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Burglary

When people talk about burglary they're usually referring to the theft of property from a home as a result of breaking and entering. However, breaking and entering doesn't always take place, as burglars can enter the home by deception, by pretending to be someone else or by using copied or stolen keys. Some burglars act alone, while others act in organised gangs; burglaries can take place both by chance (lost keys, door left open, etc.) or as part of a carefully prepared operation.

Because there are so many different circumstances, it's difficult to establish absolute rules on how to secure your home against burglary.

Burglaries: a real risk

Figures published by the French Ministry of the Interior and the country's national crime and criminal justice response monitoring centre make for disturbing reading: more than 250,000 burglaries are recorded every year in France, amounting to 650 per day on average. This is worrying given that it amounts to one burglary every 90 seconds and that the data used only covers established thefts that the victims reported to the national police force. Including attempted breaking and entering and abandoned burglaries, the facts are even more alarming.

Burglary figures compiled by law enforcement nevertheless provide us with information on how burglars operate. This information enables the police to put preventive measures in place and the general public to improve security in their home.
Statistics show that while 23% of burglars enter the home through a window and 11% by scaling an outside wall, 54% enter through the front door. Figures also show which items are most likely to be stolen: jewellery comes in first place (in 54% of reported cases), followed by computer equipment, hi-fis, cameras and video equipment. Thefts of computers, tablets and smartphones are on the rise every year, even outstripping thefts of cash and other payment methods. DIY and gardening tools are also enticing for burglars, who see them as an easy target often kept in less-protected places (garage, garden shed). Discover all our products

How to protect yourself against burglaries

Fortunately, you can take action to protect the items in your home. The police and your insurance provider usually give good advice on anti-theft security. These recommendations are essential for protecting yourself from theft by making things difficult for a burglar, whether you're home or away, as well as to ensure you're covered by your insurance policy in the event of a break-in or incident.
  • Look out for the signs
The police regularly circulate a list of the signs and codes that burglars use when targeting a home. These indicate whether there are valuable goods, whether a person lives alone or if there is a dog. Learn to recognise them and contact the authorities if you see someone making these signs outside your home. You can also eliminate indicators in your home to undermine attempts to identify it as a target.
  • Be careful on social media
Burglars now use social media to gather information. Avoided letting people know on a public account that you're going away on holiday, only share your holiday photos with close friends and don't give away anything that might let someone else know you're away from home. Similarly, avoid showing off an expensive purchase (e.g. a high-end stereo) that might attract a burglar's attention.
  • Secure entry points
As mentioned before, doors and windows are the preferred entry points when burgling a home. Make sure everything is sturdy and install double- or triple-glazed windows, a reinforced door and a reinforced multi-point locking system, which will dissuade opportunists. Get in the habit of locking entry points to your home, not only when you're away but also at night and even during the day. It's easy to enter your home when you're busy, upstairs or in the garden. Get in the habit of closing the garage properly, any outbuildings, don't leave your keys in glass doors and avoid leaving the blinds half-closed. If you lose your keys, change the locks as quickly as possible and never leave spare keys somewhere around your home. Lastly, never leave a ladder or stepladder out in your garden, as they might help burglars enter your home.
  • Pretend you're home while you're on holiday
If you're away (on holiday, on business, etc.), try to give the impression that someone is at home regularly. Ask a friend or neighbour to open your blinds, switch on the lights and pick up the mail. Don't speak in a public place about the fact you'll be away and never leave a message on your answerphone saying when you won't be at home. If you can, program certain devices (a lamp, TV) to switch on regularly and give the impression that someone is at home.
  • Notify the police
To avoid a burglary, consider notifying the local police station if you're going on holiday. The police may be able to put the 'Tranquillité Vacances' scheme in place and have officers check on your home while you're away. Some French towns also have a neighbourhood watch scheme to cut down on burglaries; find out if you can join one.
  • Don't tempt thieves
Figures show that some burglaries are opportunistic rather than premeditated. To avoid tempting a passing burglar, don't leave valuables on display or near entry points. A handbag or wallet that's too near a door or window makes an ideal victim!
  • Limit the damage
Unfortunately, all the security systems and precautions in the world aren't enough to reduce the risk of burglary to zero. To limit the risk, avoid keeping too much cash at home, invest in a safe or deposit your valuables at a bank. Remember that losses aren't just financial and that even if you're insured you won't get back items of sentimental value.
  • Beware of intruders
A classic burglary technique is to gain entry to a home by pretending to be a technician or someone representing an organisation. Always ask for the person's business card, even if they're wearing an official uniform (and even if they look like the police). If in doubt, refuse to open the door.

Anti-theft systems

Various security systems are available to protect your home from burglary.

An alarm system that has a motion or opening sensor can surprise a burglar and cause them to flee. If you're not at home, an alarm will also alert your neighbours, who can call the police.

A surveillance camera is also useful for ensuring your valuables are secure. When placed outside, it can discourage a burglar from even entering your home. The camera will also take photos or videos, which can be used to identify a burglar or provide evidence to your insurance company. The mere mention of a video surveillance system on a sign or sticker outside your home is also enough to dissuade intruders.

If your video surveillance system is connected to a security centre, an agent may even visit your home if the alarm is triggered, which is especially useful if you're not in when a burglary is taking place. A smart security camera can also send an alert to your phone in case of an intrusion, whether during the day or at night. This can allow you to cause the burglar to flee or to immediately alert the local police.

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