How burglars operate
Breaking and entering
The burglar (working alone or with others) enters the premises by forcing the front door or breaking a window. More fragile doors (such as hollow or panelled doors) can often be opened by simply kicking them or pushing them hard.
Some doors have locks that can be opened with a piece of plastic, such as a credit card or similar object, leaving no trace of the break-in.
Tools used by burglars include crowbars, wrenches and screwdrivers. The force exerted detaches part of the metal lock fittings (such as the strike plate) or smashes the woodwork. Reinforced doors and doors with multipoint locks are designed to be more resistant to this type of attack. Some criminals remove the lock cylinder using tools such as pliers (combination or universal), tube wrenches or spanners. In this way they can access the lock mechanism, enabling them to unlock the door.
Burglary by climbing
A burglar, alone or with others, will climb fences, walls or roofs to gain access to a window in a house that has been singled out for burglary. In general, burglars work alone, sometimes taking great risks to attain their goal. Some are as supple, agile and slim as a tightrope walker.
So-called cat burglars prefer buildings with roof terraces, which give them easier access to apartments on the top floors. If there are balconies, they can easily lower themselves to the floors below.
Don't hesitate to report any suspicious activity in your building to the Police Service (call 17 or the switchboard on 93-15-30-15). (For example strange telephone calls, such as a caller repeatedly hanging up when you answer the telephone or unusual use of the interphone or doorbell) or noise from apartments that are supposedly unoccupied.
Be aware that, to avoid prosecution, some communities do not hesitate to train and use adolescents under 16 to commit burglaries.
Practical advice for preventing burglaries
Be discrete if you are going away
In most cases, burglars will check to make sure that the building is not occupied. Uncollected post is one of the signs. Often, they will ring your doorbell or call your interphone to make sure you are not at home. Similarly, information obtained from social network sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be a valuable source of information for burglars.
Tell your neighbours and the concierge if you are going away. They can be on the alert for suspicious noises and movements from your apartment. Some burglars will telephone you frequently to see if you are away. Consider having your calls forwarded.
Protecting entry points
To protect the entry points to your dwelling, you should:
- Make absolutely sure that you lock your front door, even if you are only away for a short time
- Ensure that your door has a reliable locking system, a spy hole and a chain. Choose reinforced doors with multipoint locks. Check that the door frame is secure
- Make sure your door is closed properly when you are at home, especially while you are asleep
- Don't write your name and address on your key fob
- Don't leave your keys under the doormat or in the mail box
- Develop the habit of closing your windows when you go out, even if you don't live on the ground floor
- Protect your windows with shutters, or even grilles and bars. An alarm system is always useful
- Take care to close your shutters in summer, especially as they will help to protect your apartment from the heat of the sun
- Also, close your shutters at night when you are asleep. Today, some cat burglars operate even when the occupants are asleep
- Remember that the space between the slats of a roller shutter that is partly lowered will allow fresh air to enter, but can also be used to lift the shutter by a few centimetres, making it possible for an intruder to gain access
Protecting your possessions
To protect your possessions, you should:
- Keep your jewellery and valuables in a safe place (do not hide them in piles of laundry, under the wardrobe or under mattresses, as these hiding places are well known to burglars). You can also hire safes in banks
- Install a safe in the wall, or solidly fixed, to delay the activities of the burglars and perhaps make them abandon the burglary
- If you have very valuable goods (such as a collection of paintings or valuable jewellery), it is highly advisable to install an alarm system connected to a security centre.