Theft in dwelling houses is mostly an urban phenomenon since most of the wealth which thieves target is concentrated among urban dwellers. In my 35 years of police service I have rarely seen major housebreakings in rural areas. Urban centres provide a degree of anonymity, facelessness & easy and quick getaway unlike rural areas.
Properties like jewellery and hard earned cash of individuals are lost annually in housebreaking. This not taking into consideration unreported cases or cases not recorded by the police. Most of the thefts take place due to lack of awareness as to how to protect ones wealth and following basic principles of security in the house.
A certain amount of carelessness too creeps in due to overconfidence that no robbery can take place in the place where one lives.
Some common factors which contribute to housebreakings are:
Single houses are more prone & apartments less prone as the thieves rarely want to confront unless they are dacoits.
Unoccupied houses are generally targeted.
In some areas, houses are targeted during summer months where people tend to sleep on the terrace leaving the bed room unoccupied.
Houses which are not occupied with telltale signs of absence of lights in the night or newspapers of a few days lying on the porch easily attract thieves.
Our property is our hard earned income. We can prevent its theft by taking some essential security precautions in the building structure itself and also preparing to take some basic steps to deny access to the thieves to your property.
Thief psychology is such that he would like to enter and leave the premises within a minimal possible time and not having to confront anyone. The longer the stay during the commission of theft the great is the chance of someone coming. Most thieves do not like to be caught in the act, though many thieves are repeat offenders.
It is important to deny any unauthorised access into the building or the house and ideally it can be at the construction stage itself. Most illegal access are through the only available access, doors or windows though occasionally making a hole in the wall is also common in some areas. Most main doors are made of plywood which are generally not strong and thieves can easily break them. It is therefore imperative to have teak wood doors in addition to a steel grill if necessary. In individual homes and bungalows, it is always advisable to have minimum number of doors opening outside and all outside facing doors should be made of teak. Door bolts should be made of steel and not aluminium which are easily breakable. In addition multiple locks or locking system will make it difficult for the thief to break in or it would take an unusually long time to break. These may be provided which the thieves would like to avoid.
Window grills should not be screwed to the frame but welded since the screws can easily be removed from outside. The thickness of the steel should be adequate to prevent easy bending.
Without spoiling the aesthetics of the building sunshades, car sheds should not be accessed to reach the first floor. The door facing outside on the first floor should be similarly secured. Wherever possible deny access from the neighbouring building to your building. Compound wall should be of reasonable height without any projection or foothold from outside. Additional fencing on the compound wall would be an added advantage (Choose between aesthetics & safety).
Inside the house, take care of yours valuables. It is common phenomenon in housebreakings that the thieves generally target portable items like gold, silver, cash, watches, expensive items like mobiles, laptop which they can easily carry and get away quickly from the scene of offence. Rarely would you see thieves getting away with heavy items like TV, Music system etc. Since portable items are small in size, it is easy to store them safely and leave unnoticed.
Traditionally we feel that a steel almirah with secret lockers is a safe place to store jewellery. Unfortunately most thieves are able to pry these open very easily. I have rarely seen a thief enter a house and go away without being able to break open the almirah.
Since I started with the observation that unoccupied houses are mostly targeted while going out of the house for a long duration, it is advisable to keep your jewellery and cash in a bank locker. If it is not always possible, then keep them in an unusual place. I have seen in some houses which were targeted, the family managed to save their jewellery since they left them in a drum filled with rice. If possible insure the jewellery or leave it in a friend’s house but please avoid leaving jewellery or valuables in an unoccupied house. Today many theft proof lockers are also available in the market where your valuables can be safely hidden.
Thieves usually reconnaissance the target house before breaking into it. Un-lifted newspaper, post, milk, locked houses or gates lack of lighting attracts their attention. Hence it is important that there are not visible to the outsider. When you are going out of house ensure that these tell-tale signs are not visible.
Technology has both its merits & de-merits. Criminals are using technology to get away with crime. It is therefore, important to beat them at their own game by protecting our assets through technology.
