Anyone who has a professional responsibility to reduce and prevent crime must tread very carefully to get the job done effectively without scaring the public too much. It’s quite a challenge to get the message across about the effects of criminal acts in a such a way that people take notice and act accordingly. If you underplay the risks, people will be less bothered about taking precautionary measures, but if you make too much of a fuss about it, people will be too terrified to leave their homes. Is it better to scare people and keep them safe, or hope that in holding back a little, people will still look after themselves without becoming trapped by fear?

The Fine Line of Crime Prevention

I never thought it would happen to me

This statement is one that is repeated time and again after murders, assaults, natural disasters, or any kind of adverse situation. Most people genuinely seem to believe that they are immune from the darker side of life, and while this might seem like an optimistic frame of mind, it’s really more of a head in the sand approach. These things happen, and they have to happen to someone. We are all “someones” in reality, so no-one has an exemption clause in their life that excludes them from harm. That said, there would be little joy in life if we all went about prepared for a stranger to mug us or expecting to get caught up in a terror attack. Life is for living, for enjoyment, experience and achievement, and these things aren’t going to take place if you stay boarded up in your flat most of the time. It could happen to anyone, but if you take sensible precautions, you will reduce the chances that it will happen to you.

Who bears the responsibility for the results of crime?

There is a joint responsibility between individuals and communities and law enforcement bodies. The authorities take care of crime prevention and find the perpetrators of crime, and individuals should protect themselves as far as they reasonably can. If you bought a puppy, it would be your responsibility to pay for, care for and protect it, exactly like your home. If the vet advises vaccination against parvovirus and you decide it’s not worth the expense, who is responsible when your pup contracts the disease? There’s nowhere to lay the blame except at your own feet. Exactly the same principle applies to your home. If the local residential security officer recommends installing windows that lock with keys and you don’t fit them, then the police can’t be blamed if a thief jimmies your kitchen window and nicks your television.

What does it feel like to be the victim of a burglary?

If you’ve never been burgled, it can be hard to imagine the feelings victims experience. You may tut and say how dreadful a crime it is when a burglary is featured on the news, but like most things in life, it’s hard to empathise with someone when you’ve never been through the experience. The loss of possessions and money is frustrating and can be heart-breaking if items with sentimental value or family heirlooms get taken. Insurance can cover the monetary value of your losses, but never recompense for the emotional trauma. One of the feelings most often expressed by victims of burglaries is the response to having your home and your life invaded by a stranger, who is at the centre of your world for a brief period of time. Your home is your safe haven, your refuge, the place where you and your family feel protected and secure. When a burglar enters your house and goes through your belongings, the act can feel like a personal violation. Victims report that the loss of those feelings of safety and security we should all feel in our homes is one of the most lasting and distressing after effects.

Take action

It should be clear that prevention is better than picking up the pieces after a burglary has taken place. There is plenty of freely available advice on how to protect your home, and a range of security products suitable for most dwellings. If you’re still wondering whether it’s a worthwhile investment, compare the costs of taking preventative measures with the possible losses you could suffer and see which comes out cheaper. Quite apart from the monetary value of any losses, how would you cope with the psychological effects?

If you’re thinking about installing a remote system that could take care of heating and lighting when you’re not home, such as Simply Smart Home’s home automation system, think about getting a security system fitted at the same time. There’s no point spending money on home improvements and luxury goods without taking steps to secure your home against thieves. Take advice from security specialists about what’s best for your home and your budget. They can talk you through how to prevent burglaries in other ways too, such as where you leave spare keys and not leaving ladders leaning against your walls. Simple tips that you may not think about without someone pointing them out, but that could help protect your home without costing you anything. It’s also worth finding out about Neighbourhood Watch schemes in your area, as houses that are part of these schemes are statistically less likely to be targeted.

It’s insurance, not an inevitability

Burglaries do happen, and the effects are hurtful and long-lasting, but the number of burglaries committed still only affects a minority of the population. By taking precautions to deter potential thieves you are reducing your likelihood of being targeted even further. That is the point of installing security systems at your home, to deter theft and make sure you never have to experience what it’s like to have your house ransacked. It’s far better to spend a little now than be faced with financial and emotional losses in the future, and by taking responsibility for your own safety, you stand a much better chance of not becoming another crime statistic.