I caught a few burglars in my time as a policeman and now I’ve done all I can to prevent thieves targeting my home
Like the would-be burglars who attacked the home of Andy and Tracey Ferrie in Leicestershire, a burglar came into my neighbour’s home recently, while most normal people slept. Unlike the Ferrie family, my neighbour didn’t have a shotgun. Instead, she bravely summoned up a scream which woke the household and caused the burglar to flee. Her children were traumatised by the experience.
I’m a very lucky man. I live with my family in a nice house in a leafy suburb. We have terrific families living next to us, who hand vegetables over the garden fence, find the time for a cup of tea, and often help out with the children. We also look out for each other. We have to, as our neighbourhood is frequently targeted by burglars.
By day, they prowl the streets targeting vulnerable houses. These opportunist thieves will attack a property in an instant. They climb through the open window or force the french doors, ransack the place, and make off with cash, jewellery, computers and Xboxes. Other burglars are a bit more strategic. Often they’re looking for high value cars parked on driveways, and will sometimes leave a colour coded mark on a fence, gatepost, or wall, to inform their cohorts. In the dead of night they return, creep into your house and make off with your keys and your Audi.
Everybody round here has a burglary tale to tell, be it victim, friend of victim, or as someone who has had their sleep disturbed by the police, who with their dogs and helicopters all try to catch these detestable thieves. I caught a few burglars in my time as a cop. Very few arrests were more satisfying for a uniformed officer than that rare capture of a burglar in the act. Most of the ones I caught had fled from the scene and were found hiding under cars, in gardens, and on one unforgettable occasion we nicked a man who became known as “the man from Atlantis”, because he hid from us for over an hour in a fishpond, which was covered by a sheet of corrugated iron. It was January and he nearly froze to death.
So what’s the right course of action when you come across a thief in your own home? It’s a question I don’t want to have to answer, so I’ve done all I can to prevent a burglar targeting our home in the first place. Follows these steps, and the chances are you will never have to deal with that question either.
Step No 1: replace your front door with one that doesn’t have a letter box. Burglars look through letter boxes, and put devices through them, including extendable fishing rods, with which they steal your keys as they hang in the hallway. It’s a no brainer, ditch the letter box.
Step No 2: fit a burglar alarm. The cost of these need not be prohibitive and they are a valuable deterrent. When you go to bed at night you can activate the zones that you don’t sleep in, meaning the ground floor of your home can be alarmed while you sleep soundly upstairs. The same principle can apply whether you live in a flat or a mansion.
Step No 3: fit CCTV to your home. Modern systems can be relatively inexpensive and look a whole lot better than the ugly earlier versions. The monitor can go in a garage, a loft or a cupboard and few burglars will want to be captured onscreen. Should your home be targeted, the police can be provided with valuable evidence.
Step No 4 (optional): get a dog. I don’t have one, but I know what a brilliant deterrent a loyal and loud dog can be.
And now for the obvious: close your windows and doors at night and when you go out. Fit security locks if need be. Follow these steps and the chances are you will never have to face the dilemma of what to do when a burglar breaks in. Sacrifice a holiday to pay for your security. We all have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our families and our possessions. Don’t let the thieves win, and don’t come crying to me if you ignore my advice and become a victim.
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