Operation Castle


Most burglaries tend to be opportunistic rather than planned. So if your home does not look secure, seems unlived in, or provides unobserved access, it could be at risk. Understanding what burglars look for when choosing their target will help you identify weak spots in your home's security.



10 Top Tips:

  1. Install a visible burglar alarm and use it.
  2. Do not leave your car keys or ID documents near doors, letterbox or windows.
  3. Mark or etch your property with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name (getting a bit tired, this routine) or better, buy a forensic marking kit.  That way, if you move, you just register the new address.
  4. Register items with a serial number at: www.immobilise.com or the register associated with the property marking kit.
  5. Always check who’s at the door and don’t open it if you feel anxious.
  6. Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes.
  7. Keep your valuables out of sight.
  8. Leave some lights on if it will be dark before you get home.
  9. Always keep sheds and outbuildings locked.
  10. Cancel milk or other deliveries if you will be away for days or weeks at a time.

Another top tip: Run through the free and anonymous Home Security Survey at the Crime Prevention website.

How does a burglar's mind work?

Burglary, on the whole, is an opportunist crime. A burglar will select his target because it offers him the best opportunity to carry out his crime undetected and with the fewest number of obstacles in his way. A building that presents itself as unoccupied and insecure is far more likely to be targeted than one which is properly secured:

  • 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

Each of these makes access to the building far simpler and is an indication to the prospective burglar that it's worth a second look.

Residents of multi occupancy dwellings or flats should be mindful not to grant entry to people via an entry phone system, if they do not know them, and to be cautious of people seeking to 'tailgate' them into buildings.

The question is, are the occupants in?

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

These are signs telling the burglar that he is unlikely to be disturbed in the course of his work. Naturally, circumstances may arise when such situations may be unavoidable. If we can take measures that tell the burglar that this building is too difficult or too risky a target, he will hopefully move on.

Are you leaving a thief the key to your house?

  • 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.

Remove temptation

  • Where possible, try to keep valuables out of sight from windows.

Make it look as though your house is occupied

  • Install timers which switch lights or radios on and off automatically.
  • Have a neighbour or friend pop round to clear your letter box or doorstep.
  • Encourage a neighbour to park on your drive.
  • If going out after dark, draw the curtains, leave some lights on and a radio playing.

If you are away for extended periods.

  • Set your burglar alarm.
  • Cancel the delivery of milk and newspapers
  • Disconnect the telephone answering machine, or re-word your greeting message to give the impression that you are only temporarily unable to answer.
  • Enlist the help of a neighbour, friend or relative to keep a regular eye on your property and keep the front door clear of deliveries.
  • If you are prepared to leave a key with a willing neighbour/relative, ask for curtains to be drawn and lights to be put on at night. If snow is on the ground a few footprints will make the house appear inhabited.
  • Check your insurance policy. Some insurance policies for contents don't cover you if you are away for more than 30 days.

Remember: Remove the Opportunity - Prevent the Burglary



I was recently burgled whilst on holiday (the day before I returned!).  I did everything right, i.e. all doors and windows locked - including a dead lock on the front door - a timed side light in the lounge but did not know what to do about the curtains.  If they are drawn closed during the day burglars know that the occupants are away.  If they are open at night it is possible to see in when the light comes on and see that there appears to be no sign of life.

With this dilemma in mind I had the curtains partly drawn; not open and not closed, and hoped that this would do the trick.  I have lived in this house for 36 years and this is the first time I have been burgled.  

What should I do about the curtains when I next go on holiday?  I will have a basic alarm by that time and a PIR light on the back door (the method of entry in this instance) but as I live on the corner of the road there is a street lamp that shines on the front door of the house and another one, part way down the side turning, that shines on my garden and back door.  



No one lives in only one room. When you are at home you move about the house and have lights on it two or three rooms if not more. You need to have lights on time switches in several places. You can then leave curtains closed up-stairs. Don't forget to put the radio on a time switch - not digital radios.


Hi PearlR

My thought on the matter is to put a timed light in an adjacent room with the door ajar and leave the curtains open. It then may appear that you are at home but in another room but will not highlight your posessions.

I hope this helps you and others.




Don't leave your porch light on burglars will know you are out


Hi dear all .One of our neighbours informed us that our back garden door has been unlocked
It looks like it's been broken professionally! I have complained to the Redbridge council, who also deal with these complaints!
Took some pics that very instance, and have informed our landlord too.Thank It happens in unoccupied homes, and especially it's a must to leave lighting on before going out some Keep and make sure windows and doors ,are secured . Took some pics that very instance, and have informed I just noticed that the alley gate is locked, very strange who did it?took The red pin kind of thing is missing which is used to open or make a The red pin has bin turned the other way round
I was with my landlord, he has noticed it on his earlier visit today , I had explained to him what happened. There was something else I noticed very unusual, was the door was locked and the red pin was turned round, the other way. Landlord said he informed my brother inlaw's friend who lives upstairs who fixed it around 8.30pm ) I'm wondering My husband and I were at home. Landlord also noticed today, our main garden door tampered. Very strange. I was advised by one of my neighbours, i should have contacted the police.


Hi Momina, your neighbour had the right idea, a call to 101 under the circumstances you describe, would have been the appropriate  course of action.

Of course if you had seen anyone, then 999.