At this time of year, the last thing you want is to experience a break-in. Who better to provide defence advice than convicted burglars.
Worryingly not enough of us know what can be done to safeguard our homes, with over one in eight Brits not knowing the laws in place to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential intruders.
Although the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is very specific with their guidance – less than half of UK residents are familiar with the legal definition of ‘reasonable force’, according to new research by Churchill Home Insurance.
The CPS is clear that householders should contact the police whenever possible – however, it is also advised how ‘anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime’.
It seems we could all benefit from a deeper insight. And who better to offer information than convicted burglars themselves?
This eye opening research found 86 per cent of burglars will actively avoid a confrontation with a homeowner. In fact, 75 per cent will flee from a break-in attempt if they sense a person either in the house or returning home.
It appears burglars will put plenty of thought into avoiding detection. Indeed, over three quarters of home intruders will cover their hands with socks or gloves so as not to leave fingerprints.
Cheap trainers are apparently a handy piece of kit among burglars with two fifths chucking their shoes away following a break-in. One in five cover their hair with a hat to conceal their identity.
However, there is decidedly less concern about leaving traces of DNA, with only 14 per cent of burglars confessing to exercising care in not leaving DNA evidence at the scene – eg used cigarettes or sweat.
There is also a mixed understanding among burglars about the rights of householders to protect themselves and their families with current legislation being actioned back in 2013.
Half of burglars understood the rights of householders to protect their home and family. However two thirds admitted the 2013 changes hadn’t made much difference to how they conducted their crimes because they had always been careful to avoid confrontation.
One fifth of burglars confessed the changes had forced them to make extra checks to make sure the residents were not at home.
Head of Churchill Home Insurance, Martin Scott, explained:
Most burglars target properties they believe to be unoccupied, meaning encounters are rare.
If someone thinks there is a burglar in their home or trying to break in, their first course of action should always be to contact the police if it is safe to do so and to avoid confrontation.
If householders are forced into a confrontation with an intruder, they are legally permitted to protect themselves as a last resort.
However, 5 per cent of Brits think they can legally set booby traps within their property with the intention of injuring potential intruders.
Although this premise is played for laughs in films such as Home Alone, in reality such behaviour would land a householder in grave legal trouble.
Indeed, they may even be prosecuted for exacting excessive and gratuitous force.
It is therefore vitally important the level of force used by the householder is reasonable in accordance with the circumstances.
Martin Scott offered the following advice:
Burglars will usually target properties which look unoccupied and provide an easy entry and exit point, so that they can get away undetected.
The chances of meeting a burglar are very slim but we urge householders to follow some simple steps to make burglars avoid their home.
Making the property look occupied, having locks on doors and windows, remembering to lock all access points including garages and sheds and removing valuables from sight are all basic measures to help prevent burglary.
Churchill Home Insurance offers a 24/7 burglary response service whereby a response team is on hand to make sure a burgled property is safe.
An engineer will replace broken locks and damaged windows and doors will be temporarily secured – offering some peace of mind.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.