Sometimes my life reads like a Hollywood movie. Last week my home was almost robbed. Something I thought only happened to other people; indeed, some events, I expect (and prefer) to see only on film.
Roused by a strange sound my husband walked into the kitchen to find a South London chav trying to break the window open with a crowbar. Minutes later my house was occupied by the police, sniffer dogs and forensics. We were lucky though, we learnt a cheap lesson, two other homes in the neighborhood were not so lucky.
People may blame such behaviour on the recession, a lack of jobs, desperation, life but whatever the reason is we responsible citizens need to protect ourselves against such selfish acts. Thieves have little regard for the hard graft that underlies a purchase.
I was a little blasé about the almost-robbery until our neighbor’s CCTV showed that the thieves specifically targeted us. A lady drove by and knocked on the door to check if anyone was home – my husband didn’t answer so she drove off and returned three minutes later to drop off a lad that never reappeared on the CCTV screen. When my hubby caught him, he leapt over the back fence. If this chav had found our car keys the police reckon he would have loaded anything that he could sell into our own car and driven off with it!
What can you do to protect you and your family:
1. Lock interior doors when you leave the house. This makes it harder for thieves. Once they get into one room a locked door means they can’t get into another room. With the new obstacle the thief may get turned off and leave because the question in their mind will be “if they bothered to lock this door, what other obstacles will I have to get through?”
2. Get a personal alarm. If a thief ever manages to get close to you an alarm may scare them off because it attracts attention.
3. Get a safe and lock all your valuables in there: laptops, iPads, cameras, car keys. Make sure it can be bolted to the floor or a wall so that it can’t simply be carried off. They are not as expensive as one might think, £150 - 200 will get you a decent one.
4. Get a domestic alarm system with PIR movement detectors. Think: Mission Impossible. If the thief walks past a ‘sensored’ area or breaks a door or a window the alarm is triggered. Look for systems that can be enacted remotely with a fob. Again, about £200 is enough for a quality alarm system.
5. Lock your bedroom door when you go to bed.
I used to love sleeping with my bedroom door AND window open! I gave up on having the window ajar because my husband hates that, he gets cold easily. After the almost-robbery we started locking the bedroom door too but that only lasted until we got the alarm system. If you don't have one, lock your bedroom door.
My colleague knows a man who’s house was broken into, the intruder went all the way to his room, gave him a light tap on the shoulder and said, “We know you have two kids in the next room, give us your valuables and we’ll be on our way!” There’s only one reasonable response to that situation, you shouldn’t risk your children’s lives – give what you’ve got!
6. Get CCTV. Quite pricey but if you have expensive kit in your house that you need to protect, it could be worth it. A quality CCTV system will set you back £500 at least, a grand easy.
7. You can insure some goods against theft but some things are irreplaceable like family pictures that haven't been backed up elsewhere.
I wish we could all live in a world where front doors are left open without concern. I grew up in such a world but things have changed radically since. Some people have zero scruples, they blame the world for their problems: what they can’t get for themselves, they will take any way. You’ve been warned.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.