Of all the crimes against property committed each day in Western Australia, few shake the victim’s confidence as much as having their home robbed.
WA home burglary rates haven’t changed much in recent years, with an average of one in 22 homes actually burgled and one in 28 experiencing an attempted burglary.
But studies repeatedly find that once their house has been broken into, residents can feel shocked, angry, worried and fearful of being robbed again.
So what can you do to prevent your home becoming one of the 75 burgled on an average day in WA?
Well, a fascinating study conducted by researchers Natalie Gately, Jennifer Fleming, Nathalie McGinty and Anthony Scott might provide some answers as they asked burglars themselves what they were looking for when selecting a target.
The researchers worked with detainees taking part in the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia project and asked whether they had committed a burglary in the previous 12 months, even if that wasn’t the crime for which they had been arrested.
They then quizzed the 69 detainees to determine what made a property a target, what might deter the burglar and the tricks that homeowners hoped would work, but didn’t.
The top reason given by burglars for targeting a house is lack of security – if they think it will be accessible they will take advantage. And since a remarkable two out of every three reported entering the property through an open door or window, lack of security is extremely common.
Three out of every four burglars said it took them 5 minutes or less to enter a property, and once inside, 69% are out again within 15 minutes.
So what might deter a potential burglar?
A working alarm was found to be an effective deterrent for nearly half the burglars (49%), with sensor lights deterring 23%, lights on inside putting off 19% and grills on doors and windows deterring 19%.
But the most effective strategy, in this study at least, seems to be a dog. Even if the dog is small but loud rather than big and threatening, 61% said they would not touch a house with a dog on the premises.
Remember that if you see suspicious activity or someone who might be eyeing up a neighbour’s property, you can report it to Crime Stoppers anonymously online or by telephoning 1800 333 000.