PREVENTION OF BURGLARY BY FORCIBLE ENTRY

These practical tips will protect you from being burgled at almost zero cost!

The crime of burglary by forcible entry is committed when an offender used a certain degree of force to neutralise a part of a property in order to gain entry without the knowledge of the property owner. Force can range from minimal to maximum and if the criminal remains within the property to commit his offence after the owners have vacated their property can also be termed as forcible entry.

What is ‘forcible entry’?

As implied by its name, this crime occurs when a criminal uses force to enter a structure and steal things. They may kick down a door or force open a window. Forcible entry also applies when the thief uses tools to break in or cut screens. Such tools also include the unauthorized use of keys or lock picks that don’t leave any damage or marks but allow the person to gain illegal access, nonetheless.

Although it doesn’t necessarily involve force, authorities include in this category thieves who hide in a structure in order to sneak out and commit burglary when everyone else has left.

To cite a situation, that you are living alone for some time because your wife and kids or parents have gone out of station. You decide to do overtime in the office because there is no one in the home expecting you. When you reach the front door of your flat you find the door seems stuck or loose, there are scratch marks on the woodwork near the latches and the lock, or you get in and find one of the windows pried open from outside at an odd angle or part of the glass pane broken with glass shards inside the house. You immediately reach out to your neighbours, call out your security guard of the building or call up your spouse asking if there was something wrong with the door or window or had anyone come to visit while you were out. When a thorough check is carried out by you, your neighbours and security guard and you find that there is no stranger lurking outside or any object which might indicate an accidental damage to the property then you have to be sure that this was a case of ‘attempted forcible entry’.

Legally speaking, Burglary is the intention to break into a building without any consent, with the intent of committing a crime inside. Burglary can be considered as specific intention of burglar who intentionally entering to building to commit a crime. Burglary is also called breaking or entering or housebreaking. This breaking can include actions such as forcing opening a door, or sneakily such as by fraud or threats etc. Entering means either physical entry by a person or any insertion of an instrument to remove property.  It is an unlawful entry into a building or any other location with an intention of committing an offence. Mostly this offence is theft, but sometimes many jurisdictions include these actions within the ambit of burglary.

Usually any type of forced entry is enough to satisfy this requirement.  Kicking the door in, prying the door open, and breaking the window all qualify as forced entry.  It's also enough for an accused person to open an unlocked door or lift an unsecured window to satisfy the use of force requirement.

Why should special attention be paid to the exteriors of the house?

Many owners and residents are unaware that burglars actually lookout for homes they can break into. This is because the criminal wants to get away with the maximum loot without being seen or identified and for obvious reasons of not being caught in the act. The burglar’s rationale for choosing his target is that if the owner does not care about the exterior of his home and ignores its appearance, it may be an easier target to hit. Front doors left open throughout the day right till late evenings, clothes left to dry outside windows and not picked up regularly, old toys, stuffed disused travel or plastic bags, dried up potted plants crammed into the safety grilles of the windows or kept in the balconies all give an impression to the criminal that the particular portion of the home is not used regularly or ignored by its owners. Hastily piled up clothes on the window sill, empty dust bins which have not been picked up from the front door for days, newspapers or milk packets lying around the front door also give out the signs of carelessness by the home owner to the criminal.

How to achieve Crime Prevention through Environmental Design?

Here comes in the principle of Maintenance which is crucial in CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design). Proper closing of main doors after using them, closing windows of common rooms after the use of that room, proper collection of articles such as dust bins and clothes which are left out during the day gives out the impression that the residents follow a routine in their home and are likely to notice when something is amiss. It doesn’t matter to the criminal if the house is occupied or not, but it does matter when the occupants of that house follow a routine which is executed efficiently every day. Cleaning of the house, cleaning windows and doors, replacing fused electrical fixtures is very critical in establishing that the home-owners maintain their house to a good living standard. 

LIGHTING:

The lighting of the interiors and exteriors of the home contributes to the effective deterrence and denial of burglars trying to scout and enter the premises. When the intensity of the light within the interiors of the house is more than required it leaves its occupants dazzled. Too much bright lights or various colours of lights make the eyes difficult to adjust to sudden darkness or natural light which is outside. Not only these lights light up your house brightly but also allow outsiders to see the actions within your house clearly from outside. This aids criminals in observing your inner layout of the house from a distance but also allows them to track your movements and make note of your routine in your home. You can use two types of lights, active and passive. Active lights are the ones which you use daily during night time and during cloudy days and passive lights are night lights which can be a night lamp or a corridor light or a small bulb outside the bathroom which allows you to adjust to the darkness easily when you suddenly get up from sleep in the night and helps you see parts of your house by its reflected light onto walls and objects within the house. 

The exterior of your house should have a proper flood light illuminating frequented and sparsely used areas within your building premises. This enhances not only the illumination at a near distance but along with the illumination caused by street lights near your buildings or house helps create zones of light which overlap thus negating shadows and dark areas to a great degree.

