Six mistakes we all make when we leave home – according to a former burglar

Jenny Radcliffe uses her past as a burglar to help companies test their security (Picture: Rex Shutterstock)

Burglary. It’s a crime that fills us all with dread. Many of us have unfortunately been burgled in our lives, or know someone who has.

The impact of it isn’t just financial, its emotional, as victims are left unable to replace items of sentimental value or struggle with the trauma that comes with the invasion.

As a population, we Brits spend significant sums ever year on security systems to prevent burglary, but many of us are making simple mistakes that are leaving us vulnerable.

Meet Jenny Radcliffe, who has one unusual job. As a child in the 80s, for fun she would break into warehouses, museums and abandoned houses with friends, The i reports.

She now uses her experiences of breaking and entering to be a force for good and is hired by companies to test their security.

Even if you can’t afford to hire Jenny, she can still help you avoid burglars as she shares the common security mistakes we all make and how to avoid them.

Not being careful online

Did you know: 43% of burglaries are committed by someone the victim knows. It’s a sign of the times, as a burglar needs to know your daily routine. Where do they find this? Social media. Radcliffe says that burglars trawl social media sites for holiday snaps to see when people are not at home.

They even lurk on community groups looking for posts of people looking for help with broken windows or doors.

She says: ‘You wouldn’t have a sign on your front door saying ‘this house is unoccupied’ but we do in the digital realm.’

Many burglaries are committed by someone known to the victim (Picture: Getty Images)

Video doorbells

It’s estimated that more than one in five people in Britain have a smart doorbell in a bid to keep themselves safe from burglars. However, the thing we rely on to protect us could actually be opening us up to burglars.

Radcliffe says they are dangerous because ‘information is tracked and shared by providers, and any connected device can be hacked and this is a concern.’

Any device on a network can be hacked, and burglars may be able to keep an eye on your comings and goings. So, remain vigilant and don’t just rely on your cameras to keep you safe.

Presenting opportunities

Another way you might be enticing burglars to break into your house is by leaving things around that can give them a helping hand.

Radcliffe explains that often burglary is not very planned. Instead, burglars cruise around streets looking for vulnerable houses.

And what makes a house vulnerable? Radcliffe explains: ‘Mistakes include leaving a lot of tools and equipment around the house.

‘To protect yourself, put yourself in the mindset of the burglar. Stand outside your house and try to break in with what you have around. If you see any weak spots in your security, rectify it immediately.’

Leaving tools lying around can end in disaster (Picture: Getty Images)

Handing over keys 

This one hurts. When we give strangers access to our homes, like cleaners or gardeners, we are opening ourselves up to possible robbery. This is why Radcliffe recommends only giving keys to people who you know very well and trust.

She takes her search for trust quite far – researching her cleaner online and checking references. She also makes sure to tell a neighbour that someone will be in the house, and tried not to leave them alone for too long.

Forgetting simple deterrents 

The expert says: ‘[Burglars] don’t want to spend any time in this house, they want to be in and out, so make your house a harder target.’

It’s simple enough to make your home a more tricky target and even small details that make it look like you’re at home can be very effective.

You can puts lights on a timer or leave a radio on if you’ve popped out for a short time, which may be enough to convince burglars it’s simply not worth the gamble.

Try and make your home a difficult target for burglars (Picture: Getty Images)

Planting trees in front of the house 

Who would have thought your foliage would be letting you down? Planting trees in front of your house could be inviting burglars in, Radcliffe says.

And it makes sense when you consider burglars need somewhere to hide when they’re waiting to break in or making a quick getaway.

She suggests not having large plants or bushes directly under windows, and instead investing in gravel around your house and a good automatic light system. She says this makes your house ‘seem less like a simple job’ as burglars don’t want to be seen or heard.


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