Police are overburdened and are unable to give adequate attention to property protection and detection. While the all India detection of property offence is 35%, the recovery of property lost is an abysmal 8%. Hence if you lose your property in a theft, there is only an 8% chance for you to recover your lost property which is frustrating. Hence ensure the safety of your property which thieves cannot steal rather than filing a police complaint for identifying the perpetrator and recovering your property.
Technological advancements have kept pace with the requirement of asset protection. Depending on the value of the property to be protected and the extent to which one can invest in technology, gadgets are available in plenty to keep your premises under constant watch 24×7.
CCTV is the first gadget in this line which can capture images of people trying to unauthorisedly break into houses. Placed at strategic positions it can capture images of thieves entering houses or in the act of committing theft. Modern day CCTVs can be provided with video analytics which can generate an alarm at any attempt to unauthorisedly break into houses. Neighbours and police can be alerted and the thieves will make a hasty retreat. It is better to prevent a theft than detecting it. Video analytics can help in preventing a theft
GLASS BREAKING SENSORS
Glass breaking sensors get activated if a window or door glass is broken during an attempted break in.
This is an Indoor intrusion detection system where the breaking of glass of windows to gain entry into a premise by sensor fitted on glass panes of the window of any building. If someone breaks the glass, it generates a specific range of frequencies that is different from vibrations caused by other disturbances and it is precisely detected using a Band Pass Filter which will filter out other frequencies except that of glass break only and activates an alarm on positive detection. Thus false alarms are minimised.
LASER DETECTION SYSTEM
Infrared laser beams can be used at strategic portion which will raise an alarm if someone crosses the path.
It is an invisible and active protection system. It can be used for indoor applications also. A transmitter consisting of an infra-red source emits an invisible beam and that is made into a sharp pencil beam for rectilinear propagation by using a lens arrangement and the pencil beam is received by a photo electric detector after being focussed by lens arrangement at the receiver placed at about 70 – 100 ft. outdoor or 20-30 ft. in indoor application. Transmitter and receiver are to be perfectly aligned. There are in fact, two pencil beams, one above the other with a spacing of a few inches and when both the beams are interrupted by intrusion, only then the alarm is activated.
MAGNETIC CONTACTS (DOOR SWITCHES)
This device is utilised in detecting unauthorised entry to any secure room when the door is closed during non-working hours. It works on a device consisting of two small magnetic contacts. One is fitted in the Door Frame connected through an electrical wire and the other terminal being connected to the Main Process Control. The other magnet is fitted in the door sidings exactly at the opposite part. Once the door is kept closed, the magnets will have closed contact. When the door is opened the magnets get displaced. This disconnection of two magnets will trigger the main process which in turn raises an alarm as well as glow of red LED, indicating alarm condition.
Video door installed on the main doors can be used to see and communicate with the person or the other side of the door without having to open the door.
INTERNET CONNECTED VIDEO CAMERAS
Video cameras and other gadgets can be connected through internet to your mobile phones which can activate a warning signal anywhere in the world. The owner can alert the neighbours.
INTERNET CONNECTION WITH CAMERA
Cameras placed inside the houses are now being used extensively through internet to monitor the activities of small children and elderly people who are alone in the house if both parents are away at work.
PASSSIVE INFRARED (PIR) SENSOR
A passive infrared sensor (PIR sensor) is an electronic sensor that measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view. They are most often used in PIR-based motion detectors.
A passive infrared (PIR) sensor measures infrared light emitted from objects that generate heat, and therefore infrared radiation, in its field of view.
Crystalline material at the centre of a rectangle on the face of the sensor detects the infrared radiation. The sensor is actually split into two halves so as to detect not the radiation itself, but the change in condition that occurs when a target enters its field. These changes in the amount of infrared radiation on the element in turn change the voltages generated, which are measured by an on-board amplifier. When motion is detected the PIR sensor outputs a high signal on its output pin, which can either be read by an MCU or drive a transistor to switch a higher current load.
HOME /OFFICE INTRUSION DETECTION SYSTEM
These are small panels like a telephone which are connected to various security & safety systems in the house / office. These have multiple facilities and once installed can provide a very safe & secure protection.
How does Home / Office Intrusion system work
K.Nityanandam is a retired police officer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org