Following serial thief Terence Greenwood’s arrest for stealing £34,000 worth of jewellery, he wrote to his victims with tips on keeping out other unwanted intruders.
In his letters the burglar, from Denton, Greater Manchester, even advised householders to contact a particular firm of alarm fitters whose systems he’d been unable to crack.
Already behind bars and sentenced to a further two and a half years at Knutsford Crown Court on Tuesday, Greenwood, 33, was unable to expand on his crime-fighting tips.
So we asked criminal-turned-businessman Michael Fraser, to give us his top 25 tips on protecting your home.
1 PADLOCK your wheelie bin with a chain away from your house. They are often used by burglars as ‘ladders’ to get into windows or on to roofs.
2 NEVER leave keys under flowerpots, bricks or mats. They are the first places a burglar will look, especially if it appears such places have been disturbed.
3 GRAVEL around the house and flowerbeds deter burglars who want to POT LUCK: Keys that make no noise are easily found and avoid leaving footprints.
4 NEVER write your home address on luggage labels when you leave for holidays abroad. Instead write only your destination – your hotel as you leave, and your home when you return.
5 STORE important papers upstairs and out of sight. Burglars are increasingly looking for official papers, passports, driving licences and credit card statements that will allow them to steal your identity.
6 FENCING and prickly hedges are a major deterrent to burglars, who want to get in and out as quickly as possible. While planning laws generally restrict fences higher than six feet, you can make them harder to scale by adding trellis to the top.
7 IN hot weather, don’t leave your front or back doors open when you are out of sight of them, and don’t leave front windows open when you are in the back garden.
8 GARDEN sheds are often a handy source of equipment for burglars to use in a break-in. Attach a good padlock to a staple and hasp, fitted with bolts which go through the wood. Screws can be easily ripped out.
9 PHOTOGRAPH valuable items in your home and take a note of their serial numbers. Should you be burgled it helps with remembering items that have been taken and could help recover them.
10 TIMERS that turn lights and radios on at regular intervals are a good idea when you go away. Don’t just leave the bathroom light on, as many burglars feel confident enough to enter if they think the owner is taking a bath or shower.
11 TAKE keys out of the keys out of the lock to prevent them being ‘fished’ – where thieves poke a rod or net through the letterbox to snatch them. And never leave keys on the hall table – last year over £100 million worth of cars were stolen with keys fished off tables.
12 WHEN you go to bed, don’t leave downstairs windows open and don’t leave bedroom windows open to their full extent – try to keep them within the safety latch where possible.
13 IF you are going out and won’t be back until after dark, draw the curtains in downstairs rooms so your house doesn’t look empty.
14 VISIBLY secure all all ladders with a padlock and chain, even if they are inside a garden shed. 15 ALWAYS take handbags and briefcases upstairs and out of sight at night.
16 Ensure all windows are closed when you go out – victims are often amazed at the size of the window a burglar has managed to climb through. And make sure cat and dog flaps are closed.
17 DON’T let your front windows become shop windows – hang net curtains or blinds to stop people looking in.
18 DON’T allow letters to pile upon the mat beneath your letterbox. Many thieves peep through to see if mail is lying on the floor, showing that you are away.
19 FIT multi-lever locks on external doors. If that is not possible, at the very least ensure that each door has more than one lock and that they are well spaced apart to add strength and prevent it being kicked in.
20 WHEN going on holiday use a reputable taxi firm to take you to the airport – rogue cabbies sometimes tell burglars which households are away.
21 LOCK doors even when you are at home to prevent ‘walk-in’ burglars. It is amazing how often burglars simply walk through unlocked font doors while householders are in the garden.
22 DON’T leave notes in milk bottles or letterboxes – burglars will read them too.
23 REMEMBER to cancel regular deliveries when you go away. Parcels left on the doorstep and newspapers sticking out of the letterbox are the clearest possible advertisement to burglars.
24 JOIN Neighbourhood Watch and display the sticker prominently. It tells potential burglars that the area is on the lookout – the very last thing they want.
25 BURGLARS are 25 times more likely to move in on a house with an open gate than a closed one, so keep your gate closed and locked at all times.