Garage Doors Chester
  • by Ed
  • 25th April 2017

Common Burglar Tactics and How to Thwart Them

Professional thieves do their research and know how to burgle, but no burglar likes to take on more risk than necessary. Take a look at our advice.

Professional thieves do their research and know how to burgle. For some of them, it’s a full-time job. But no burglar – no matter how experienced or collected they are – likes to take on more risk than is necessary. If you show them that you’re a switched-on homeowner, you’ll make them think twice about targeting your property.

Here are some common burglary tactics, and what you can do to combat them…

Looking for signs of your absence

A thief would prefer to burgle your house when you aren’t there, because it’s far more convenient for them. When out canvassing neighbourhoods for homes to target, they look for giveaway signs of absence, which include:

  • Lightly littered driveways
  • Porches full of mail
  • Letterboxes rammed with flyers
  • Notes telling postmen and couriers that you’re out or on holiday
  • Wide-open curtains
  • Dark houses at night

Patient and methodical burglars are willing to go even further in their efforts. They might leave a flyer or a piece of litter directly below your front door, or they might wedge a newspaper halfway into your letterbox; if they come back a few days later to find these items are still there, they can be fairly sure that you’re out of town.

Also be mindful of your digital footprint. Be extremely careful what you divulge on your social media channels (and when). It’s certainly wise to tighten your privacy settings, so that only ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ can access your profiles – but also consider whether you even want all of those people to know your business.


1. If you’re leaving your home unattended for a few days or longer, get a relative or a trusted neighbour to drop by every 48 hours. Their mail-collecting and tidying will keep up appearances while you’re away.

2. Never leave notes that announce your absence. Postmen and couriers know to try your next-door neighbours if you don’t answer after a minute or two.

3. Don’t broadcast your holiday on social media – especially not the start of it. If you’re going to be out of the country for two weeks, that gives burglars an enormous window of opportunity – so keep it quiet. Upload your photos when you get back home.

Approaching your home in false guises

Some thieves are little more than opportunistic criminals, whereas others are fully fledged con-artists. It might sound far-fetched, but some of them really do go around pretending to be door-to-door salesmen, couriers and handymen – because these guises enable them to get up close and inspect target houses without arousing suspicion.


1. Be wary of anyone who approaches your house.

2. Position your blinds strategically during the daytime. In the case of Venetian (horizontal) blinds, keep them pointed diagonally downwards when they’re open, so that you can see out onto the ground and nobody can see into your home. If you don’t have any blinds, invest in some; they will massively enhance your privacy.

3. Have a tall security gate installed at the front of your property, so that nobody can enter (from the street) undetected or without your permission. This will make most practised burglars think twice, because it tells them that you’ve thought about your home security.

Peering into your home at night

Burglars drive, cycle and walk through their target neighbourhoods at nighttime, as part of their research. They want to identify particularly wealthy households, and can do so quite easily.

Expensive cars, nicely paved driveways and modern windows all suggest affluence – as does general ‘good taste’, which burglars are trained to spot. If you are this sort of household, you need to make it difficult (ideally impossible) for people to see into your home at night, because you don’t want to make a public exhibition of your valuables.


1. Keep your blinds and curtains closed at night. If you’re in a lit room and you look out of the window into the darkness, you don’t see anything – including anybody who’s outside looking into your bright house, seeing everything on display.

2. Place motion-sensored lighting at the foot of your driveway, so that nobody can approach your home undetected after dark.

3. Have a tall security gate at the front of your property, and keep it closed. Unless you have your lights on and your blinds wide open at night, prospective thieves won’t be able to see into your home.

Using items from your garage, shed or garden to break in

Practised burglars carry their own sets of tools, but they will use any item that is convenient for them. If they can access your garage or shed without being caught or heard, they’ll have access to an arsenal of tools (like lump-hammers and crowbars) and other useful items (like ladders).


1. Keep your garage and/or shed locked.

2. If your garage or shed has a flimsy or weak door, invest in a stronger replacement. There’s no use in buying a sophisticated lock for an outdated door.

3. If your garage has a window, make sure it is either thickly glazed or reinforced on the inside (with a window-bar fixture and/or shutters for extra security).

4. Don’t leave hand-tools or ladders lying around in your back garden or at the sides of your house.

5. Consider investing in a Secured by Design, Police Approved garage door as they will have been tried and tested against common break-in tactics.

Breaking in via windows

If a thief can enter through one of your windows, they will. They obviously prefer rear windows, but any viable window will suffice; and it isn’t just open windows they go for – many burglars have the equipment and the know-how to pry a window open without attracting too much attention.


1. Shut and lock all windows whenever you leave the house; this includes upstairs windows.

2. Never leave downstairs windows wide open – not even when you’re in the house during the day. If you were to go upstairs to tidy bedrooms or clean the bathroom, a confident and agile burglar could sneak in and quickly take their pick of whatever they find (purses, wallets, keys, and so on).

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