According to the Telegraph we’re all guilty of minor crimes that many of us commit on a daily basis… I’m looking at you! These micro crimes include things such as eating or drinking (non-alcoholic of course) whilst driving, downloading music illegally and riding a bike on the pavement. Certainly, our mini misdemeanours have consequences, but it’s hard to conceptualise them as ‘real’ crimes when there is no obvious victim and the act causes minimal harm or loss.
So how does the UK stack up against others regarding crime?
Well… according to the UK Peace Index, in comparison to a host of other European countries, the UK has had the largest decrease in crime rates over the past decade, so hooray for living in a peaceful country! Looking at the statistics from across the world on the 2016 Crime Index, living in Manchester seems like a dream in comparison to Brazil, USA and South Africa who all have multiple cities with prevalent crime rates. Despite the UK’s relatively low crime rate it never hurts to take precautions, with that in mind we thought we’d provide a few myth-busting facts and prevention tips concerning burglary.
Are there any burglar trademarks?
An important point to note is that by and large, burglars tend to be opportunists – they haven’t spent hours planning and will merely try their luck and pounce on any such opportunity that presents itself. The more common ones being open windows and open doors. A further common misconception is that burglars, like master criminals wait for the cover of nightfall to carry out their crimes. Surprisingly this is simply not the case, of course burglaries do take place at night on occasion however, quite a lot of burglaries tend to occur between 10am and 3pm as this is when it’s safest to assume that the property will be vacant.
As many of the South Manchester districts house a large number of students this day time robbery schedule is somewhat combatted by the unpredictable schedules of differing degree courses, meaning it’s more likely to have at least one person in the house during the day. However, the stereotype of the ‘naïve student away from home for the first time’ seems to be perpetuated and keeps the target fixed on student housing somewhat. Coupled with the fact that almost 70% of student accommodation is empty during the holiday periods, students are an attractive proposition and are seen as ‘easy targets’ by burglars.
What can I do if I’m away?
On a lighter note, there are some tactics you can employ to combat the issue. One of the best things to do in order to keep opportunistic thieves away is simply to create the illusion you’re in the property or making it exceedingly obvious that you are in- so pop your lights on a timer or keep a light on when you’re out.
Furthermore, part of being in a new place is getting to know those around you. Not only can it be enjoyable getting to know your neighbours, it’s a great way to keep an eye on things if you’re going out. So, befriend your neighbours and get them to check in. If you’re in a rented property, check with your Landlord or Agent to see if they do property inspections over the holidays so as to keep an eye on things while you’re away.
Are there any times of year to be extra careful?
Just as holidays are a time to be extra cautious, another time of year to watch out for, especially in a student area, is the summer. People can get pre-occupied with moving stuff in and catching up with their friends - leaving a door or window open is an easy oversight in that scenario. As tenants get used to their new houses, alarms are less likely to be set, doors not fully locked and start of term parties can lead to a lapse in concentration on the security front. If you’re not sure how to use your house alarm or how to assess whether the windows are fully locked or not, always feel free to ask or report it to your Landlord or Lettings Agent. So have fun but stay vigilant!
Any other tips?
Harrod’s, Hamley’s and Harvey Nichol’s all have it down to a tee – those window displays are made to entice you to come in and have a look around. This is not the effect you want to re-create in your house! Keep your valuables out of sight and don’t advertise what’s up for grabs. Unfortunately, as a race, humans seem to think of very similar places as ‘hidden’; the usual suspects being underwear drawers, under the mattress or in a wardrobe. Keeping items out of sight means that a burglar is less likely to know what’s on offer, but keeping your items locked up rather than simply hidden when you’re out is probably the best bet. Due to our innate predictability, these ‘safe’ places seem to be the first spots that burglars go looking. Perhaps the best advice we can offer is to always get contents insurance in the unfortunate event that something does go wrong!
So in conclusion..
Regrettably, even with the utmost caution and diligence, to make oneself immune from all of life’s evils is sadly an unobtainable goal. However, putting the aforementioned measures in place will certainly reduce your risk of falling victim and in the case of contents insurance, act as a safety net should things go awry. I would invite anyone to consult the Crime Stats for Manchester and review the hard facts and figures. Though Manchester is on occasion much maligned for its reputation regarding certain crimes, the stats indicate that the rumours do not hold entirely true. For example, many of the more popular rental areas in South Manchester come in at 22nd, 26th and 28th out of 92 districts so looking alright in the grand scheme of things.
To end on a more positive note; burglary levels have fallen dramatically over the last few years. They are 39% lower now than in 1997 - that's nearly 630,000 fewer burglaries and attempted burglaries. Of course, you cannot be complacent in the face of these figures, though there is certainly cause for optimism!
We hope we’ve covered some of the main issues. The most important thing to remember is that burglars are brazen. If the opportunity presents itself and a front door is left open burglars will have no qualms in entering your property. The simplest and arguably best advice is to make sure all doors are always locked whether you’re in or not and ensure you close windows when you’re not in a room and lock them when you’re out.
So, to conclude, a couple of top tips:
1) If you do get burgled, report it to the police and get a crime reference number
2) If you’re a Tenant, report it to your Landlord or Agent
3) Shut all windows and doors
4) Be especially vigilant during the holidays
5) Keep valuables out of sight
6) Get contents insurance