I used to be a burglar – these 5 common mistakes in your home are putting you at risk of a winter break-in
As the nights draw in, temperatures drop and Christmas quickly approaches, people around the world will get into the festive spirit and decorate their homes to celebrate the season.
But an expert warns it could spell doom for you and your home, as the festive period is known to be one of the busiest for home burglaries – with intruders hoping to catch Britons off guard.
Michael Fraser, former burglar and security expert, has revealed the most common home security mistakes we make every day, and shared tips on how to protect your home from intruders.
Michael spoke to tool experts from Toolstation, whose research found that only 47 percent of households close their blinds or curtains at night, while a whopping 46 percent admitted to leaving their home lights on. Meanwhile, 16 percent of people said they had left their TV or radio on.
Here, FEMAIL reveals the most common home security mistakes made by Brits, as well as how to protect your home from potential burglars, according to the expert…
FEMAIL reveals the most common home security mistakes Brits make, as well as how to protect your home from potential burglars, according to former burglar Michael Fraser (Stock Image)
1. Destroy your documents
Many people throw official documents in the trash outside without giving much thought to the important information they may contain, but Michael says the trash can is always a target for burglars.
He said: ‘The first thing burglars will do is look through someone’s bin.
“They may be able to find documents or advertisements with the homeowner’s name on them and use them to claim their identity.
“Households should ensure they shred or cut up any documents they throw away.”
2. Inspect windows and door locks
While many homeowners are strict about security at the front of their home, ensuring their front doors are double-locked and even investing in porches, it’s not uncommon to forget other entry points.
“Most people often only look at what the front of the house looks like to burglars, but forget about the back of the house,” says Michael.
‘Ensure all rear windows and doors are concealed and valuables are removed from view.
If you’re proud to brighten up your home with some Christmas dazzle, Michael suggests taking valuables out of the window (Stock Image)
‘Burglars also inspect door locks. Cylinder locks are more attractive to burglars because they do not hold as well.
‘I would recommend purchasing a standoff that is much stronger and more robust and will give burglars less confidence in attempting a break-in.’
3. Check for weak access points
What you may think of as airtight security measures for your home may actually be weak points for a seasoned burglar.
Michael said the age-old “Beware of Dog” sign no longer works and may make way for something more sinister.
In fact, the sign gives burglars more reason to try to break in. Michael explains: ‘When burglars see this sign, they immediately think that the home may have a pet door and a weakened entrance gate.’
4. Place calendars and valuables away from the window
The security expert said intruders often look for personal and physical calendars because they hold crucial information about your schedule.
‘While a physical calendar may seem harmless, burglars can use it to figure out what days and times the house will be left unattended if it is visible from the window.
‘I would always recommend closing the calendar when you leave, or at least putting it out of sight.’
Michael said the age-old ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign no longer works and may make way for something more sinister (Stock Image)
According to a survey by Toolstation, 34 percent of households leave a spare key at the front door, with people leaving it under a flower pot, in the ground or even under a welcome mat. Michael strongly advises against any of these practices.
He said: ‘If you leave a key outside your house, it will definitely be found.
‘Burglars are aware of all the usual hiding places and look for clues in the area, such as fresh soil in a particular spot compared to the rest of the lawn, or a pot that has shifted slightly from the ring spot.
“I would always recommend leaving it with someone who lives close to you and who you can trust.”
5. Travel in secret
For homeowners going on vacation or traveling abroad to visit family, Michael suggests an action plan to keep your home safe while it’s vacant.
He explained: ‘If you are traveling to the airport by taxi, instruct it to arrive further away and do not give any information about where you are traveling abroad.
‘With such a strong social media presence it’s very easy for burglars to track people’s locations, so try not to post holiday snaps before the trip has finished.’