Michael Fraser, a former burglar gestures toward my propped-open front gate.

“An open gate invites an opportunist to break in.”

Michael (60) was raised in care. He spent his teens burgling schools, homes and businesses.

Break-in season: Home burglaries typically increase by 10% after the clocks go back in October each year

Intruder season: The number of burglaries in homes increases by about 10% each October, when the clocks are reset.

He is now a security consultant, helping people protect their home from burglary.

He is currently inspecting my home to make sure it’s burglar-proof. It seems that I am far from the first person who can benefit from his guidance.

Domestic burglaries have been on the rise since lockdowns in the UK last year.

Insurer Aviva received a third more claims for theft from homes in September compared to January — and it is expecting reports to rise further, as burglaries typically increase by 10 per cent after the clocks go back in October.

The festive season is a time when it’s easier to target our homes because we have more dark nights and family events.

You can reduce your insurance premiums by protecting your home against burglars.

Some insurance companies now provide incentives for customers who want to increase security at home.

Locking up: Reporter Rosie Taylor makes her home secure after receiving some useful tips

Rosie Taylor secures her home after she received some valuable tips.

Locket offers a monthly building and contents insurance at a discounted rate to those who have security devices such as smart doorsbells and cameras that link to their phones and notify them of suspicious activity.

Some insurers offer discounts for having an alarm and locks.

Your no-claims discount will be protected by any measures that help you avoid claims. This is around 10 per cent after one year up to a maximum of 40 per cent after five years — a saving of roughly £56 on the average home insurance policy.

Michael, who serves as an ambassador for Locket tells me that “Burglars are looking to get in and out fast with minimal hassle. Anything which shows they take security seriously will make them resentful.”

Here are some tips from ex-thieves to protect your property

  • Close your gate. Closed gates are a psychological barrier, but open ones attract opportunist thieves.
  • You can have more than one lock. You can use mortice locks with five levers (where the handle has to be raised to open the door), or deadlocks.
  • Keep your bathroom windows shut. Burglars could climb the pipes and enter through windows on the first floor.
  • Clean your alarm keypad. Having an alarm is a great deterrent — but make sure you wipe the keypad regularly or a burglar will be able to guess the code by seeing which keys are dirty or worn.
  • Get a smart camera or doorbell. They allow you to check who is coming and speak to them through your smartphone, even though you are miles away.

Thieves will avoid houses that have a Neighbourhood Watch sticker. One warning item is watermarked so it’s easier for the police to find stolen items. 

Working security alarm, blinds or visible locks on ground floor windows can also be used as deterrents.

Michael shakes his head as I explain to him that I don’t have any of these. He sighs, “Looking at it like a burglar, that shows you don’t take security seriously.”

Although it might seem that thieves will usually sneak around the back of your home, statistics from England and Wales indicate that criminals accessed homes through the front.

Michael invites me to come up to my front door, and to gently press my toes against the bottom.

It gives a little — which he explains is a clear sign I’m not using a deadlock. He says that anyone can quickly inspect the security of locks. This is because anyone could post a leaflet giving them an excuse for being outside your home.

Michael was able to see that the door had failed this test and he can now tell that it’s held closed by one Yale lock. Michael could force it open using a crowbar or use a hook from within with a wire coat hanginger. The letterbox doesn’t have any protective cages, so he couldn’t open it. My door chain is approved by Michael, though, as it adds additional security to my house if I am there.

Michael says that despite my joke about no one wanting to burgle you because there’s nothing worth stealing, it’s actually a common myth which leads people to be complacent when it comes security.

‘A burglar is looking for any gains they can get so they’ll grab laptops, phones and jewellery but also anything else that might be worth even £10 or £20,’ he says.

Aviva figures show the average claim for burglary is for £4,800 — but that does not include irreplaceable items which hold sentimental value. 

I’m shocked to discover that thieves may take belongings such as wedding photos or even a loved one’s ashes — and then demand money for their return from desperate victims.

You’d be surprised at how useful bits of paper are.

Get smart: Some insurers now offer incentives to customers to add security measures - such as smart doorbells - to their homes

Smart: Insurers offer incentive programs to help customers add security measures to their home, such as smart doorsbells.

Michael explained that personal data can be worth money nowadays, and a burglar would steal letters from the table, out of your mailbox, or even your recycle bin.

“They could sell the information to other criminals to copy your identity, or to use it to get a credit card under your name.”

It is an advantage to have neighbours on the other side of my home in mid-terrace. Burglars are looking for a quick escape from the spotlight so they will target detached and semi-detached properties that have side or rear access.

According to Churchill Home Insurance, almost one-third of burglaries on terraced streets take place in end-of-terrace houses. However, mid-terrace properties next to alleyways are common targets.

Flat dwellers on ground floors are twice as likely as those living on other floors to be burglarized.

Michael’s tips will be a great help in improving the security of our home. But could you save money by following these tips?

All depends on the insurer. Hannah Davidson, senior underwriting manager for Aviva, says: ‘Insurance policies are designed to cover a wide range of scenarios — theft risk is only one factor taken into account when pricing, so increased security devices may not automatically lead to lower premiums.’

Insurance companies may decline to pay your claim if the insured doesn’t consider reasonable precautions like locking your doors prior to going out.

Also, you must ensure that your policies provide minimum security. For example, windows and doors should be locked when you leave the room.

If a burglar finds a key outside of your house or leaves tools in unlocked garages or sheds, he or she might reject your claim.

It is important that you activate your alarm whenever you go out of your home. Your insurance may refuse to pay if the alarm wasn’t turned on during a break in.

You should immediately report any victim to the police. If they don’t respond within 24 hours, insurers could deny your claim.

Remember to read the small print of your policy. This will ensure that your insurance coverage is still valid in case you have to make a claim. It will also deter burglars from targeting you.


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