How Do Burglars Break Into Properties? A Locksmiths Insight

hampstead house security

In the last year the burglary rate in London has been 6.65 per 1000 population, 5.08 being residential burglary. As Barnet based locksmiths experienced in emergency burglary repairs in London we see how thieves break into houses on a daily basis.

Burglary in London

A number of the areas IKS Locksmiths cover in London are in the top most burgled areas in the UK. The London areas with the highest burglary rates are;

  • Enfield
  • Kensington & Chelsea
  • Hackney
  • Barnet
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Brent
  • Harrow
barnet high street
Image Courtesy of oatsy40

How Thieves Break Into Houses

There are definite trends in how intruders gain access to properties. Knowing how burglars break into homes can help you prevent the risk of burglary. Most break ins we attend could have been prevented with security measures. We are familiar with the most common ways thieves break into houses.

In this article in The Telegraph an ex burglar gives tips on How To Burglar Proof Your Home. In this post, we share our security advice as locksmiths approved by The Master Locksmiths Association.

Thieves look out for particular things when deciding which properties to target. There are certain things that are a green light to intruders.

What Makes A Property a Target for Burglary

  • Vacant Properties
  • Isolated Properties
  • Valuables on view
  • Small easy to carry valuables
  • Low levels of physical security
  • Tools & ladders
burglary prevention
Image source unknown

You can read What Makes Your Home a Target for Burglary here and about Ways to Stop Burglars From Targeting Your Home here.

The 5 Most Common Ways That Burglars Break Into Houses

One thing that all the most common break-in methods have in common is that they are preventable with the correct physical security measures in place.

1) Most Intruders Gain Access Through the Front Door

front door security

The most common way for intruders to break into a property is through the front door. When this happens it is usually a case of forced entry due to inadequate locks and security measures in place.

There are various methods intruders use to break into a front door.

Lock Snapping

Lock snapping is common with vulnerable UPVC doors. It usually occurs when the lock is not up to the latest standard. This will be something easily visible to a burglar as the cylinder will protrude from the door. It can then be grasped with a tool and snapped.

snapped lock barnet

Lock snapping on UPVC and composite doors can be prevented by installing an anti-snap cylinder. For the best security choose a British Standard 3 Star Diamond Sold Secure Rated cylinder. You can read about Why Anti Snap Locks are a Must for UPVC Doors here.

Forced Entry

I do see a considerable amount of access by forced entry. This usually happens when it is obvious that a door isn’t strong or glass is smashed.

This ex burglar shows just how quick and easy it can be done.

There are a number of security solutions for reinforcing a weak door to prevent forced entry.

  • Birmingham Bar
  • London Bar
  • Hinge Bolts

Security grilles for house windows and doors are probably the best form of physical security as well as a massive deterrent for burglars.

Lock Bumping

Lock bumping is a method mainly used by locksmiths but it is good to have high security locks that are resistant to lock bumping for the best security. Criminals are always developing new techniques of gaining access.

Lock Picking

The same applies to lock picking which is less common as it takes time but it is advisable to have maximum security front door locks resistant to lock picking.

Letterbox Entry

It is important that your lock is positioned so that it cannot be accessed through the letterbox. Also leaving keys visible through the letterbox is not a good idea. An experienced locksmith will know where a letterbox and lock should be positioned to maintain security.

You can read about How to Make a Front Door More Secure here.

2) Many Burglaries are Through a Ground or First Floor Window

burglar using a window to enter the property
Image courtesy of Informedmag

There are a number of reasons window security can be compromised.

Windows Left Open

It is common for windows to be left open in the summer, making access easy for the opportunist burglar.

Poor Window Security

Another issue is windows without locks or windows being smashed. Windows should always have key operated locks for security and insurance purposes.

Incorrectly Installed Double Glazing

Intruders can remove UPVC windows which have been incorrectly installed.

This is an issue that I have seen on a number of occasions. It is important that the beading on double glazed windows is on the inside and not the outside. Something that is clearly visible and intruders look for.

The beading is to allow the pane of glass to be replaced. If it is on the outside the pane can be popped out in seconds as you can see in the video in this article.

Anyone who has double glazed windows should check that they are beaded on the inside! If it is on the outside contact the company that installed them and make a complaint. This is a great security risk!

Professional window bars installation provides high security. Bespoke security grilles for windows can be designed to look discreet or be used as a feature. Fixed or collapsible security grilles can be an excellent deterrent and prevent access.

Read our Guide to Window Security here.

3) Intruder Access Through a Back Door is Common

back door security

Back doors have the advantage to intruders in that they can often be concealed from the main street. This gives an intruder more time to gain access through forced entry and even smashing the glass. Also many back doors can be vulnerable and intruders will seek out patio doors with low levels of security.

UPVC patio doors without the latest high security locks are a target. Read about How to Make French Patio Doors More Secure here.

Sliding doors are perhaps the easiest means of access when they have inadequate locks. They can literally be lifted off the runners. Read about Sliding Glass Door Security here.

4) Some Intruders Gain Access Via a Garage

Garage door security
Image source unknown

Access to a property via a garage is less common but does happen. Find out about The Best Garage Security and How To Burglar Proof a Garage here.

5) Access Through to an Unlocked Entrance

patio door security

Access through unlocked doors & windows is the least common method of burglary, yet it does happen more often than you would expect. Good habits of locking up when you go out and at night are really important because intruders are opportunists and you could be unlucky.

The worst thing about a burglary without forced entry is that your insurance policy will not pay out if you have not secured your property as specified in your home contents insurance policy. Read our Guide to Insurance Approved Locks here.

Most burglaries are a result of poor attention to detail when it comes to security.

Burglary warning signs

Quite often there are signs that burglars are targeting an area. Be on the look out for tell tale signs that intruders are looking for opportunities. Some burglary warning signs are;

  • Strangers asking for help or to use the toilet
  • Cold callers
  • Strangers taking photos
  • Unfamiliar vehicles
  • Markings to highlight a target
  • Flyers or stickers

If you haven’t got Neighbourhood Watch set up in your area it is well worth doing.

The Best Burglary Prevention Methods

Burglary prevention and paying due care and attention to property security are well worth it. Here are our general tips for preventing a burglary in your home. A security survey with a locksmith approved by The Master Locksmith Associaiton is free of charge. If you are in any doubt about your security arrange a comprehensive security survey with an experienced security specialist.

MLA approved Locksmith

Security Specialists Approved by The Master Locksmiths Association

We are MLA approved specialists in the installation of roller shutters and security grilles as well as high security locks and security door entry systems in London. If you would like to know more about protecting your home from burglary with physical security solutions, such as; security gates installation, door reinforcement, high security locks or access control, please contact us to arrange a free security survey.

Main image courtesy of Leslie Archard

How can we help you?

For professional security advice and information call to speak directly to Martin, our Master Locksmith and security specialist.

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Master Locksmiths Association

Master Locksmiths Association



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    Unit E2,
    Queens Rd,
    Barnet EN5 4DJ
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    North London
    N20 8ED
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