Despite burglaries dropping year-on-year in 2020 – largely down to extended nationwide lockdowns and people spending more time at home – there were still over 400,000 incidents reported. That amounts to over 1,100 burglaries a day.
With lockdowns continuing into this year and homeowners generally becoming more vigilant, burglars are becoming more innovative with their approach.
These are the latest burglary tricks and trends to be aware of and how to protect your property.
The tale of the tape
While we often imagine ‘new’ break-in techniques to look like something from an action movie – using cutting-edge technology – the reality is far different. In fact, masking tape has been linked to a rise in new burglary techniques.
One such technique sees potential intruders tape over the keyhole on homes they suspect to be empty. They return within a few days and if the tape hasn’t been removed, they can assume the home is unoccupied.
Another technique sees tape placed tightly over doorbells, to keep them permanently ringing. If the homeowner doesn’t answer after a while, the property is again assumed empty.
Those looking to protect themselves against these masking tape tricks should consider investing in a smart video doorbell.
Not only does video recording technology act as a deterrent to those approaching the home but they can also act as evidence if the worst does happen – giving you the greatest chance of getting your belongings back.
Don’t leave leaflets
Another emerging burglary tactic uses leaflets – from takeaway menus to business flyers.
In this trick, burglars post leaflets through letterboxes day after day. After a while, they’re able to see if the flyers have been gathered up or are still lying in the doorway untouched. They assume these homes with piling leaflets are unoccupied, inviting them to break-in.
While it’s a cunning plan, the solution for homeowners is simple. Pick up leaflets as and when they arrive and place them out of sight of your letterbox.
If you’re going away for more than a few days, consider giving a key to a trusted neighbour or family member who can pop in every few days and clear any mail and leaflets up, removing signs that the home is empty.
Among the scarier burglary trends are those involving forced entry to the home. Unfortunately, there have been reports of burglars blowtorching locks clean off doors and snapping lock cylinders to help them enter homes.
Criminals are using blowtorches to destroy the lock area of the door – especially on uPVC doors. This can be done in a matter of seconds, allowing intruders to get in and out of homes quickly.
Similarly, lock snapping involves using force to break the weak centres of double cylinder locks. It’s an easy technique for criminals and is typically used to break into uPVC doors.
Homeowners looking to protect against these new threats should make sure their locks meet recommended safety standards. The best way to protect against lock snapping is to install a 3-star rated cylinder lock, as these are specifically tested against snapping techniques.
While distraction burglaries aren’t a new trend, the techniques used to distract homeowners are always changing.
For example, there have been recent reports of someone claiming to be administering a COVID-19 vaccine as an excuse to enter a private property. They were then able to make off with a mobile phone and cash from the home.
One way to protect against potential distraction techniques is to ask for ID when speaking to anyone at your door. If they’re from a legitimate company, they should be able to provide identification on the spot.
If you’re still unsure, call the company to check the person works for them and is meant to be visiting. However, don't call the number on the ID – always look for the office number online, as the ID could be fake.