You don’t have to feel unsafe: tips for guarding against burglaries

Houses all over Cardiff are being burgled every day and rarely just one or two. What can you do to keep yourself safe?

It is good practice to make a police report, even if nothing is stolen. Photo:  Pierre Herman

When the police knocked on my door at the end of January to ask about suspicious people on my street, my first thought was, “What on earth is a reverse burglary?”

My second thought was how strange it was that I’d gone four-and-a-half years living in Cardiff without interacting with police much beyond a smile after making eye contact, yet this was now the second time in as many months where I had officers in my home.

The first instance was after a strange man forced his way inside in the middle of the day. My housemates and I were on edge for weeks after. Who was he? Why our house? The most unnerving part was that he came in while we were home.

Thankfully nothing was stolen. Or left behind. As I found out, a reverse burglary happens when someone breaks in but instead of stealing, leaves something behind. For my neighbours, it was a pair of men’s shoes.

The worst sort of burglary though is when your possessions are taken. In 2019 there were a total of 2,235 reported burglaries in Cardiff. However, many attempted burglaries go unreported.

Molly Johnson, whose house on Rhymney Street was one of at least three in Cathays to be burgled on the same day said about the police, “It’s so easy to dismiss students, I think! They were really lovely and understanding and I felt like I was being taken seriously.”

After taking a statement and dusting for fingerprints, the police left some tips for personal and home safety.

1. Before you leave the house check that all windows and doors are locked.

Make it a habit to always check your locks as burglars often enter through unlocked doors.

This may seem obvious, but everyone forgets sometimes. It is also a good idea to check that everything is secure before bed. Molly and her housemates were asleep when their house was burgled at around 7:20 a.m.

2. Always confirm the identity of whoever is at your door if you’re not expecting anyone.

You do not have to answer the door if you don’t recognise the person on the other side.
Photo: Dmitry Ratushny

Burglars might try to enter your house under false pretences. When the intruder in my house was questioned, he claimed to be there to check our meters. However, our energy company confirmed that they hadn’t sent anyone.

3. Keep valuables stored away.

If a burglar does make it into your house, make it harder for them by keeping your items out of reach. Photo: Eugene Chystiakov

Intruders do not want to be in your house for very long as the chances of being found increase the longer they’re there. If portable, high value items such as laptops are left out in the open, it’s easy for a burglar to be in and out of your house within minutes.

4. Avoid alerting others as to when you won’t be home.

Lights and sound might give the impression that someone is home.

Potential burglars might become aware that you’re away through social media posts. When you do leave, make it appear as if someone is home by for example having an automatic system to turn on your lights.

5. Make a report if you see something suspicious happening.

You can call the police non emergency number if you see something that makes you uneasy.

The officers responded to my report by increasing surveillance in the area. A burglar is less likely to target an area where there’s an obvious police presence.

There’s no way to guarantee that there won’t be a knock at the door while you’re in bed – or a broken window when you come home. But at the very least, these tips will make you a little bit safer than you were yesterday.