Be smart and beat the burglar

Residents are being advised to take a few simple precautions to help prevent against falling victim to winter burglary.

It's a sad fact that there's usually a rise in burglaries after the clocks go back, as opportunist thieves can target homes left empty in the darkness. Chiltern and South Bucks Community Safety Partnership is working on an initiative targeting residents who get home after dark in the winter months. If a house is left in darkness, it appears unoccupied and is therefore more likely to be burgled.

Simple measures such as using timer light switches and remembering to lock doors and windows at all times, could help prevent that. There are also many smart devices to help protect your home. Smart doorbells allow you to see who is at the door via your phone even when you are outside the home. Smart plugs and light bulbs can also be activated using WiFi meaning you can turn lights, radios and televisions on and off all from outside of your home, mimicking that someone is inside your property.

Burglary awareness events will take place from November through to the beginning of January next year. Thames Valley Police officers and Chiltern and South Bucks District Council's Community Safety team will be at locations across the district, such as railway stations and supermarkets, providing information about how to secure homes effectively against burglaries.

Simple measures to help reduce the chance of your home becoming the next target:

  • Don't leave your home in darkness advertising the fact there is no one at home. Invest in a timer light switch and vary the time it comes on each day to make it look more natural. It can also be used with a radio or TV to give the impression that someone's home. If you are leaving a light on make sure it's a room that cannot be looked into from the road
  • Perhaps purchase a fake/simulated TV device which lights up a room like a real TV.
  • Keep valuables out of sight and mark them with your house number and postcode using a UV pen.
  • Register your valuables via Immobilise and keep an inventory list. It's free and takes just a few minutes.
  • If you have jewellery at home, photograph it for insurance purposes and store it in a suitable safe.
  • Lock your doors and windows, if you have a UPVC door make sure you have double locked it by lifting the handle and locking it with the key. Make sure the key is removed from the lock and out of reach.
  • Look out for your neighbours' houses, especially when they're not at home and call 999 immediately if you see anything suspicious. If you want to report something which does not require an immediate response call Thames Valley Police's non-emergency number 101.
  • If you are not a member of a Neighbourhood Watch Group you can find details of your local group by contacting the Community Safety Team on 01494 586535. If no such group exists in your area, then consider establishing your own group.

South Bucks District Council's Portfolio Holder for Community says: "Many of us leave our homes before sunrise and return in darkness during winter, which is why it's so important to ensure your home does not look inviting to criminals. Using timer switches and other smart devices to simulate your home is occupied is an easy and effective way to deter an opportunist burglar."