Be Aware: What is Distraction Burglary?

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Brook Security
by Lucy Hall

Distraction burglary is a relatively new technique burglars are using to gain access to people’s homes. The technique plays on trust and the helpful nature of the people they target and, as such, is often used on vulnerable, elderly people who live alone.

Men, women or children may try this technique and often work as a small group to gain access to your home and steal your valuables.

Here’s how it works:

How Does Distraction Burglary Work?

Firstly, one person will knock on your front door and ask for a favour or claim to be a neighbour who is being flooded or pretend to be a Police Officer. The favour could be anything but often it is something like a request to write a note for someone living nearby, to use your phone, to turn off your water or ask you a few questions about a recent local crime. The purpose of this interaction is to gain entry to your home.

Once the first person is inside and busy distracting you, a second person will gain entry and go into other rooms to steal your valuables. Some distraction burglars do work alone, though, and will often ask to use the bathroom or may suggest they have just seen someone climbing out another of your windows. The aim here is to gain further entry into your home with the hope of being left unsupervised.

How Can You Prevent Distraction Burglary?

While it is only natural to want to help someone, the best thing to do is to refuse to help directly but send them in the direction of a local shop or another public facility. It is a sad fact that you may not be able to differentiate between a distraction burglar and someone genuinely in need; showing someone where to find help is the best compromise for your safety.

If you suspect that someone is posing as an official, you can ask to see some ID. All officials carry photo name badges with them and won’t hesitate to show you if you ask. You can leave someone on the doorstep while you decide whether to let them in or not, contact their company or ring the local Police to check the legitimacy of their visit. The first rule is that you should never let someone into your home if you don’t know who they are.

How Else Can You Make Your Home Safer?

There are lots of ways that you can make your house safer and put off distraction burglars. You can start by fitting a door chain and a wide angle door viewer if you have a solid door. This will allow you to see who is knocking before you open the door fully. You should always keep your doors locked and make sure that your garden gates are locked too.

Ladders should be stored safely out of sight and access. You may also install motion sensor security lights to give you more peace of mind at night. CCTV cameras act not only as a deterrent but also as an aid to catch the culprit should they gain entry.

If you are worried that you have been a victim of distraction burglary, call the police immediately and give them a description of the person you let into your property.

For more tips and advice for keeping safe and secure at home and whilst your away, see our library of articles and blogs aimed at helping you to protect your possessions and loved ones. Or to take action now, call us for a free security appraisal.