After experiencing a burglary at Christmas 2018, being a single female, was debilitating, to say the least. Three men broke into my home via my garage and stole more than you could imagine in a few minutes. I quickly had to scratch upon the home and personal safety and security. I had a security door, floodlights, window braces and an alarm, so where had it gone wrong, enabling these mongrels to break into my garage.
My car was in the garage and I was awake in bed at the time. I heard the noise but thought it was a neighbour arriving home. It was only when they tried ripping out the gun safe from the wall did I realise it was in my garage. I ran down the stairs and they heard me and off they drove. Not before they had stolen all my expensive tools, toolbox, raided the car and the garage remote.
How could this happen? I had all the right things in place. Thankfully, a local security company and the police came to my assistance and that’s when I began to learn the sheer gall of these people. Although my back door was a security door they still found a way of jigging the lock to get in. I had windows all around the garage and they could see what I had “on offer”. I knew they had “cased” the house previously as all the security lights around the house had been pushed upwards so they wouldn’t come on. They knew I was home!
It is terrifying being on your own and coping with three men that broke in!
- They stole more than $3,000 worth of tools
- Taken the car manual
- Taken the garage remote (it was in the car)
- Taken more than $2,000 worth of garden tools – all Stihl
- Ripped the gun safe from the wall (but didn’t manage to take it)
- And numerous other items
- How did they get so much so quickly?
- When did they case my house?
- How did they get into a security door?
- Why take the car manual?
- Why take the garage remote?
- Did they know I had guns (I had not told anyone except my boss and one friend)
- How did they get so much so fast?
- Would they have hurt me?
- Would they have got into the house?
- Would they come back!!
What I learned and want to pass on
Thanks to some great security people, they went through it all step by step to highlight how this had happened. Usually, someone comes during the day with a “delivery”. They walk around the house and take a look for a spot to “leave the delivery”, checking your security. I even had security stickers on the windows! They could see in the garage windows, assessed what and where their “treasure” was. The upturning of the spotlights and where they were placed. The positioning of their car for a quick getaway. These were professionals, not young looters stumbling on an opportunity.
Although I had an alarm, it was not partitioned for different parts of the house so I didn’t have it on when I was in bed. I had brackets on the windows but not all. The security specialist showed me how they had jigged the security lock on the back door and that the new locks actually go into the framework and brickwork for more strength. He showed me how the gun safe had been pulled from the wall even though I had it drilled into the floor. How leaving my car unlocked (as most people do) had given them additional treasure and that the manual and garage remote were taken so they could come back and take the car. PANIC!
The resulting sleepless nights, listening to every sound and getting up to check outside was proving to be debilitating, so here are some tips that they taught me that I hope will help you and what they implemented in my home did not cost a fortune either.
Tips and Tricks
- Put padlocks on each side of the garage door just above the trackwheel so the door won’t go up even with the remote
- Tape your red string emergency door lever to its bracket so you can un-tape if you need to use it, but they cant hook it over the top of garage door (see links for these tips)
- I put a better lock on the back door
- Blinds are now up at the garage windows
- Lock your car even though it’s in your garage, keeping the car inaccessible and your belongings inside. (some people even leave their keys in the car)
- Leave a light on and vary the rooms
- I had all windows fitted with brackets so I could have them open but they can’t get in
- The alarm was reprogrammed so the bottom part of the house and garage are on all night
- Tell a trusted neighbour when you’re out
- Have an alarm monitoring company
- Have a “beware of the dog sticker”
- The gun safe was refitted with bolts in the walls and floor that are a minimum of 75mm and no spaces for hands to grab the safe
- I also have personal safety defence items that I can use
- Where possible have a dog
- A driveway alarm has been installed along with camera
- Night LCD camera’s has been strategically placed outside
- Have a spotlight that is out of reach – on the roof
- Have a video doorbell at your door
- Have a combination entry lock on your door
It sounds a lot but if you do the main items first that will make it a “too hard” attempt as they need to get in and out fast. Always, as a single female, think of your personal security and what to do to defend yourself. Using my gun would have broken the law so that’s a no-no (unless you’re in the USA), but other items would not.
The Insurance claim
Now this section will not surprise you at all!! Yep, you guessed it, the hoops you now need to jump through to make your claim. Three days after the burglary I was assigned a case manager whose opening statement was “you sat in bed whilst your house was being burgled”!! Needless to say after reporting this to a supervisor and how I was going to put it on social media that night, I was immediately assigned a new “manager”. I was given a spreadsheet that you couldn’t read, to complete along with cost, receipts and photos of the items. So I ask you, how many people can find the receipts or have taken photos of all your tools? What if you had moved countries as I had? The nightmare begins…….
Rule No 1
- Do not tolerate any BS designed to make your claim null and void. Record all conversations on your phone and tell them you are doing so.
Rule No 2
- Today, take photos of all the items in your garage and your house, it will take thirty minutes. Do close-ups of the make and serial numbers.
Rule No 3
- Have a receipt pouch that all receipts get put into
Rule no 4
- Where possible mark your items with a bit of paint this makes resale more difficult
Rule No 5
- Make sure of the price as insurance companies DO NOT refund you the original price, they refund the price THEY can buy it for!!! Check this with your insurance company before taking out the insurance.
Rule No 6
- Write down the makes of items and where you bought it if you don’t have receipts. A closeup photo is good.
Rule No 7
- Always report to the police, a claim needs a Police case number otherwise you probably won’t be refunded
The police were there in about 4 minutes because I had a gun on the premises. They were supportive and kind and took down the details. Forensics only took prints from the gun safe and nothing else!!
They did not ask who had been to the property or investigate whether I suspected anyone at all. The reason is this:- they cannot prosecute without proof, fingerprints, full clear facial photo or camera recording, full photo of a number plate. In other words, little chance of catching them. You are also limited to what you can do in your own home to protect yourself. I do have empathy for the police as their hands are tied in getting people into court and the mongrel thieves know this.
Ladies, learn self-defence!
So, in conclusion, my lovely community, don’t lose sleep, take action! If you want a safe get specialist advice as most safes can be broken into in a minute. See Youtube video on this. Be safe lovely people!!