Burglar Proofing the Home And Garden

The police always say that no matter what you do, a burglar will break into your home if they really want to. The trick is to make them not want to! The following suggestions show how you can reduce your chances of experiencing a break in.
All entry points should be visible from the street and preferably also from neighbours’ windows. Remember that while dense plantings and hedges may look attractive and give you privacy they will also shield your house from passers-by and neighbours.

Sensor lighting can be very useful in providing extra security in areas that are heavily planted. Sensors tend to work on the principle that a beam of invisible light (usually infra-red) is sent out by the apparatus. If this beam of light is interrupted or something crosses its path, the alarm goes off. The alarm may be a noise alarm or just a light switch being turned on. Sensor lights are generally cheap and are excellent deterrents.

Plant for Security
Plants themselves may be strategically positioned to act as barriers. A thick hedge with tight intertwining branches makes an almost impenetrable barrier.

Thorns on plants are excellent for use to deter burglars. It is important that they are not too close to paths which you frequently walk along otherwise you will get tangled or snared by the thorns all the time. Position the plants back a little, in places where you think burglars are more likely to walk or hide as they case the property. Good places for such plants are along fences, near windows and around large bulky plants (where burglars can hide). Use low spiky plants near entrance ways. And don’t think that just because plants have thorns, that your garden will look Spartan – some thorny plants such as Euphorbia milii are stunning to look at.

Plants with thorns that can be used as anti-theft devices include:
  • Bromeliads –
    many have thorns eg Ananas spp., Cryptanthus spp., Dyckia spp., etc.
  • Palms –
    eg Phoenix roebelenii, Pigafetta filaris, Daemonorops mollis, Calamus australias, Aiphanes caryotifolia, etc.
  • Cycads –
    many cycads have sharp pointed leaflets eg. Cycas revoluta, Dioon edule, Encephalartos spp., etc.
  • Cactus –
    an obvious choice for spiky plants eg. Cerus spp., Lemaireocereus thurberi, Echinopsis multiplex, Echinocactus spp., Pereskia aculeata, etc.
  • Succulents -
    many of these have thorns and spines eg. Euphorbia milii, Aloe spp., Agave spp.
  • Climbers –
    Bougainvillea spp, Smilax spp., Quisqualis indica, etc.
  • Other Shrubs –
    Grevillea acanthifolia, Carissa grandiflora, Polyscias guilfoylei, Ilex spp., Rosa (cultivars), Berberis spp., Pyracantha spp., Lycium ferocissimum, Isopogon spp., Acacia spinescens, etc.
  • Other Sharp Foliage Plants -
    Kniphofia uvaria, Cymbopogon citratus, Protoasparagus spp., etc.
Fencing can deter burglars if it is difficult to climb or break through. It needs to be strong; and the top needs to either be high enough to deter it being climbed; or a surface that cannot be easily climbed. (e.g Picket fences with their sharpened and shaped points, can deter burglars from climbing them, provided they are not easy to jump).
For added protection, a normally bland fence can be enhanced by planting a spiny climber from the list above.

An important part of any fence is the latch and locking mechanism. Ensure you have one that self closes and preferably latches as it closes. Most simple latches are made with the ability to hook a lock through the mechanism.

Fences made with latch holes that permit a hand to enter from outside to open the latch inside the yard may be convenient to you, but it is also convenient to a burglar.

Alarms are a deterrent, and the biggest deterrent is when they are obvious. If a burglar thinks an alarm may go off, they will avoid the property and go for an easier target. Even if you have a good alarm system, you may still be broken into if the burglar does not become aware of the system until they are inside.

Alarms that have mountings under the front eaves of the house are good visual deterrents, especially the ones that can flash a blue light.

Having signs or stickers on windows stating the inside of the house is protected by alarms or that the house is patrolled by a security company works well in sending the burglar on his/her way.

A wide variety of alarms are available to suit any budget and house style but make sure you research and install one that will be effective for you!

One of the best alarms and cheapest, is a dog. But remember a dog is a pet first, a part of the family, so don't just leave it in the yard without regular exercise, the more it enjoys its home, the more it will want to protect its home and you.

Security Screens and Doors
ost security doors can be broken through by a determined burglar; but a more solid door with a triple locking mechanism will significantly slow a burglar, and increase the likelihood of them being seen.

Most people choose security screens which blend with the house and minimise the visual impact of the screen. Although this may make the house look more attractive and the view is better from inside, a coloured screen which stands out is a more effective deterrent.

Using Security Patrols
A sign from a well known security company will advertise the fact that it is patrolled; and that can be a significant deterrent. Many home owners are known just to put the sign on their windows without subscribing to a security firm. Although this may work in the short term, it offers no real protection.

Managing the Property (when at home and when you’re away)
Long grass, papers lying on the lawn, and junk mail spilling out of the letterbox are sure signs that your house is empty. If you plan to be away for more than a couple of days, ask a neighbour to clear your junk mail and either get your mail redirected or held at the post office until your return. Arrange to have the grass mowed, pot plants watered and, for longer periods, the garden beds weeded and watered.
Automatic timers for garden lighting are also a great idea to keep burglars at bay as well as leaving a light on inside the house (but not so that burglars can easily see in). Ask a friend or neighbour to move blinds up and down, and maybe even park their car in the driveway occasionally.

Make sure you lock up wheelie bins because they can be used by burglars to climb fences or onto roofs. Also tidy up tools and toys lying around the yard and don’t leave anything out that can be used to break windows.

Inside the Burglars Mind: What Properties do Burglars Target?
Burglars will look for certain things when finding a suitable property to break in to.
These include:
  • Lots of places to hide (eg. bushes or fences)
  • No obvious security measures (eg. alarm system, security doors, warning signs)
  • No dog
  • On a corner of two streets
  • A long driveway leading to the house
  • The house is isolated from other houses
  • A neighbourhood where most of the residents are out at work or school during the day
  • Obvious signs of affluence
There is a misconception that if you life on a busy street you will not be burgled. In fact, because the street is busy, most people will not even look twice at someone loading items into a car – motorists driving past will only glance over and think "Oh, the people are moving".

Profile of the Modern Burglar
There are all types of thieves. Burglaries may be conducted by organised crime; but more often than not they are undertaken by unemployed people or drug addicts, looking for easy and quick cash.


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