A recent investigation by the insurance company Hiscox found that expats who leave the country for extended periods of time, and subsequently leave behind untended properties, often utilise a number of bizarre tactics to try and deter burglars from looting their empty homes.
Some of these unorthodox methods included sewing valuables into curtains, burying goods in the garden, and leaving unwanted ‘decoy’ goods in an attempt to trick would-be thieves into missing the real valuables.
But the question is do these methods actually work? Is turning you home into a veritable treasure hunt really the best way to hang on to your most cherished goods? Well according to Andrew Cheney, Senior Risk and Valuation Advisor at Hiscox UK, probably not: “Homeowners can be quite creative in their attempts at securing their valuables. However, many of their inventive hiding places are quite obvious to most thieves, and there’s also the danger of forgetting them. What happens when you take the clothes or shoes you’ve hidden away your jewellery in to the dry cleaners or have a wardrobe clear out?”
Cheney goes on to say that a more conventional, thought-out, battle plan is far more effective than stuffing family heirlooms into a hollowed-out Bible: “It’s far better to prevent thieves from being able to access your home in the first instance. Think of your property with rings of security – from the outer perimeter of your garden and driveway to the inside of your home. There are ways of securing your boundaries and driveway, followed by the main property and outbuildings. Then you can think about added protection for your valuables inside the home. This technique has the effect of wearing an intruder down”, he said.
Taking Mr Cheney’s advice, the trick would be to establish rings of security for your property.
Starting with the first ring, the perimeter, your property will be all the safer if there are actual physical barriers that will cause intruders problems from the onset of their nefarious activities, for instance trees, walls or fences. Also, motion sensor lights and noisy, gravel paths are a massive deterrent, as the invader will be all too aware of the spectacle they are making.
Next stage is the home itself. Equip the property with sophisticated locks and alarms, the more hassle the criminal encounters, the more likely he is to scarper empty handed. If you have outdoor buildings, like a shed or garage, then make sure these are also adequately secure as crooks love to get their hands on expensive gardening, sports or vehicular equipment.
If the robbers do manage to get past your security systems and you have small, expensive valuables then the trick isn’t a sneaky hiding place, it’s a nice, solid, safe. With a robust safe the criminals won’t have a chance of stealing your goods and they will be protected whilst you’re away.
Finally, a great way of protecting an empty home from burglaries is by giving the impression that it’s not actually empty at all. Look into time operated lights, and get your friends to pop in every now and then to give the premises an ‘occupied’ feel.