This article was originally published in The XPat Journal Winter 2017 Issue

A stranger who’s been through your stuff, who’s taken some of it with him and who has left a path of destruction in his wake. This can have quite an impact on your life. Be aware of the fact that most burglaries are committed in a moment of opportunity – upon discovery of a ‘weak spot’ in your home. So make sure your house is secure; the harder you make it for burglars to get in, the sooner they’ll give up.

The Right Locks

Often, all you have to do is make a few simple modifications to your windows and doors. Any locks and hinges that have the Police Seal of Approval ‘Veilig Wonen’ will ensure that the thief will have to make a considerable effort to get in. If it takes him too long, he’ll give up. This includes security fittings, latches, deadbolts and cylinder guards – so that the lock cylinder cannot be removed or damaged. Be sure you have locks on your window (latches) too.

Discourage Burglars

As mentioned earlier, burglaries are often opportunity-based. If there is clearly no one home, or if the windows or doors are open or poorly secured – then the chances are greater that someone will try their luck. To avoid this, only open those windows that you can keep an eye on, or install metal bars or rods that limit how far the window can be opened – even on higher floors. Also during the day.

Also be sure to secure those parts of the house where burglars could get to work undetected by neighbors or passersby, for instance by using lighting that turns on once it’s dark.

Lighting

Make sure you have lights shining on all doors that can be accessed or seen from the road. A lamp that turns on automatically when it gets dark, is a good idea. Lamps with motion sensors also scare away potential burglars. In order to make sure that the sensor is not de-activated, place the light at a height of at least three meters. And make sure it lights up the face of any visitors, so that you can see whether it’s safe to open the door.

Timers

You can use timers to create the impression that you are home. Either you can program them to go on and off at a fixed time, or you can buy a more luxury model that can be programmed per day. You can also buy devices that connect to your Wi-Fi and that you can use to turn on and off your lights from wherever you are – also abroad. Be sure to light up several rooms, to create the illusion of activity. Timers can also be used to turn on radios.

Combine Measures

Opportunity burglars often use pretty simply tools, such as screwdrivers and crowbars. That is why they hate solid locks – such as those offered by SKB. These locks are awarded stars; the more stars, the more secure they are.

Even better is to install a variety of measures. For example, the combination of a lock and anti-lift pins when the hinges are on the outside. And adapt your security measures to your type of window: sliding or pivoting.

Police Seal of Approval

On www.politie.nl and www.hoeveiligismijnwijk.nl you will find a variety of measures (and combinations thereof) that you can take to reduce the chances of a burglary by up to 90%. They also list popular burglary methods and how you can protect yourself against them.

Vacation

During the holidays, there is an increase in burglaries. Here are a few tips as to what you can do to protect your home.

  • Do not report on social media, twitter or through blogs that you are going away.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors. Remove the keys and put them away.
  • Use dusk-to-dawn lights for access doors.
  • Install timers, in more than one room (a dark house is an invitation).
  • Don’t leave the curtains closed. Leave plants in the window sill.
  • Ask you neighbors to collect your mail and water the plants.
  • Don’t leave a ladder or container in the backyard that can give anyone a leg-up.
  • Place valuables in a safe or give them to someone else to keep for you.
  • Don’t display all your attractive possessions in the living room.
  • Leave a note behind with the telephone number of a contact person for the police, in case of emergency.
  • Prune bushes in the front yard so that your front door and windows remain visible.
  • Always report any burglary.

Don’t drive around with a roof box on your car for days. Burglars who are scouting the area for vulnerable houses will make note of this

An Unusual Situation? Call 112

Also if you are home, keep an eye out on the neighborhood. Do you see someone suspicious? Approach them or call 112. Burglars dislike ‘nosy’ neighbors.

Christmas and New Year’s

We all like to celebrate the seasonal holidays in the company of good friends or family. If you are going away for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your house and give them an extra key. Another prime moment for a quick snatch of your property is when you are lighting fireworks and leave the front door open. Don’t forget the back door! You can find more advice on: www.maakhetzeniettemakkelijk.nl (which translates into: don’t make it too easy).

A Few Additional Tips

Don’t leave the keys on the inside of doors or windows. A small hole is easily drilled, a window pane is easily shattered. Not to mention the convenience of a well-placed mail slot for burglars with a metal wire.

  • Put your possessions out of sight, particularly televisions and computers. Close the curtains at night.
  • Put away (car) keys, cell phones and wallets.
  • Don’t leave the packaging of valuable new purchases on the curb.
  • Don’t attach a tab to your keys with your address on it.
  •  Verify the identity of anyone at your door. And don’t just buzz anyone in, also not if they claim they are there for your neighbors.
  • Ask for the ID of anyone who wants to come in. Countless burglars have managed to talk their way in, in broad daylight, with a good excuse.
  • Never give your bank card’s pin to anyone, even if they say they are with the police or the bank. Your bank card may have been copied or stolen – and your account could be empty in no time.
  • Also garden sheds and rabbit hutches can be used as a leg-up by thieves.
  • Take photographs of your valuables and write your postal code and house number on these. Also mark the brand, series and type number. This will help the police identify your possessions and return them to you.
  • If you have surveillance cameras, be sure to report this to the police if someone has broken into your, or one of your neighbors’, house. This could help find the perpetrators.

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