Open house for burglars

Householders encouraged to check their home security

The AA is urging householders to check their home security measures as new research indicates that doors and windows left open are the primary cause of many home burglaries.*

Although three-quarters of thieves still entered through a door, they only had to force the lock in a quarter of cases, indicating greater vigilance is needed when it comes to preventing burglary.

Finding easy targets

Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: "Burglary is an opportunistic crime. When burglars look for a target, they'll pass by houses with an alarm or security lighting, for example.

"For them, the best targets are homes where doors or windows have been left open – while the householder is doing a spot of gardening, or having a barbecue perhaps.

"The AA's own home insurance claims data shows that burglaries are quite consistent all year round. People tend to think they're more at risk in winter when burglars are tempted by Christmas presents and dark, early nights. But summer can present rich pickings too," Mr Stringer added.

Lock your doors

Over £1,000 worth of goods are typically taken during a burglary, but victims often have to deal with the resulting property damage too.

With 47% of burglars getting in through a door, Mr Stringer added: "Strong locks can put off or at least slow down burglars. It's a good idea to replace them after a burglary too, just in case they've snatched a spare key.

"The good news is that burglaries and other property crimes are falling – though of course that's not much comfort to those who have already been affected."

Top 10 tips to keep your house secure

  1. Keep your windows and doors locked when you’re not around. Be careful about leaving windows open in the summer.
  2. Security lights could put off burglars if they approach in darkness.
  3. Keep garden furniture, tools and bikes in a locked shed when they aren’t being used.
  4. Don't keep keys close to the door as thieves commonly 'fish' for them through letterboxes.
  5. If you're going away, ask a friend or neighbour to pop round and close your curtains and turn the lights on and off so your home doesn't look empty.
  6. A burglar alarm will help put off thieves, but make sure it works – they’ll probably be able to spot a dummy box.
  7. Obvious signs like 'Beware of the dog' suggest you might leave doors open for your pet to get in and out.
  8. Shred documents that reveal your identity – thieves go through bins looking for credit card information or other personal details.
  9. Mark your valuables with a UV pen which could help identify them if they’re stolen.
  10. Fitting newer and more secure locks can act as a deterrent.