1. Opportunity makes the thief: Close your windows
Thieves don't want to meet you any more than you want to meet them. They prefer to avoid people, lights and also work. They don't like any major hassle, like locked doors or barking dogs.
Thieves come only at night. Wrong again! Most burglaries happen in the daytime.
Whenever they see a good opportunity, such as an open or tilted window, they like to help themselves. This usually takes place during the daytime when no-one is at home – around midday or just before we come home from work, when it gets dark. Thieves will often observe the daily routines in their target properties and will even strike if the house or apartment is unattended for a short time. Therefore, always close doors and windows, even if you are only popping out to the shop round the corner.
2. Keep an eye on your things – even when you are in the house
Thieves rarely break down doors or smash windows. They prefer to pry them open with a screwdriver. It often takes them only a few seconds and they don't make any suspicious noises. Sometimes, they creep through basement windows or light wells, but usually they break in through patio doors or climb over balconies.
Open windows and doors, including tilt windows, bring a smile to every thief's face. Leave a purse, a smartphone or a laptop on the table and you are the thief's best friend. Theft without signs of forced entry into to your home is covered by your contents insurance. However, gross negligence can lead to reduced payouts.
3. You'll also encounter thieves when you're out and about – stay vigilant
Do you like to relax on the train, and even have forty winks after a hard day's work? That is good, because then you'll be a bit rested on your return home. Ideally, you'll still have your purse, wallet or smartphone on you, right? Always be cautious, never leave your valuables in public and unattended. Otherwise, even a thief with the best of intentions will not be able to resist. In addition, thieves often steal when you are distracted, e.g. in the crowds at the train station.
Do you often have valuables on you when out and about? Then you'll need the supplementary insurance cover for theft out of doors. Thefts that occur while you are out and about are not included in the basic cover of your content insurance.
4. Not likely to be back until 2 in the morning? Tell your neighbor, not the burglars
Do you always close all the doors and windows properly when you leave home? Do you leave some lights on or use timers to pretend that there is always someone at home? That's perfect. However, these measures are not effective if at the same time, you leave the key under the doormat, in the letter box or in a flower pot, or you stick a helpful note on the door, saying "Back at 2".
Talk to your neighbor about the issue of security: How and when can you help each other?
Other things that frighten off thieves include movement sensors and stickers on windows and doors, indicating that there is an alarm system. On the other hand, a full mailbox is an open invitation. If you are going to be away for some time, don't post your excitement on Facebook and don't mention your holidays on the answerphone. Tell your neighbors instead, and ask them to empty the mailbox.
5. Shutters, sensor lights and alarm systems: Seek professional advice
Good neighbors are a big hurdle for burglars: The less neighbors keep to themselves, the greater their willingness to keep an eye on one another's property. A sealed-off and overgrown patio not only offers protection from inquisitive glances but is also the ideal camouflage for burglars.
Along with conscious actions to make life hard for burglars, there are of course some structural and electronic measures that will keep out the thieves: Doors with multipoint locking systems, burglar-proof shutters, additional locks, window and light well grilles, sensor lights and alarm systems. Even so, you need a lot of expertise for these items, so it's best to get the advice of an expert.
6. There's a thief in the house, but not in your safe!
Thieves usually take cash and jewelry. If you leave them lying around the thief will have a field day. This is why a firmly installed safe is a good idea, best of all with a combination lock. If thieves suspect that there is a key to the safe somewhere in the house – and that is all too often the case – they will turn everything upside down until they find it. Important: A safe from the DIY store offers inadequate protection, so get a certified safe fixed to the floor or a wall by a qualified person.
Take photographs of your most valuable pieces of jewelry or watches and keep any receipts
Even if you have a safe, it is often the case that regularly worn jewelry is not kept in it. Therefore, the police recommends that you make a list of valuables, in which you enter the most important details relating to them, e.g. the brand, the replacement value and the date of purchase. It is best to include a photo and a receipt. This list should be kept outside your home or apartment – with someone you trust or in a bank deposit box.
7. Caught red-handed: Never play the hero
If you do unintentionally find yourself in the house at the same time as the burglar, never confront them. Leave the house and shout for help. If you can't do that, keep quiet and hide. If possible, call the police and stay on the phone.
Although burglars are usually not armed or violent, you should not take any risks. Give them the opportunity to flee and leave the search for the perpetrator and the stolen goods to the police. Even if you don't discover the theft until after the event, leave everything as you found it. Touch as little as possible; that way, you will make it easier for the police to secure evidence. But don't just stand around doing nothing. You should immediately contact the bank to block access to your e-banking accounts and change the passwords on your computers.
- Take advantage of free security consultations from the police or other security specialists.
- Take your valuables to friends or to a bank if you are going away for some time.
- Transfer photographs as quickly as possible from the camera to a different data carrier.
- Regularly check your sum insured. The value of your household contents increases with every new piece of furniture, TV or piece of jewelry.
- If the worst should happen, call the police and do not tidy the scene of the crime.