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Having your home broken into is an experience many of us fear – but there are things you can do to lower your risk of being targeted.
Over the past year the amount of burglaries in England and Wale have dropped by 30%.
However, with the darker nights and offices encouraging staff to return to work, burglaries are expected to surge by 20%.
In order to find out what makes burglars more likely to target a home, security retailers safe.co.uk spoke to ex-burglars and unfortunate victims of theft.
With the insight they provided, experts have come up with advice on how to stop your home from being targeted, as well as what you should do in the event of a burglary.
Here are things burglars look for when targeting houses:
People packing up to go on holiday
According to a victim of burglary, the thief in question had seen their parents loading the car to go skiing. They added: "When we got back they'd taken everything".
Safety experts recommend taking any luggage to the car or taxi swiftly.
They said: "The longer you take to pack up a car, the more chance a burglar has of seeing that the homeowner is leaving the property, giving them optimum time to plan their theft, and potentially tell other people too."
Houses without dogs
According to a home owner, having a dog is the only reason their house hasn't been touched by thieves.
The person, who has been witness to a burglary, said: "Everyone’s house in the area has been burgled, except ours. The difference is, we have a Dachshund and a 'Beware of the Dog' sign on the fence."
Security experts say dogs can be useful for two reasons. The first one is that they may miss out a house completely if there is a sign saying 'beware of the dog'. This is because the dog may threaten their safety, and may make them more likely to get caught.
They continued: "Secondly, a barking dog alerts the owners that someone is approaching the property, they detect noise quicker than humans, which gives a clear advantage."
No outdoor lights
A former burglar admitted that they "always skip the house with big outdoor security lights".
Anthony at safe.co.uk recommends turning all your outdoor lights on where possible.
He added: "A house in the dark could appeal to a burglar as it looks like nobody is in the property, and there could be an assumption that the owner is asleep or not at home.
"Any dark or shadowed areas are ideal for a burglar to try to approach the house undetected, making security lights essential in the new season."
Bins and deliveries left out
When you go away for an extended period of time, experts recommend asking a neighbour or friend to help with the bins, deliveries, and anything else that can signal to a burglar that you're not home.
An ex burglar recommends that you "don't leave our deliveries or bins" because thieves who are operating in that area will "see that and know you''re not home".
Security experts said: "If you are going away for an extended period of time, ask a trusted neighbour or friend to maintain any elements that could be an advertisement for burglars."
Beware repeat offenders
According to an ex burglar, a criminal is likely to “come back to the same houses quite often”.
They continued: “They do this because of a number of motives. It's guaranteed that the people they robbed replaced the stuff they stole the first time, and often these replacements are of better quality than the original."
Anthony Neary, managing director for safe.co.uk, urges people that have been burgled ensure that "extra security measures such as CCTV, alarms and locks are in place to prevent it happening again."
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