Safety tips to prevent theft in the summer

29/07/2019 18:18 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The month of August arrives and many people take advantage of a few vacation days to go on a trip, fleeing the heat of the big city. This leaves many homes empty and at the mercy of thieves, who are very aware of this situation.

To prevent our holidays from ending badly, security forces make various recommendations to prevent home theft. This advice is focused on prevention and stops thieves from obtaining information that tells them which houses are empty.

As explained by the Chief of the Police Investigation Unit (GUB), Juan Rodríguez Fernández, “thieves are informed by various means to know if people are leaving and if they are leaving the flat empty.” Therefore, the most important precaution to take is to “avoid advertising our holidays.”

Be careful with social networks Social networks have become a primary source of information for home thieves. Often unconsciously, there are many people who publish information that makes it clear that they will be away on vacation. An innocent comment can give many clues about our plans. And although we may think that we have activated our account privacy, thieves find ways to access this information. “Many years ago, this did not happen, but today we put a lot of private data on the internet and thieves can get a lot of information,” said Officer Juan Rodríguez.

The first recommendation, therefore, is not to put any sensitive information on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Similarly, the police also recommend avoiding talking in public spaces about our travel plans, since “if we make a comment at the bar, the information can run and reach anyone.” In this sense, we must especially try not to share information about our absence, or the days or times when we will not be at home, so as not to give strangers any chance to enter our flats. Home prevention measures Discretion is the best way to prevent thieves from knowing that our flat will be empty for a few days.

But there are also various other actions that we can take to deter possible robberies. First, of course, we must make sure that we leave the doors and windows tightly closed. At the same time, it is recommended not to leave the blinds down at all, since from the street they can give the clue that a house is empty. We should not leave phone messages such as, “You’re calling the Perez home, we’re on holiday, and we’ll call you when we’re back…”. It is better to leave a message like, “At this time, we cannot speak. Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.”

Another action we can take is to install a programmable clock that turns the light, radio or TV on and off at different times, making it seem that we are at home. Thieves tend to watch the houses where they suspect no one is there, and these measures can suggest that it is not safe to try to enter. 

Alarms as deterrents If possible, it is highly recommended to install an electronic alarm device. “These alarms are highly dissuasive, and it is proven that if you have an alarm installed and your neighbour does not, thieves will try to enter the flat that does not have one.” Also, we can install a good security door, with a bolt and open-angle peephole. And during the days that we will be out, we should not disconnect the doorbell or the electric current.

On the other hand, we must prevent the mailbox from filling up during the days we are away. The police recommend that we ask a trusted friend to collect the mail from the mailbox, and leave our address and contact phone number with them while we are away, as well as another set of keys. This is always much safer than using makeshift hiding places. Of course, we should not leave the keys in the mailbox under any circumstances, nor inside pots or under the carpet, since these are the first places where thieves look.

Avoid incidents at the flat In addition to the tips to prevent theft, we also have to take measures against fires, floods and similar incidents. In this sense, the Prevention, Fire Fighting and Rescue Service (SPEIS) makes three very basic recommendations aimed at keeping our flats in good condition while we are away. Firstly, we must close all doors, windows and balconies, including roof openings and patios. The second recommendation is that we collect awnings, umbrellas and textile materials from our terraces and balconies. Finally, we must make sure that we have closed the gas and water facilities before leaving home.