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Distraction Burglary: How to Spot and Prevent It

Distraction Burglary: How to Spot and Prevent It

Burglary victims are often faced with a dilemma: should they simply lock up and go, or else stay to confront the intruder?

There is a third option that many burglaries fall into - distraction burglary. Much more common than a burglar smashing their way through a door or a window, some choose to distract the occupant of the house in order to gain entry.

What is distraction burglary?

Distraction burglaries are committed by individuals who do not wish to resort to typical "smash and grab" tactics, but instead choose another method of gaining access. The crime usually involves the use of social engineering - or simply being very clever - to trick an occupant into leaving the safety of their home.

How does it work?

The criminal will usually phone an occupant and pose as a representative from, say, a water company or social services. They may claim that the occupant's tap is leaking and needs to be fixed immediately, for example, and that someone will be around shortly to help them out (on other occasions, someone may be asked to "check the water meter").

Alternatively, a phone call might come through that apparently comes from a neighbour. They claim to have spotted an intruder and will ask for you (the occupant) to check it out - they'll even offer to stay on the line with you until you get back.

Of course, the burglar is always on hand to let himself in as soon as you leave your property. It's a particularly shoddy form of burglary - and one that will cost the victim dearly.

How can you prevent a distraction burglary?

If someone visits your house claiming to be from a company or organization that has a reason to call, ask for some sort of identification and be very cautious. If you're still not sure, tell them that you will phone the company or organization to check. Then do just that by dialing the number yourself - don't let the caller put their own spin on what is going on.

If a neighbour claims they have seen an intruder in your property, do not leave them alone at the door or go to investigate yourself. Instead, if you're comfortable doing so, take a relative or friend with you and instruct them to stand well away from the windows. Keep your phone on you at all times to call the police as soon as anything looks suspicious. If nobody is available, call the police anyway - they will instruct you on how to resolve things.

If your house is ever broken in to by a distraction burglary, do not confront the intruder yourself. Instead, immediately contact the police and make sure that you stay in a safe place with all doors closed until help arrives. You may have heard of one or two stories where a brave homeowner has confronted an intruder and escaped unharmed, but try not to bank on that ever happening!

How does it feel?

To the person falling victim to a distraction burglary, it's a very unnerving experience. Not only is your home broken into before your eyes, but you're also made to think that you might be under threat of harm. At best, you'll feel very shaken up - after all, some criminals will even go so far as to claim that they have a gun or some other kind of weapon with them!

As long as you stay on your toes and don't easily fall for any tricks perpetrated by burglars, distraction burglary can be avoided - do make sure you follow all of the instructions in this article next time you're at home!

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