Experts are warning homeowners about the dangers of home security complacency after a predicted rise in burglaries post-lockdown.
The concern comes after police data revealed a rise in offences when the first lockdown ended last summer.
As coronavirus restrictions continue to ease the Metropolitan Police are expecting the same kind of surge in burglaries experienced in July 2020, when numbers shot up by 28% across London, with the figure rising by as much as 72% in some boroughs.
Similar rises in break-ins were recorded across the rest of the UK with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by home security company Boundary conducted last year revealing that burglary rates in England and Wales increased by 26% in July 2020, when pubs reopened, compared to May, when lockdown restrictions remained strict.
“We can confidently say with almost a full degree of certainty that burglary rates will rise post lockdown, and there are a number of reasons for this," explains Robin Knox, CEO of Boundary.
"Primarily, people are going to be vacating their homes more often - whether it be going on holiday or attending a re-re-scheduled event.
"Following what has been a very tough period for many people financially, there will likely be a lot of opportunistic burglars on the lookout to make a quick buck, and empty homes present the perfect opportunity for this."
But there are concerns that a drop in burglary rates during lockdown has made some homeowners complacent about their home security.
"Lockdowns are exceptional times: never before have so many people stayed at home," explains Stephen Halloran, director at Lawtons Solicitors.
"Of course, people being at home 24/7 makes burglaries a lot less likely, as the data shows us. The rise in crime after lockdown is also inevitable, but it is worrying that people became complacent after the last lockdown eased.
"Some areas that had a lower number of burglaries during lockdown then had huge increases again when restrictions were lifted."
Halloran says lawyers noticed a dramatic spike in burglary cases when previous lockdowns ended and are expecting the same will happen this summer.
"Unfortunately, pandemic-fuelled unemployment and people falling on hard times only exacerbates the problem, tempting people into burglary," he adds.
“Therefore it’s vital that people are aware of the dangers, particularly if they live in burglary hotspots. We don’t want to see another upsurge in burglaries, so we’d urge everyone to be extra cautious about home security.”
So what can you do to secure your space?
As people continue to return to work and many families head off on their holidays, Knox advises trying to disguise the fact that your home is empty.
"If you are out of the house for any period of time, then it’s imperative you don’t showcase this to potential burglars," he says. "Do not schedule deliveries (whether it be a parcel, milk, or groceries) for when you are out, as this will highlight that no one is home.
"Putting certain lights on a timer to come on in the evening while you are away is also a good tactic to make it appear that you are at home," he adds.
"Meanwhile visible deterrents - such as outdoor lights, cameras, or even gravel - are very effective in keeping burglars out, as they thrive in secrecy and anonymity.”
To further avoiding falling victim to burglary Insulation Express consulted Kevin Spencer, head of product management for home security experts Yale who has put together some tips to keep your home secure.
Make your home look occupied
If it looks like you’re not in, your home can quickly become a target for burglaries. "If you’re out of the house for an extended period, ask a trusted neighbour to park in your driveway, open and close your curtains at appropriate times and leave a light on overnight to give the illusion of someone being home," suggests Spencer.
Watch: Government handled Freedom Day recklessly.
Know your risk times
Interestingly data from Office of National Statistics highlighted that burglars tend to time their burglary attempts on weekdays, most likely targeting properties when homeowners are out at work or the least likely to be at home. "Only three out of 10 burglary incidents in 2019-2020 occurred on a weekend,” Spencer adds.
Don’t overshare on social media
Social media is like online shopping for a burglar. "It may be tempting to share details of your post-lockdown staycation in the Lakes, but doing so could mean your house is the next on the list for a break in," Spencer explains.
Keep concealed areas well-lit
Burglars prefer areas that are relatively low light so they have a minimal chance of being seen. "Investing in motion activated lighting and alarms for your outdoor areas are likely to deter criminals," Spencer says.
Ensure all outbuildings are locked
It sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many homeowners don't lock away their garden valuables.
"Garden tools are one of the easiest picks for burglars, because they can find some costly items to sell on and sheds are easier to break into than a house," Spencer explains. "Investing in some quality security for your outbuildings means you’re less likely to be a lawnmower down."
Consider outdoor furnishings that are a natural alert
If the areas surrounding your home make noise and alert you of someone on your property, you’re less likely to be targeted. "Something as simple as a gravel driveway can make it harder for a criminal to get away with investigating your property," adds Spencer.
Get a ‘Beware of the dog’ sign
According to criminal experts one of the biggest burglar put-offs is big, loud dog breeds. "Even if you haven’t got a pet, investing in a threatening ‘beware of the dog’ sign can be enough to deter an intruder," Spencer adds.
Keep keys in a safe place
Burglars are annoyingly resourceful, so the best thing you can do is to not give them any resources to commit the crime.
"Having your keys on show makes it easy for opportunists," explains Spencer. "While it may seem more straightforward to hang up your keys on a rack or in a side drawer, it’s the first place a burglar will look in order to take the car on your driveway," he adds.