Gardaí set out steps to take to ensure you are not a victim of burglary

CRIME PREVENTION COLUMN

Garda Sergeant Graham Kavanagh, Crime Prevention Officer Laois,Offaly & Kildare

Reporter:

Garda Sergeant Graham Kavanagh, Crime Prevention Officer Laois,Offaly & Kildare

crime garda

Prevent burglars

Burglary is where a person enters a building or part of a building as a trespasser with the intent to commit and offence e.g. theft, damage. Section 12 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 outlines the offence and sentences.

Saying that incidents of Burglary have dropped dramatically over the pandemic due to a number of factors but mainly due to the fact most of us where at home occupying our homes, people being at home notice suspicious activity, the criminal would know this and opportunities to commit the crime would be less available.

The presence of Garda checkpoints and evidence that movement of the population over the three months was down meant any movements of those associated with committing these crimes stood out.

We are seeing increased movement of society in general and with this will bring the inevitable increase in nefarious opportunities. Therefore we all need to take some proactive steps to mitigate against these type of crimes.

An Garda Siochana and communities have always tried to work together to try prevent crime with Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch schemes, the use of text alert systems and social media use.

This is a collective responsibility but as individuals it is important that we all should realise that Crime Prevention is everyone’s business. As Benjamin Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this is something we should all take on board.

What can I do as a homeowner?

Remember to make your home look occupied, particularly if you intend to be away for an extended period. Once your home is locked and alarmed, ask a neighbour to regularly check your property, use timer switches or apps to turn on lights, cancel deliveries, tidy the garden and watch what you post on social media. Keep the surprises for your holiday and not when you return.”

Burglary was down due to occupancy, people reporting suspicious activity and checkpoints. Performing checkpoints has a dual role roads Policing and Crime Prevention. Remember that when you think of notifying oncoming drivers!!

Look at your Home Security

*Whether at home or going out, turn on some lights, use timer switches.

*Lock all doors and window,

*Use your house alarm.

*Store keys safely; away from windows and letterboxes.

*Record details of valuables and don’t keep large cash amounts at home.

Vacant Houses

If your home is going to be vacant during the summer period;

* Ask a trusted neighbour or family member to conduct frequent checks of the property at different times of the day to note any signs of trespassing or interference.

* Ensure the house alarm is set.

* Check all doors and windows are secure. (Use deadbolt locks if property is to be vacant for long periods).

* Install timers on internal lights and motion detectors on external lights to make the house appear occupied and offer natural surveillance of the property.

* Ensure that the building doesn't look neglected. Cut the grass, trim hedges etc.

* Ask a neighbour to collect post or if you are going to be away for longer periods arrange a ‘mail minder’ service with An Post to retain post for collection and place a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on letter-box.

* Inform the local Garda station about the premises being vacant to afford passing attention on patrols.

Social Media

If you are going on holiday and your home is going to be vacant, be mindful of what you post on social media. Even if you have enabled strict privacy settings, your holiday plans could be shared with unscrupulous people. Keep the surprises for your holiday.

Garden/ Landscaping

* Don’t help the burglar; safely store away ladders, tools etc.

* Use quality locks on Garden sheds, chain valuable property, tools, bikes, etc. within.

* Property mark and photograph valuable possessions.

* Tidy up gardens and shrubbery, this improves visibility and creates the illusion of an occupied home.

* Consider defensive planting, e.g. thorny plants around the perimeter, for extra security.

* A barrier of prickly hedge along your boundary or underneath a window will help deter thieves. Hedges and shrubs in the front garden should be kept to a height of no more than 3 feet in order to avoid giving a burglar a screen behind which he can conceal himself.

From the Burglars perspective this is what they look out for when deciding on the location to target. We can use this information to counter any activity.

Signs of vacancy

The majority of burglaries take place in unoccupied homes. The following are some of the things a burglar looks for:

* No lights on at night, or just ‘dead’ lights on (porch, hall)

* Lights on constantly during the day

* Blinds pulled down, or curtains across during the day

* A build-up of papers and/or flyers in the letter box

* A build-up of letters in the hall or porch visible from outside

* A build-up of milk on the door-step

* Front gates closed and no car in the driveway

* Notes left for delivery men

* Uncut lawn and untidy garden

Most burglars are opportunists and will select the easiest target that they can find. Don’t offer them assistance by:

* Leaving any window open. Some people do this for ventilation forgetting that burglars will take advantage of the smallest opening

* Leaving external doors unlocked

Leaving a key on a string, under a doormat, or in some other ‘good hiding place’ outside

* Failing to secure side doors, allowing entry to the back of the premises, which is more vulnerable to attack

* Failing to keep garages and sheds locked. Not only do they contain valuable property, but also tools which may help the burglar gain access to your home.

Doors

Burglars prefer to enter homes through a door because, if disturbed the open door provides the quickest escape route. Whether an intruder will gain access to your home through your external doors may depend on:

* the strength of the construction material

* the quality of the locks

proper fitting and installation

* Additional locks and limiters may be added for extra security. * Remember to lock your doors. One in five burglars will enter a home via an unlocked door or window.

Windows

More than a third of burglars will enter your property through a window. A window’s individual vulnerability will depend on three main factors:

* The accessibility of the window

* The quality of the fabrication, strength and installation of the window

* The visibility of the window to neighbours or passers-by

* We can reduce their attraction as an entry point for the burglar by trying to minimize these risk features.

* Additional locks and limiters may be added for extra security.

* Remember to lock your windows.

* One in five burglars will enter a home via an unlocked door or window.

Lighting

It is widely accepted that appropriate lighting can help to reduce crime and act as an effective deterrent to burglars. Appropriate lighting will help to make your home more visible to neighbours and passers-by; thereby increasing the likelihood of discovering unwanted intruders and trespassers. Lighting also helps to reduce the fear of crime.

When installing security lighting, please consider each of the following:

* Avoid the creation of shadows and dark areas

* Position the light fitting out of reach

* Aim for a uniform light level

* Direct the light beam appropriately

* Consider your neighbours

* Avoid light pollution

Alarms

It is widely accepted that intruder alarms are an effective deterrent against burglars, thereby helping to reduce the likelihood of your home being targeted. However, it is important to understand that an intruder alarm is not a replacement for good physical security. It should, rather, be regarded as a back-up to good physical and other security measures and precautions employed to protect your home.

All installed alarms should comply with the European Standard EN 50131. All alarm installers and installation companies must now be licensed by the Private Security Authority.

Lastly remember the 4 D’s

Deter: The most important thing we can do together is be vigilant, report suspicious behaviour and remember the 4 D’s Deter – (deterrence): to keep someone from doing something through anxiety, or doubt. To discourage someone from doing something. Example: Posted front yard warning of a monitored alarm system and cameras are only two of many ways to target harden your home from would be intruders thus the intruder will move on to an easier target.

Detect: to find out or discover the presence of existence of anything hidden. Example: A building alarm is triggered when a window is broken, sending an alert to local law enforcement, alerting them of a possible illegal intrusion. The criminal is caught because his or her act was detected.

Delay: to put off to a future time; postpone; to make late; to stop for a while. Example: placing a high-security padlock on a door that is frequently the location of unauthorized entry. The criminal is accustomed to cutting the low-security padlock with bolt cutters however this high-security lock does not have an exposed shackle so the bolt cutters does not work. It takes more time to try to defeat this lock, thus increasing the possibility the criminal will be caught.

Deny: to refuse access to; forbid. Example: a criminal still attempts to cut into the high-security padlock but is unsuccessful. The extra measure taken to better secure the door prevented entry thus denying the crime and allowing only the attempt.