'I will never feel the same way about my home again. I don’t feel safe here any more. The children are so frightened they can't sleep at night.'
Strangers broke into our home and went through all our belongings. Now they know everything about us. They stole most of our favourite things '
'Things we've inherited from our parents and grandparents that can never be replaced.'
These are typical statements from victims, suffering the financial losses and emotional traumas of home burglaries.
The psychological backlash affects the whole family and recovery is slow. With household break-ins on the rise everywhere, particularly in the urban areas, people are worried and concerned about protecting their property. No one's home is immune to robbery.
Because break-ins are purely for economic gain, the idea is that in any house there is bound to be something valuable to the intruders, even if it is only clothes. Since it is easier to prevent a burglary than it is to catch the thieves and recover your stolen items, crime prevention should be a major priority.
You can protect yourself and your loved ones by burglar proofing your home, and it's largely up to the individual to do so. According to one survey, there are two basic kinds of break-ins... Cat burglaries and the forceful break-ins that smack of gangsters; and there has been a big increase over of the latter kind. These gangster-type thieves have been targeting houses where they can overpower the occupants. Elderly persons or single persons staying alone are especially vulnerable. The element of surprise is also very important. In many cases, this kind of robbery has been deadly. The intruders have been attacking ruthlessly, leaving no witnesses.
While cat burglaries far outnumber the gang break-ins and are equally invasive, they are less confrontational because the thieves prefers to get in and out quickly without creating a ruckus.
In most cases, both kinds of burglars are likely to choose places that are individually isolated. This includes flats that have a lot of privacy or are located in buildings with a lot of empty apartments. Manual security is the best protection.
In some cities, instances of cat burglaries in private houses are extremely high, especially where the weather is pleasant and windows are often left open. Even bars on windows cannot keep out determined burglars. Using a common car jack, the bars can be pushed apart until the tension breaks them. This happens very quickly and is known as a silent operation. To lessen the chance of detection, burglars choose rooms where people are not sleeping like kitchens, bathrooms or pantries. Once they gain entry, the first thing they do is open one of the doors from the inside so the escape route is ready. Then they start prowling around, picking up things like cutlery, electronic goods and valuable knick knacks. Usually they will try to stay out of the bedrooms. They will try not to use any force like breaking into locked cupboards because they don't want to wake up the people.
Even though most break-ins are random, cat burglars sometimes keep a watch on the targeted places so they know when you are most likely not at home. Otherwise, they break in at night. When they hit in the daytime, it is usually when they are quite certain you will not be coming back for a while.
Those people who live in houses have to take a few elementary precautions. The first of which is to try to secure yourself with manual help which is very easily available in this country. Look for help from a reliable security company. Seek recommendations from people who have had experience with them. Normally, it is not a good idea to take random individuals because you don't know enough about them and have no assurances that they won’t get together with somebody and organize a robbery of the very place they have been hired to protect.
There is no question that apartments are immensely safer than houses. Invariably there is a common entrance with manual security for the first line of protection. The second line is the lift operator or another person who is usually on hand to escort visitors upstairs since the elevators are often manned. However, it is not impossible to arrange a carefully planned operation.
Many times home break-ins are inside jobs. The culprit could be someone who has come to paint your place, or a person who has come to repair something, or a past or present employee. Very often the police have found that the finer points of the burglary are provided by the staff. They talk a lot and frequently describe exactly where valuables are kept in the house and when you are going on holiday. Most of the time there is some kind of payback. Very often the inside job stems from an associate of an employee. For example, the maid may be coerced into cooperating by a boyfriend.
To be on the safe side, take all staff to the police station and have their details taken down, including fingerprints. This is a strong deterrent as well as a way to track them should something happen.
Get a dog. A noisy one is best. You don't need an attack trained dog because a well-cared for and much loved pet will be very protective. The senses of a dog are much keener than a human's, so they will hear unusual noises before you do. They can catch the scent of a stranger and are more alert so they usually wake up more quickly when they hear something than a guard who sleeps soundly through the entire break-in.
Purchase a safe. Even a small safe like they have now in hotel rooms is highly recommended. They are compact and can easily be tucked behind clothes hanging in a wardrobe. These little safes are especially useful in protecting against internal robberies by household staff like a cook, a cleaning man or even a trusted maid. There are so many instances of live-in maids surprising their employers after years of nothing happening, who suddenly steal money and valuable jewellery and take off, never to be seen again. They may have had your keys copied, or perhaps you have got careless and left money and jewellery lying about. It can happen so quickly. For example, you may be taking a shower and you may have left the jewellery you wore last night lying on the bedside table.
A combination safe that is conveniently situated makes it easy for you to be careful about these things. Do not leave temptation lying around. Get into the habit of putting jewellery away when you take it off. And change the combination frequently. They offer a certain amount of protection against professional break-ins as well because in most cases, the burglars are doing what is known as an 'easy operation'. They won’t sit around long enough to fiddle with the numbers to try to open it.
Get a burglar alarm. Study the various kinds on the market to find the best one for your personal needs. There are all kinds of alarms readily available and many are not expensive. The noise of the alarm itself is a very strong deterrent. When it goes off, it gives the people around a warning that something has gone wrong. It also attracts outside attention. Whatever kind you decide on must have a battery backup in case of power failure. Also, burglars will often throw the main power switch to plunge the target into darkness and disable the alarm. Although many private residences and apartments have generators, most are on a manual system that provides enough delay time for a burglar to break-in. Anyway, many times these generators are not turned on during night-time power outages, which is when you most need protection against burglars.
Get a bank safety deposit box. High value items and important papers should be kept at the bank.
Organize a neighborhood watch. It is very simple to organize such a group. Just go around to meet your neighbours and talk to them about home protection and how you can help each other by being alert. Tell all the watchmen to keep their eyes open to what is going on next door. Put stickers on the windows that say, 'This house is protected by the Neighbourhood Watch Group'.
It is another deterrent. Nosey-parker neighbours are the best domestic defence system.
You can protect yourselves. Most burglars lack sophisticated equipment and are not really professionals. You can outsmart them... with little alert.