Personal security

Burglary prevention and bogus caller advice

A house will be selected for burglary if it offers the fewest number of obstacles to carry out the crime undetected. An unoccupied and insecure building is far more likely to be targeted than one which is properly secure. If you can take measures that tell the burglar that this building is too difficult or too risky a target‚ they are more likely to move on.

Signs of an unoccupied building

  • Milk bottles or parcels on the doorstep
  • Newspapers and mail in the letter box
  • Unlit house after dark
  • All windows shut in very hot weather

Signs of an insecure building

  • Side gates open
  • Accessible windows open
  • Ladders left out‚ allowing access to otherwise inaccessible windows
  • Garden tools available to force entry
  • Untrimmed hedges or high fences preventing natural surveillance

The signs above could make the burglar want to take a second look. If you live in a multi-occupancy dwelling‚ be careful to who you allow entry through an entry phone system and be wary of people seeking to "tailgate" you into the building.

  • Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front door - burglars know all the hiding places
  • Prevent letterbox burglaries by storing keys away from the front door
  • Do not label your house keys in case you lose them and they fall into the wrong hands
  • Where possible‚ try to keep valuables out of sight from windows and fit a security light over your front door so there is no place to hide

Bogus callers, also known as distraction burglars, trick their way into people’s homes to steal money and valuables while the householder’s attention is elsewhere.
Most callers are genuine and mean you no harm but bogus callers can often seem very plausible and will try to fool you.

Safety and security in your home

Use a door chain and‚ if you can‚ a spy hole. This makes it easier for you to identify who is at the door without fully opening it.

If you do not currently have a chain or spy hole, arrange to have them fitted.

Valuables and money

  • do not keep large amounts of money in the house; and
  • do not leave valuable items in view or where they can be easily found.

What to do when someone calls

Before you go to the door

Make sure your back door and any accessible windows are closed and locked before you go to the front door.

Bogus callers often work in pairs. One of them will try to keep you talking at the front door while the other tries to get in through the back door or a window.

Look through your spy hole or window

Try to check who a caller is before opening the door. Don’t let any caller pressure you into making a quick decision - if you are unsure‚ do not open the door.

Put your door chain on

Before you answer the door, put your door chain on and keep it on while you check the callers’ identity.

If you want to check with their company, keep the door chain on‚ tell the caller you are going to call their company and close the door.

Does the caller have an identification card?

If the caller does not have an identification card‚ ask the caller to go away and close the door. If the caller persists‚ dial 999 and ask for the police.

If the caller does have an identification card, ask to see it:

  • Examine the card to see if it looks genuine
  • Check the expiry date - is it still valid?
  • Does the photograph on the card match the person at the door?
  • Check the photograph is the original – has anything been stuck over it?
  • If you want to call their company, do not use the telephone number on the caller’s identification card - if the identification card is not genuine then the telephone number on the card will not be genuine either.
  • Find the telephone number in your phone book, on a bill or call directory enquiries.
  • Ask the company to confirm they have sent someone out to you. They will ask you for information about the identification card, what the caller looks like and may also ask for the date of birth or password of the caller.
  • If you need to get more information from the caller, leave the door chain on at all times.

If the company does not know the caller, dial 999 and ask for the Police, who will tell you what to do.

Put your safety first

Sometimes bogus callers pose as someone needing help – perhaps a glass of water or access to a telephone. Put yourself first. Do not feel you are rude or uncaring by saying ‘no’ – your own safety is more important.

Remember‚ it is your home

If you are unsure‚ do not open the door and do not let the caller in.

This information has been taken from the Metropolitan Police and the Age UK websites.