British burglars won't steal from their own neighbourhoods but take an opportunistic approach when it comes to breaking into properties, a report has found.
Confused.com has revealed the burglar's 'code of conduct' in its latest research. One burglar said: "No, you never would do it in your own neighbourhood."
Another added: "Within the ½ mile radius of our home we wouldn't burgle, we wouldn't do anything like that."
The research confirmed that as well as hitting more upmarket areas, burglars will often choose a property that gives them an easy chance to enter.
An unlocked window or door, an open garage, or a property with no security measures such an up-to-date alarm system, will catch the eye of any opportunistic burglar.
According to the burglars Confused.com questioned, the ideal home to target would be easily accessible, such as a corner house or one situated near an alley or field. It would have a small driveway or no high gates and have a window open.
A burglar told the researchers: "If there was a window open then that was a bonus. You'd walk past and think, oh god they're just asking for it!"
Posh, well-looked-after houses (think bay trees and shutters) with a nice car outside and located on a quiet road or backstreet and not too close to the neighbours is also high on the hitlist. As are houses with no security, dogs, sign of anyone at home, or quality alarm system.
One burglar said: "If they've got an old battered alarm system it shows that they don't use it, so you're all good to go."
Bottom of the list were flats due to the close proximity of people. One burglar explained: "There are too many people living close together in flats. And you can't really gauge if anyone has seen or heard you."
While 61% of homeowners believe that having an alarm system will deter a would-be burglar, the study found that an old and battered system is unlikely to stop a thief breaking in.
A third of the burglars surveyed said having Neighbourhood Watch stickers displayed wasn't seen as a real deterrent either. One of them said: "I think most of the time it's just a sticker that someone puts on their door. I don't think most people really have time to neighbourhood watch. At the time that sticker didn't mean anything to me at all."
More effective deterrents, however, are signs saying 'burglars operating in this area'. One said: "If there's a sign that says 'burglars operating in this area', that would put me off as people and police would be on the lookout for burglars."
A quarter of Brits have been burgled, and more than one in six victims (15%) has experienced a robbery three times or more. A burglar told Confused.com said: "I recall going back to the same house a few times, the person just wasn't learning."
Another 25% of those who have been burgled didn't have home insurance to help them reclaim their lost items either.
Gareth Lane, head of home insurance at Confused.com, said: "Most burglaries are opportunistic, so homeowners can protect themselves against this type of crime by keeping 'desirable' items, like car keys, out of sight from the front windows.
"Carrying out simple security measures, such as keeping doors and windows locked and having a well maintained alarm system, can help ensure householders and their possessions are kept safe."
"It is also important to make sure you have adequate home insurance in place, so that your valuables are protected should the worst happen."
According to Confused.com's research, the key deterrents to a burglar are:
- A flat
- When a property has lights on or music playing, which indicates the property is occupied
- Having a dog
- Having a heavy amount of security including CCTV; high-quality and new alarm systems; high gates and a long driveway.