Every year we look forward to holidays and weekend getaways, we love to explore our own or other countries. But did you know that these are the exact moments when most burglaries occur? In fact, 7 out of 10 times breaking and entering takes place when no one is at home…
According to the information from el Ministerio del Interior, up until now there have been 31.9% less burglaries in the year 2020, and there is an easy explanation for this: COVID-19. Everyone was at home these past couple of months!
Now that the lockdown is over, it is good to know what you yourself can do to prevent burglaries from happening. In this article you can read 11 practical tips. Use them wisely, especially when you leave home for the weekend or a longer period of time.
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Safety when not at home: 11 ways to prevent burglaries
Many advanced security systems are available on the market, and they help you monitor and safeguard your house or apartment. Today, however, we will discuss a number of tactics you can use to prevent breaking and entering in your home.
And this advice is not only useful if you live in Barcelona, but also when you are enjoying your holiday accommodation in the city. Just check our list and do what you can to discourage break-ins during your absence.
1. Keep windows and doors closed
Although this might sound a bit too obvious, it is one of the most important measures you can take when it comes to securing your home or apartment. Before you go out, check whether all doors and windows are shut and locked, also those that lead to a shared balcony.
Sometimes your apartment building has entrances to shared facilities (like a basement or garage) or patios. These are especially favourite with thieves, as they make it easy to breaking and entering into a building.
2. Do not completely close the blinds
You want to do everything you can to make it difficult for burglars to break in, so you should let them have the impression that you are at home. If you close everything (blinds, shutters, etcetera), they are more likely to think that the owners are not at home. If you leave the blinds open just a bit, and you leave a light on, there is less chance that your house will attract the attention of uninvited guests.
3. Don’t disconnect the doorbell
Some people disconnect the doorbell, since there is no-one there to answer the door anyway. The police, however, strongly advise against doing this, because for many burglars this is the best way to check if someone is at home. If the doorbell does not ring at all, they assume the house is empty.
4. Talk only with people you trust
Even if you are over the moon to go on holiday, don’t express this joy loud and clear inside a busy supermarket, for example, because you never know who is listening.
5. Times you leave the house
If you need to leave your home and you are not bound to certain times, then go out as early as possible. The chances of you being seen whilst doing it are smallest, and the less a burglar knows about your absence from home, the better.
6. Just as if
This is one of the most effective ways to keep burglars walking past your house. As already said before, your house will not be noticed if nothing seems out of the ordinary. So if the lights are on as usual, this works, but what if you don’t have a time switch to automatically turn on the lights during your absence? If there is someone you trust, check if they will do this for you. He or she can also empty your mailbox or turn on the sound of your TV or radio every now and then.
7. Being a good neighbour
Neighbours can play an active role in keeping the entire neighbourhood safe during the holiday season. It is therefore important to get acquainted with everyone. If there is something out of the ordinary, neighbours can alert the police. And there’s nothing more effective to keep thieves out of the area, than a police car driving up and down the street…
8. Store your valuables in a safe place
The perfect theft for a burglar is a quick and easy, but valuable theft. So keep whatever is of value to you in a safe and secure location. This can be a safe inside your house, but you can also store your valuables at special places when you are on holiday.
9. Be aware of your possessions
Authorities recommend that you make an inventory of what you actually own. A list of all your belongings may seem a bit exaggerated, but this is, in fact, the only way to know exactly what is inside your home. Electronics, cash, jewellery, art… Make a list of everything that is of value to you, and also note its characteristics, brand and serial number. If you add photos, that is even better!
10. Have a security system installed
You can always have a good security system with various elements installed, such as an alarm, armoured doors and chain locks. You can also hire a company to turn on the lights at certain times via your home automation system. Often you prefer a certain setting per season, but you can also activate a holiday setting. How about adding the sounds of a big barking dog when someone rings your doorbell?
11. An extra set of keys
Only in movies do they still leave a key under the doormat. Unfortunately this is not a good idea in real life anymore… Make sure you leave an extra set of keys with family or friends. That way, if necessary, there will always be someone who can go and check inside your house.
What to do in case of a burglary?
If you have been the victim of a burglary, it is important to know what steps to take upon discovery. Sometimes it is hard to think clearly when you notice a break-in in your home, so make sure you don’t make any mistakes during the process.
What should you do when your house or apartment has been broken into:
- First go to the police station to report it. This is a very important step, although it is not compulsory, but only as soon as you have reported the matter, the police can start their investigation in the case. You will then have a better chance of getting any of your belongings back. Your insurance company also needs this report.
- You can report it at any Mossos d’Esquadra police station.
- Although it is best to do this as soon as you have discovered the break-in, there is no specific time frame for the report.
- Don’t forget to bring identification with you (NIE, passport or driving license).
- Make sure you have invoices for valuables that have been stolen. This way you can prove what exactly is missing, and what it was worth.
- If you have seen the thief, provide the police with as many details as possible.
- Take a look at the surrounding area after the burglary. Maybe there are security cameras at ATMs or nearby shops. There may actually be more information available than you might think.
- Althoug it concerns your own home, when there has been a burglary, you should not touch anything until after the police have been able to secure any evidence.
Victim of a burglary, but no insurance
You need an insurance in order to claim something back after a burglary. It might be tempting to do without insurance for a little while, but this only results in a lot of stress and many sleepless nights if something bad happens during that exact period. So having an insurance saves you a lot of trouble.
However, if you don’t have any insurance, still follow the steps we mentioned above. You cannot claim compensation with an insurance company, but you can hope and pray for the police to find some of the stolen items back. There are no guarantees, but it does sometimes happen.
Have you bought a house or are you renting accommodation? If so, always remember to take out a good insurance policy, and always read the small print to make sure it is the right insurance for you, for your budget and for your specific property.