Download a pdf version of this advice here.
Whether out and about or at home, bear in mind: 1) Violent crime is rare and your chance of being a victim of it is very low, 2) Young men are more likely to be victims of violent crime than women or the elderly.
Read the full module below or use the links on the left to navigate between topics.
Bogus Callers and Rogue Traders
‘Not sure? Don't open the door!’ Most callers are genuine, but watch out for alleged utility workers, council workers, police or repair workers who haven’t made an appointment. If you’re alone and unsure, ask them to come back later when someone else will be there.
See Gov.uk for more information on bogus callers and read about the Home Office campaign against rogue traders: Your Doorstep, Your Decision.
Your local Neighbourhood or Home Watch can help establish a No Cold Calling zone in your area.
Example 1: Larchwood Neighbourhood Watch, Stafford
A No Cold Calling Zone has increased reports to police and reduced cold calls. A scheme is planned in which residents will look after neighbours’ properties while they’re away.
Example 2: Peel Estate, Withenshawe
Neighbourhood Watch ran an awareness campaign and provided vulnerable residents with alarms against cowboy traders and criminals pretending to be door-to-door salespeople.
Most burglaries are opportunistic, not planned, so they’re easy to prevent:
Deadlock doors and close and secure lockable windows if you go out or upstairs. Unlocked UPVC units can be sprung. Keep keys away from doors and windows in a place where they are not visible to anyone looking in, and don’t hide them outside.
Get a strong door with insurance company-approved locks.
Fit an entry viewer and/or a good door chain or door bar. A letterbox cage will prevent lock release or theft via the letterbox. Change locks in new houses so only you have keys. Don't give keys to anyone you do not know well.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) licenses its approved locksmiths through a process of vetting and checking. Visit the MLA website to search for an MLA-approved and registered locksmith.
Visible window locks may deter thieves. Secure easily accessible windows. Draw the curtains in the evening.
Lighting with timers, movement or night sensitive switches on external doors, gardens etc. will deter thieves. Neighbours get used to movement sensors being set off by cats etc. so don’t rely on them alone.
Keep valuables hidden out of sight and not viewable from windows. Keep jewellery and credit cards secure and house deeds and other important legal documents in banks. Burglars look in ‘safe’ spots such as under mattresses and in shoeboxes and tins. Never keep large amounts of cash at home. Never leave packaging from new valuables such as computers and televisions visible with your general rubbish. Secure bikes by locking them to an immovable object inside a locked shed or garage. If possible, use a property marking service - your local Neighbourhood Policing Team should be able to tell you where you can get property marking from.
Visible alarms can deter burglars. Insurance companies, your local Neighbourhood/Home Watch or Crime Prevention Officers can recommend approved local alarm companies who can offer you quotations. Always seek at least three like-for-like quotations before making any decisions, and think carefully before buying any goods or services from cold callers at your door or over the telephone.
These can be routes into homes. Secure yours with lockable gates and good quality fences, with 12 inch/300mm trellising and/or thorny plants. Lock away tools and ladders so thieves can’t use them to access your home. Lock outbuildings. Don’t store valuables in sheds unless well secured, e.g. with anchor bolts for large items, and use electronic shed alarms or padlock alarms to deter thieves.
Click here to download a presentation about garden crime.
Don't give clues to burglars!
This might sound obvious, but it's actually very easy to accidentally give away clues about your location on social media. It might be via 'checking in' somewhere or even something as simple as leaving your phone's GPS service turned on or uploading a photo to the internet. For more information see this useful infographic. You can also get more information about online safety in our Mobile, Internet & Identity Safety section.
While you’re away
Don’t make it obvious that your home is empty. Use timer switches for lights and radios (tuned to talk stations). Ask a neighbour to keep a car parked in the driveway. Ask someone to take in mail, milk, dustbins etc. If you have a trusted neighbour, friend or relative with a key, ask them to close the curtains at night and open them in the morning.
Example 1: Londonderry Road Neighbourhood Watch, Stockton-on-Tees
The group operates a service where members visit each others’ properties when they’re away to make them look occupied.
Example 2: Beeches Neighbourhood Watch, Uppingham, Rutland
Residents responded to a slight burglary increase by looking after people’s properties when they were away.
Watch out! Keep watch for unusual callers, call the police if you see anyone suspicious and keep pens and paper ready to jot down number plates. If you return to your house and think you might have been broken into, don't go into the house - the burglar might still be inside. Call the police.
The Master Locksmiths Association has handy example diagrams of a secure house and an unsecure house. (Accompanying text for the diagrams can be downloaded here.)
Car security at home
Most vehicle crime is preventable. Don’t leave valuables on show - not even a coat or an empty carrier bag. Park somewhere open and lock up. Use your garage if you have one or a car park, especially one with a ‘Park Mark’, showing it meets recognised security levels. Keep car keys away from your front door and out of sight in the home.
Remember to close the windows and the sunroof when you leave your car. Try not to store things in the boot, particularly overnight; take them with you if possible. Store car ownership information in your home, not your car. When you leave the car, especially overnight, take removable stereos, radios and satnav equipment with you.
Number plates are often stolen for criminal use. Use Secure Plates or plates secured with anti-theft screws available from car accessory stores or your local police.
Check with your local force for upcoming car crime prevention events.