Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Thieves don’t generally case a house for weeks before they break in; they will usually spot a vulnerable home in passing, take note of it and return at a later date. Issues like poor maintenance, indifferent security and hidden points of entry are all attractive to burglars.
Additionally, burglars much prefer to break into a home when the owner is away or otherwise not present. This is why gadgets like light timers can be so effective, since they give the appearance of someone being home.
However, there are some thieves out there who aren’t deterred by someone being home. For them, it simply becomes an issue of distracting you. In many cases, these thieves will work in a pair (or more), where one will distract you while the other steals your valuables. In this post, we take a look at some of the more common scams and distraction technique.
Humberside Police have seen the problem before, and put out a warning on their website:
“Some criminals are brazen enough to work face to face when committing crime. Be alert – when someone knocks on your door make sure you don’t let them in unless you are expecting them or they provide proper ID. They could be a distraction burglar or a rogue trader or a scammer. A distraction burglar is someone who gets into your home by distracting or tricking you – once in they steal your property and can even hurt you.”
It can be intimidating to have someone come to your door, who you don’t recognise, insisting that they are an official or representative of a company or local government organisation. You are within your rights to insist that they prove who they are. Additionally, you always have the right to turn them away and insist they make an appointment.
There have been cases where someone barges into a home and distracts the homeowner while a partner sneaks in and steals from other rooms before escaping.
How to defend yourself
As mentioned, it’s perfectly within your rights to ask for identification, and even for the visitor to return having made an appointment over the phone. However, there are some things you can do to discourage this kind of theft in the first place. Firstly, you must show that you take your security seriously. Investing in an integrated security system, complete with high-quality alarm, may be enough to deter criminals by itself. Other useful additions include security gates, since they allow you greater access control and should prevent a burglar’s partners in crime from entering the property at the same time.
Finally, CCTV is a superb deterrent for so-called “distraction” crime, since it records the thief’s likeness on camera. They might give you a fake name at the door, but police will be able to use the footage to track them down and bring them to justice.
The authorities will also be able to use the footage as evidence in court. Thieves have repeatedly been shown to avoid homes with CCTV cameras for this very reason.
If you’d like to learn more about how to protect your home from distraction burglaries, get in touch with a member of our friendly team to talk about your available options.