With summer sunshine starting to entice people outdoors, North Yorkshire Police is urging residents to take simple but effective measures to help guard against opportunist burglars.

Reports of sneak-in burglaries always increase during the warmer months.

Sadly, this is often down to homeowners taking unnecessary risks by leaving doors, windows and outbuildings insecure.

 

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Detective Chief Inspector Carol Kirk, North Yorkshire Police’s burglary lead, said:

“It only takes a few minutes of your time to lock doors, close widows and secure sheds and garages.

“Yet it only takes a matter of seconds for an opportunistic burglar to sneak into your property and take whatever they can lay their hands on.

“That’s why it’s so important to remember to lock up and hide your valuables from view – even if you’re just washing the car or cutting the grass at the time.

“Remember to put away your tools in a secure garage or shed. Not only could they be stolen, but they can be used by burglars to enter your home.

“Crucially, never leave your car keys in the front door or within reach through a kitchen or bedroom window. This will prevent you from becoming a victim of a ‘2 in 1 burglary’, which is when a criminal enters a property to steal the key to a vehicle before driving off in it.”

 

DCI Kirk added: “Being a victim of burglary can have a severe financial impact and leave life-long emotional scars.

“Goods can be costly to replace, especially if your insurance company refuses to pay out if you have not secured your home.

“By taking a few simple precautions which don’t cost anything, you can help prevent a lot of distress, inconvenience and financial loss.”

 

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Keep burglars out of your property

In addition to the locking up properly, here’s some additional advice to prevent burglars from targeting your property.

Keep it visible…

You’d think that it would be best to make a property less visible from the street, and to keep it hidden from prying eyes behind overgrown bushes, trees, high fences or walls.

In reality, all that this serves to do is make it easier for a burglar to get close to a home unnoticed and provide somewhere to hide while carrying out a burglary or theft from the property.

Please note…

Lower fences at the front around one-metre high are preferable to high fences as they allow for a clear view over the top and don’t provide cover for anyone wishing to hide

At the rear and sides, taller fencing is recommended to prevent easy access

Trellis, thorny plants, or a suitable anti-climb topping such as plastic spikes make it difficult for anyone climbing over a fence or gate

Planting prickly or barbed shrubbery along boundaries and fence lines acts as an effective natural barrier

Gravel driveways and paths will make sure you hear anyone approach

 

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Vehicles

Don’t forget to check your vehicles are locked and the windows secure.

If you have a keyless entry system, then a cheap and effective way to prevent the frequency being relayed is to put them in a signal blocking box or pouch.

 

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CCTV

By using well-defined boundaries as a basis, CCTV can be a valuable tool.

CCTV linked to a smartphone will alert you to someone crossing your boundary.

Some cameras work by day and by night, and record when they detect movement. Some can be remotely viewed from a smartphone.

Position cameras where they are best able to obtain good quality facial images. Could you recognise or identify someone from the footage?

There is legislation for home CCTV use, so always seek advice from an accredited installer first to ensure your system complies with the law.

Place signage up warning that CCTV is in use.

 

Alarms

Consider an accredited burglar alarm system with audible alarm boxes mounted high at the front and rear of your home. Two visible audible alarm boxes are better than one. Mount them at the front and rear of your home, high up to resist tampering.

Signage is an effective deterrent if used with an active alarm system.

 

External lighting

Lighting is a good deterrent and is recommended at doors as it makes it safer for you when coming and going after dark.

A clear, low white light that activates at dusk to dawn is ideal for lighting a yard and garden and allowing any person to be clearly seen.

Check to make sure that trees and plants do not obscure your lighting. It’s recommended that you regularly cut vegetation back.

Take care to position these lights so that light pollution doesn’t annoy your neighbours.

 

Internal lighting

Use an automatic plug-in time switch to operate a lamp or light at pre-set times when you’re away.

Energy saving LED bulbs are best as they do not use as much electricity, last longer than conventional bulbs and do not generate heat, reducing fire risk.

In blocks of flats, automatic low energy lights that detect movement are recommended for corridors, stairwells and communal areas such as car parks and cycle stores.

 

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Keeping your shed or garage safe and secure

Many people don’t secure their shed or garage in the same way they do their homes – often using an easy-to-break lock or padlock to protect valuable contents such as a car, bike or lawnmower.

An opportunistic burglar will try a shed or garage first because they can find the tools they need to break into the main house.

First off, check that your insurance covers the contents of your shed or outbuildings from theft.

The top five most common items stolen from sheds are…

Bikes

Mowers

Sports equipment

Power tools

Garden tools

 

Think like a thief

Look at your shed and consider how you would break in. It’s worth having a good padlock on the door with no exposed screws. Pay attention to hinges, as these are sometimes easily removable. If you have windows, then these could be vulnerable unless they’re secured with wire mesh or grills. And keep it locked at all times.

Alarm it

Consider a battery-operated shed alarm. They look low-key but they respond to movement or door contact with an extremely loud siren.

Lock it, hide it or mark it

Don’t give them the opportunity or the tools to commit a crime. Lock everything away securely. Tools can be locked inside a locker or box or secured with a chain.

Secure your bike to the ground or a lockable stand within a locked shed or garage. Visit Sold Secure to search for ground anchors and other locks designed to fix to floors and walls.

It’s always worth draping an old sheet or blanket over the top of mowers or bikes to keep them covered from view.

Although it might sound like stating the obvious, never leave your garage or shed door unlocked if you’re not around.

Property Marking

Property marking your items is advisable and some tools can be painted with your name or postcode. Forensic marking is also an option.

You can register your property on www.immobilise.com so that if it is stolen and recovered by the police it can then be returned to you.

 

Making a report

Anyone with information about burglaries or suspicious activity in your neighbourhood or surrounding area, should not hesitate to make a report via the North Yorkshire Police website or by calling on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room.

Information can also be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

If you see a burglary in progress or feel threatened, always dial 999 for an emergency response.

Keep Opportunist Burglars at bay this summer