Firstly, be reassured… 75% of burglaries are abandoned when the burglar hears someone in – or returning to –the property. 86% of intruders said that if they were in the property and realized that someone was at home, they would try to leave the property without meeting them. (Figures from Churchill Home Insurance research.)
In reality, the chances of meeting a burglar in your home are slim. Should you be unlucky enough to meet one, what are your rights? Churchill Home Insurance’s research also found that just 45% of the UK population understands there is a legal definition of reasonable force. This means that millions of people don’t know how assertive they can be when protecting themselves or other occupants if they encounter an intruder in their home.
Feedback showed that...
- 13% people don’t think there are any laws addressing their right to protect themselves or their family against an intruder.
- 5% participants mistakenly believe they are legally allowed to set traps in their home to harm potential intruders.
In fact, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is very specific in their guidance regarding the use of force against intruders. While highlighting that wherever possible, householders should call the police, the CPS state “anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime”. However, the level of force used must always be reasonable in the circumstances the householder believes them to be. If a householder’s trap was to harm a burglar or intruder they could be prosecuted for acting with very excessive and gratuitous force.
The Burglars’ Response
- 46% of burglars know of occupants’ increased rights to protect property.
- 66% said this change had made little difference to the way they approached burglary as they were very careful not to meet their victims in any case.
- 19% said that the change in the law had made them undergo additional occupancy checks to ensure they didn’t meet the householder and risk confrontation.
Martin Scott head of Churchill home insurance said: “Burglars will usually target properties which look unoccupied and provide an easy entry and exit point, so that they can get away undetected. The chances of meeting a burglar are very slim but we urge householders to follow some simple steps to make burglars avoid their home. Making the property look occupied, having locks on doors and windows, remembering to lock all access points including garages and sheds and removing valuables from sight are all basic measures to help prevent burglary.”
Top Tips to Protect Your Home
The following advice is offered by the police:
- Lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house, even when you're just out in the garden, remembering to double-lock UPVC doors (lift handle and turn key)
- Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight and away from the letterbox (remember a device could be used to hook keys through the letterbox)
- Install a visual burglar alarm
- Install good outside lighting
- Get a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your property
- Leave radios or lights in your house on a timer to make the property appear occupied
- Make sure the fences around your garden are in good condition
- Secure bikes at home by locking them to an immoveable object inside a locked shed or garage
- Keep ladders and tools stored away; don't leave them outside where they could be used to break into your home
- Ensure side gates are locked to prevent access to the rear of the property
- Ensure rear fencing is in good repair
- Improve natural surveillance at the front of your property i.e. trim high hedges
- Mark your property with postcode and house number and register your property for free with Immobilise
- Consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
- Remove valuables from view of ground floor windows
- Store any high value items (i.e. jewellery, passports) in a properly secured safe or bank vault
Some home insurance companies provide advice regarding home burglaries. Contact your provider to see what advice they offer about protecting your home – and what to do should your home be broken into.