PETS:

Pets, especially canines, form a credible deterrence in thwarting away burglars. Dogs are a force multiplier in securing most properties because for one they have a heightened sense of vision, smell and hearing and other, is that they are extremely territorial. A small dog’s irritating bark can help in early detection and a large dog’s bark as well as ferocious character can create a formidable defensible space for the home owners. Dogs remove the element of surprise which is essential for the success of any burglary. They are a strong deterrent themselves and no criminal would like to be bitten or mauled by an angry canine. 

CLEAR THE MAIL:

An overflowing mailbox or letter tucked into the locked latches or handles of the outer door is clue enough for a burglar that the owners are not living in the house at that moment. Never allow mail or newspapers to accumulate in front of your doorstep. Engage neighbours or relatives living nearby to collect these items when you are away. This gives out the impression that the owners are receiving and collecting their mail on time and therefore if any criminal in guise a courier or a delivery boy tries to find out the whereabouts of the occupants, it gives them a good impression that the house is occupied or is being checked into daily. 

AWARE NEIGHBOURS:

Informed and aware neighbours are a big boost to the security of the home as well as the neighbourhood. Everyone who is looking out for anything amiss, broken or not in place in the neighbourhood is actually a capable guardian of these premises and thereby helps effectively deter many burglars because they will be able to pinpoint any person who stands out in the regular people who visit their premises.

WARNING SIGNS TO BE PUT UP:

Putting up signage like “Private Property”, “Trespassers will be prosecuted” deters criminals because they are aware that there will be “eyes from within” who will be watching the movements on the outside of the property. Making a burglar uncomfortable is half the battle won because thereafter he tends to think twice from the very start before entering such property and risk being caught.

SOCIAL MEDIA OVER-EXPOSURE:

People are now spending more of their lives on social media and putting up their personal information which is more than necessary. Photos and locations of their houses, its interiors, their new acquisitions and thereafter where they will be going to or having a good time by ‘tagging’ that particular location. Posting incessantly on social media timelines gives a very decent picture of your personality, social behaviour, your social circle and of course, the time when you are away from your house. A burglar with average intelligence can piece together a decent picture of the routine activities of an intended target by just following their posts on social media. Posting vacation pictures, night-outs with friends or for that matter displaying expensive acquisitions in one’s home gives the burglar enough information about when you are absent in your home and where all are these expensive items kept. Stop posting every event of your life on social media however tempting it may seem because there are silent watchers following your life every day. 

DEVELOP SOCIETAL NETWORK:

Socialisation in today’s scenario has become severely restrictive not because of time or space constraints but due to people segregating themselves upon their social status and thereafter adding ethnicity, religion and castes into the mix. Crime against a human does not differentiate between all of the above. The reasons for choosing a suitable target by an offender may vary but that is from his perspective of wanting to acquire what needs he desires to fulfil. So, breaking all type-cast social barriers if a person can look at security as a collective need he can convince and engage family, friends and social acquaintances to share his concerns of security and encourage them to be the ‘eyes and ears’ for each other. Social bonding does create vigilant communities who are proactive about their own security and employ similar methodologies in securing their families and homes.

PARKING AREAS:

 Parking lots in building complexes are generally earmarked for the residents and are honoured by them as a matter of social propriety. Whenever parking your vehicle in your parking space, a cursory glance around gives a person a fair idea of which are the regular vehicles parked in their slots and which all unknown vehicles have occupied space of other residents. Residents can propose to look after the cleaning of each other’s vehicles if one of them is out of station for a long period of time, so that the property does not give out visible signs of being unused to outsiders. Residents should also take care of not leaving their keys into the ignition of their vehicles even if they are to park it temporarily in the midst of carrying out a series of errands for their households.

TRASH MANAGEMENT:

Removal of trash is one indicator which gives burglars a fair idea that the house is unoccupied. Trash left languishing out for days is a direct indicator that the residents are out of the house. Therefore, residents must be regular in clearing out their daily garbage and ensure that if they are leaving town for a certain period of time, the trash disposal should be done a night prior or on the day of their departure before they lock up and move out of their house. Residents should as far as possible not encourage hired help to come after they have moved out of the house to visit their house only for trash disposal as it signifies that the place has been abandoned in a hurry and the place is vacant for that period.

PREVENT BURGLARY AT ALMOST ZERO COST!

Residential burglary is a real threat even if it does not involve harm to human life. Burglars are opportunistic and are always looking for their next victim. Therefore, simple modifications in the dimensions of your locks, latches and bolts; keeping your living space neat and tidy; maintaining your balcony gardens; using white lights to illuminate areas at your entrances, corridors and entrance pathways; having pets and signage alerting outsiders about their presence deters many capable offenders from selecting the place for burglarizing. See your home through a burglar’s eyes and try to break in and that is where you will understand which all are vulnerable points use common sense methods to improve it. These methods which come at a minimal cost of being mentally aware and agile significantly reduce your chances of being a victim. Proactive attitude and methods towards securing one’s living space goes a long way in deterring criminals from marking out your people, property and possessions as their next prize.    

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