an outside wall.
Consider having lockable steel boxes fitted to the floor to store
your tools in, or anchor posts fitted to the floor to secure larger
tools and equipment.
Many burglars will avoid breaking into a property with an
There are many alarm systems on the market.
These range from fairly cheap alarms, which you can fit yourself,
to more sophisticated systems, costing hundreds of pounds, which
need to be installed by professionals. Low-cost alarms are less
reliable and can, through false alarms, be a nuisance to both you
and your neighbours.
Consider whether you need an audible-only alarm (which sets off
a siren or bell) or a monitored alarm (connected to a central
'listening' service). Due to the huge number of false alarms,
police will only respond to audible alarms if there is confirmation
of suspicious activity – such as a neighbour saying they saw
someone or heard glass being broken.
For monitored systems, the monitoring company
will check whether any alarm was false – for example, set off by
the homeowners entering the wrong access code – and call out the
police if necessary. Monitored systems are particularly important
for isolated properties.