Most Common Tactics Used by Burglars (and How to Stop Them)

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Are you concerned about the security of your home or business?

While figures show that burglary rates are decreasing each year, the cost of repairs due to break in damages and the value of stolen items is increasing. In 2017, there was a recorded 650,000 residential properties, around 2 in 100 households, that were victims of burglary across England and Wales. Whilst retail premises saw a total increase of 6% in direct financial cost from previous years in incidents related to burglary.

This is still a substantial amount and for many years the UK has had one of the highest burglary rates in Europe.

Is your property a burglar’s ideal target?

Think with the mind of a thief; if your property looks unsecure to you, it will to any potential burglars. By analysing the common tactics used by thieves to break into homes and businesses, we can evaluate ways to avoid becoming a victim of burglary. In this post, we give advice on the most appropriate measures you can take to dispel these tactics and prevent your property from being targeted by thieves.

Here are 10 of the most common tactics used by thieves, and advice on precautions you can take to avoid becoming a target of burglary:

Targeting Isolated Properties

Tactic: Burglars will target properties with an obstructed view from the streets to avoid being seen by neighbours or passers-by. Corner houses are often targeted due to having at least one side with no neighbours, and thieves will go to the back or side of the property as fences provide coverage.

Advice: Ensure potential burglars have limited coverage. This increases the chances of them being seen, should they attempt to break in. Trim trees, and cut down hedges and bushes surrounding the property, so they can’t hide behind them.

Casing a Property

Tactic: Most burglaries are opportunistic, but some thieves will case a property and plan the break in, before they strike. They may pose as neighbours or college students, so they can walk or drive down your street unnoticed and study your routine. Burglars might come to your door pretending to be a sales rep or handyman, in order to have a look at what’s inside, and examine the security of your property. They may look out for keys, so they can see if they’d be able to fish them through the letterbox.

Advice: Look out for any suspicious persons in your area; you could even join or set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Don’t answer the door to people you don’t know or aren’t expecting, and don’t let any unknown persons in your property without checking their ID first. Keep valuables and keys out of sight from the doorway.

Accessing Unlocked Doors & Windows

Tactic: Most burglars like to operate without forced entry. More than 60% of thieves come through unlocked doors and windows. Two thirds of break in entries are through the front or back door, or a ground floor window.

Advice: Make sure that all windows, doors and gates are shut and locked when leaving the property. Restrict access to your back garden, as burglars will tend to go to the rear of the property in an attempt to gain access.

Looking Out for Poor Door & Window Security

Tactic: Thieves will target properties with low physical security. They tend to spend up to one minute attempting to break into a property and, upon successful entry, around 8-12 minutes within the premises. Burglars will usually be deterred by properties that are highly secured as entering takes time, and the risk associated is much higher than it is with an unsecure property.

Advice: Ensure your windows and doors are secure enough to withstand at least one minute of attack. Grilles are a popular option for securing windows and doors, as they can be discreetly retracted during hours when the property is occupied. Bradbury Group offers a wide range of attractive retractable security grilles to suit all types of commercial and domestic properties. Steel security doors are also an excellent form of physical security, most suitable for business premises or domestic garages. Secured by Design recommends that entrance and exit doors of commercial properties should be LPCB certified to LPS 1175 Security Rating 2, such as Bradbury Group’s M2M2 doors.

Utilising Tools

Tactic: Burglars will look for items outside, such as tools and ladders. Most burglaries are opportunistic, and if thieves see anything that could be used to assist entry into your home, they will utilise them. Burglars will use tools and bricks or rocks to help force entry, and ladders, bins or stools to help them climb over fences and into windows.

Advice: Don’t leave anything outside that somebody could use to break into your property. Put tools and ladders in a secure shed or garage, or bring them inside.

Staying Away from Dogs

Tactic: Burglars are less likely to target properties with dogs. This is more because they fear their bark, rather than their bite, as they don’t want to risk the dog drawing attention to them.

Advice: Whether you have a dog or not, display ‘Beware of the Dog’ signs to put burglars off. You could also try tricks like leaving a dog bowl and toys outside.

Looking Out for Vacant Properties

Tactic: Thieves are more likely to target properties that are vacant. Burglars recognise common ‘deterrent’ tactics employed by people who are away, so they look out for curtains that are always closed, especially during the day. Piled up mail is also a sign of a vacant property.

Advice: Make it appear like your property is occupied at all times, and don’t post about going away on social media. Don’t let post pile up; you can stop your mail and newspaper deliveries while you are away. Don’t leave curtains closed; if possible, have a friend close curtains at night and open them in the morning while you are away.

Avoiding Security Systems

Tactic: Thieves will target properties without a security system installed, as they don’t want to risk being seen or heard.

Advice: Install security lighting, CCTV and visible intruder alarm systems. These will not only help to deter burglars, but also will alert you should a thief attempt to break in. If you can’t afford to install a security system, dummy systems are an affordable alternative. Put up signs or stickers that show you have a security system installed, whether you do or not, to put burglars off.

Targeting Valuables

Tactic: Burglars will target properties where they know there will be items worth stealing inside, so that they don’t make a wasted effort breaking in. They may look for people posting about having new and/or expensive items on social media, may peer through your windows, and check for discarded boxes in your bins.

Advice: Don’t have valuables on display or in view from windows, and don’t openly advertise your expensive possessions. Be especially careful around Christmas time when disposing of boxes, keeping presents under the tree, and posting on social media about the presents you received.

Stealing Small Items

Tactic: Thieves will generally only take small valuables that they can fit in a backpack, as they usually do their work on foot and want to appear inconspicuous. Some of the most common stolen items include laptops, jewellery, and prescription medication.

Advice: Keep a list of serial numbers of electrical items, and mark valuables with a UV pen so you can identify them if they are stolen. Keep smaller valuables and money in a secure safe to help prevent these being taken. The safe should be stored in a concealed location and secured to the floor, if possible, as thieves may steal a loose safe in order to attempt entry once they have vacated the property. Businesses should store stock in a cage or within a partitioned perimeter; Bradbury Group supplies Extendor cages that are LPCB certified to LPS 1175 Security Rating 2 or 3, and are Secured by Design approved.

For more information on how to secure your property, the Secured by Design website is an excellent resource, with advice on home and business security. If you are interested in finding out how Bradbury Group can help to secure your property, please speak to one of our security experts via 01724 271999, or