A burglary occurs in Australia every three minutes and the end-of-year holiday period is peak season. The best way to protect your home against burglary is to know how burglars think.
Edith Cowan University Criminology and Psychology researcher Dr Natalie Gately spoke to 120 active adult and juvenile burglars, who gave her the low-down on their tricks of the trade.
The five key observations for vigilant householders to keep in mind are:
"Some burglars may not be planning a burglary. They may just pass a house and see something that's easy and available for them to get, while others may be trawling the area looking for a suitable house to burgle," Dr Gately said.
"Daring burglars may even take opportunities to come into your house if they see you're distracted and there's something quick and easy for them to take, such as your car keys."
"Burglars are usually in and out of your home within 10 minutes and empty homes and quiet streets are particularly inviting," Dr Gately said.
Dr Gately's research found the biggest deterrent for burglary is a dog, followed by alarms and security doors and windows.
"Less than a third of Australian homes have any sort of security system installed," she said.
"Two-thirds of active burglars reported entering homes through open doors and windows. Always remember to lock up and get to know your neighbours," Dr Gately said.
"Most burglars can tell the difference between a house that's occupied and an attempt to disguise your absence, such as leaving the television on or a light on for hours.
"If that's your only form of security, you're better off to get a dog or an alarm," Dr Gately said.
The high costs of burglary
Burglaries cost the country around $1.6 billion each year, however the emotional cost is impossible to measure.
"Research has shown that intrusion into a person's private space causes significant psychological trauma in around 20 per cent of cases.
"It pays to know how a burglar thinks so that people can hopefully prevent their homes from becoming targets," Dr Gately said.
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