A burglary in your own home is a devastating experience that can affect you and your family long after the incident has occurred. The good news is that the risk of becoming a victim of burglary in Sussex is low and since launching Sussex Police's initiative to tackle burglary under the banner of Operation Magpie in 2012, there has been a year on year reduction in burglary dwellings across Sussex.
- Keep all wallets, purses, credit cards and car keys out of sight and out of reach.
- If you leave your house empty, even if you are in the back garden, lock all the doors and windows.
- An intruder alarm can be an effective deterrent against burglars, seek advice to ensure it is the most suitable for your needs.
- Make it a habit to mark your valuables by using your postcode and house number or name.
- Some articles are unsuitable for marking so photograph them next to a ruler.
- Register your property at immobilise.com, it's free of charge and can increase your chances of being reunited with your property. Watch how easy it is in our video:
- Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.
- When you go out in the evening, always leave a light on in a room that can not be peered into from the road.
- Fit security lighting - either dusk to dawn energy efficient lighting that will come on automatically as dusk sets in, or infrared activated lighting which draws attention to movement.
In the garden
- Ensure that gates or access to the rear of the house are locked and secure.
- Trim overgrown plants - don't give burglars a hiding place.
- Secure garden tools and ladders in a locked shed or garage to prevent them being used to break into your home. Fit outside security lighting and a visible burglar alarm to help deter burglars.
Some burglars prey on people’s trust and kindness and use distraction as a means of getting into your home.
A distraction burglar / bogus caller's intention is to trick people into allowing them into the property, or create a diversion so an accomplice can sneak in.
Because elderly or vulnerable people are often targeted, distraction burglary can have a devastating effect - victims can lose their confidence and peace of mind, as well as money and possessions.
Distraction burglars make up a story to get into your home, with only one intention - to steal! They often pose as a tradesmen or officials or ask for your help with something:
Playing for sympathy - "I've broken down, please can I use your phone?" "I don't feel very well, could I use your toilet or get a glass of water?"
- Lost ball - "I've lost my ball/my son's lost his ball, please could I look for it in your garden?"
- Good Samaritan - "I've just caught someone climbing out of your window, I think they might have stolen something. We need to check your money hasn't been taken."
- Using children - "Hello could my son and I come in to ask you some questions for his school project?"
- Fake emergency - "There's a gas leak/flood in your road, I have to come in to turn off your supply."
- Leaving a note - "I've popped round to see my auntie/friend who lives next door, but she's out at the moment. Please could I borrow a pen and paper to leave a note?"
Some work alone, but often they work in groups of two or more, usually one person will knock at your door with a convincing excuse that seems genuine or urgent. The talker will persuade you to let them into your house and keep you occupied whilst others sneak in and search your house to steal cash and valuables.
Distraction burglars can be men, women or children and sometimes a combination, smartly or casually dressed.
Be vigilant of unknown people calling round
- Don't let anyone into your home that you don't know. Always ask for identification - official visitors won't mind being asked for ID.
- Fit a door chain, if you have a solid front door, fit a wide angle door viewer.
- If you were not expecting anyone, explain that you need to check they are legitimate and ask them to wait outside for a few minutes. Take a note of their name and the company they claim to be working for and then close and lock the door.
- Look up the phone number for the company in a telephone directory or on the internet and check they have an employee of that name and that they are visiting you on legitimate business. Never just take someone's word for it and don't use any phone number they give you to check their identity - you don't know if it's a genuine number.
- If someone is asking for a favour, such as to use your toilet, borrow a pen or retrieve a ball, don't let them in. Instead direct them to a shop, office or public place. It's only natural to want to help someone, but sadly that's one of the techniques often used by distraction burglars.
- If you have any concerns about someone who has called at your door, call police immediately. If you have a chance try to note what they look like and any vehicle they have with them, so police can investigate.
Some victims of distraction burglary shared their stories with us, in the hope that it will help prevent others from suffering. Read the stories here.
Burglars know the price of everything but the value of nothing. The best defence against burglary is prevention.
In an emergency, or if you see a crime in progress, always call 999
In Sussex, Operation Magpie is our response to burglary. This operation sees us working with our partner agencies with the aim of preventing burglary and, when it does happen, finding those responsible and searching for your stolen property as quickly as possible.
Our recovered property site is another way of reuniting stolen property with their rightful owners.
We work throughout the year to raise awareness of the steps you can take to keep your home secure.