What do burglars look for?

A burglary is committed every 108 seconds, making it one of the most common crimes in the UK. Protect your home by knowing what burglars look for and how you can avoid being targeted.

Here are some of the common things burglars look for when choosing a home to break into.

Unlocked entrances

Burglars look for the easiest targets – and the easiest of all houses to break into are ones that have unlocked doors, windows or gates. 30% of UK burglars come through an unlocked door or window and have to put very little effort into the “breaking in” part of the burglary!

Many intruders will check for unlocked gates since they’ll have a higher chance of going unnoticed in the back garden than they will at the front door.

Remember to lock your doors and windows with high quality locks and lock your garden gates with padlocks or deadbolts.

Convenient spare key

Any burglar who spends time researching your home will likely notice if you’ve chosen to stash a spare key in a convenient location e.g. in a fake rock, under the door mat or in a plant pot. While this may be more convenient for you in an emergency, this also makes it easier for intruders to break in without a trace.

Give your spare key to someone you trust or invest in a key safe.

Weak entrance points

The second easiest way for burglars to gain access to your home is through weak entrance points such as a low quality lock or a gap in your fence.

Make sure you have invested in high-quality locks (such as anti-snap locks) that will make it harder for, and therefore less appealing to, burglars.

You should also take care to secure your garden by installing good quality locks on your gates, having high and spiky fences or hedges and generally making it harder for intruders to access it.

Tools & Aids

Most burglars don’t carry bulky equipment around with them so they will actively look for things outside your house that they can use to assist their break in. E.g. bins and ladders can be used to climb to higher floors with unlocked windows while tools and gardening equipment can help them break a lock or glass window pane.

Lock your tools away and anchor any furniture or bins to the ground to prevent burglars from being able to see and/or use these items to break into your home. Put high-quality locks and padlocks on your shed, garage and garden gates.

Hiding places

Burglars love anywhere around your property that they can hide to conceal themselves from a) you while they’re casing your house and b) others during the break in itself.

Hidden alcoves, shadowy areas or places concealed by shrubbery are all popular places for intruders to hide. Identify these areas and (if you can’t make them more exposed) install security lights that will shine on these areas when they detect movement. This can help to deter and catch burglars.


Burglars want to make the best use of their time so they will break into houses where they believe there is something worth stealing.

Make sure that your valuables aren’t visible from outside e.g. position your expensive TV away from the window and don’t leave your jewellery on the kitchen window-sill when you’re washing up.

If you have lots of valuable items in your home it is worth investing in more advanced security measures including CCTV and video doorbells. While for many burglars this tells them you have something worth stealing, the higher chance of being caught on camera often acts as a deterrent. It is believed that 67% of domestic burglaries could be prevented by CCTV.

Empty houses

If a home is empty for an extended period of time, burglars can spend more time hunting for valuables and have a lower chance of being caught by someone finding them.

Burglars often look for signs that the owners are on holiday e.g. a post on social media, mail left by the door, empty driveways, and no lights being turned on for a long time. Do you best to not make it clear that you’re away:

  • Don’t post about your holiday on social media – instead share with a few close friends and family
  • Ask a neighbour to check for mail every day
  • Get a house sitter to stay while you’re away
  • Set a timer on your lights to give the impression that you’re home

Most burglaries happen during the day between noon and 4pm. Why? Because this is when most people are out of the house at work. Once a burglar knows your work patterns, they can choose to break in when you are at work – giving them as much time as they need.

Deterring intruders with CCTV or security alarms are one of the best ways to protect your home while you’re at work.

Vulnerable houses

A house doesn’t have to be completely empty to be vulnerable. Houses that are being moved into/out of or those in the care of vulnerable people (e.g. elderly, disabled or single parents) can be tempting targets for burglars.

To protect these homes, do your best to follow the guidance in this article and deter intruders with any means available such as CCTV.

Burglaries can have a significant financial, emotional and mental impact on your family. Make sure your home security is properly set up to protect you from break ins. Get in touch with our experienced team for advice on 0115 9780141 or pop into our shop.