One of the most shocking statistics on our UK Burglary Statistics Infographic is that 59% of burglaries occur when the victim is still in the property. There are many different techniques that burglars will use in this scenario, but one of the most common is by means of distraction.
Distraction burglary is a method of entering a property which, instead of blatant ‘breaking and entering’, involves trickery. For example an intruder may pretend to be a gas meter reader, or offer some kind of service which requires a cash payment, pressuring or confusing the victim in to paying out. Alternatively distraction burglary can be quite literally that, someone distracting the home owner whilst an accomplice enters the property from another door.
The vulnerable and the elderly are particularly at risk of distraction burglary, statistics show the average age of victims is 78, 77% are female, and 74% live on their own. This is clearly a very cruel burglarising technique, breaching the trust of largely defenceless and unguarded individuals.
To help combat this, awareness is vital. We would now like to offer some tips for homeowners on how to avoid falling prey to distraction burglary.
1: No Cold Callers. A popular method of deterring would-be thieves is to have a sign, or a sticker, visible at your door proclaiming that you will not answer the door to anyone unexpected. This includes ‘door-to-door sales’, as well as any religious groups, charity collection, and so on. If someone persists to knock and you do not know, or are expecting them, do not open the door.
2: Peep Hole. With tip 1 in mind, common way of identifying who is at your door is a peep hole. These are easily installable devices fixed to your door at eye level and allow you to see who is on the other side of the door without them knowing you are looking. So, if your peep hole helps you to confirm that you do not know this caller, think carefully about opening the door.
3: Keep Doors Locked. When distraction burglary involves two people, (one talking to the victim at the door whist their accomplice enters the home from another access point) a simple but effective preventative step is suggested –keep all doors and windows locked. This may seem silly when you are at home, but considering the shocking statistic previously mentioned (59% of burglaries occur whilst the victim is home) it doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
4: Check for ID. If you do decide to open the door to someone you do not know, always check for official identification. As of laws passed in 2002, all cold callers are required to provide identification, and to explain the purpose of their visit upfront. If they do not do these things, or if you are still wary, you are fully within your right to turn them away.
5: Never Do Anything There and Then. If you are relatively sure that the person you are speaking to is an honest worker, book another visit. Never comply there and then with any payments or work, this is not good company practice and most legitimate companies will need time to schedule work and gather resources. If the person you are speaking to is willing to start immediately, think again.
6: Ask Your Friends or Family. In several cases, bogus workers have been stopped in their tracks after victims have informed their family or friends about the call, prior to a second visit. Scam artists will be a lot more cautious if they know family is now involved, and may well disappear. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask someone to double check for you.
We hope that these tips will help towards the prevention of distraction burglary. If you have any questions about the security of your home please call our locksmiths on 0800 0612 677 or visit our main site lockrite.org