Distraction burglary is a strategy used by burglars to target the elderly and other vulnerable individuals in Auckland, New Zealand. To avoid having your parents or grandparents the next victim of a distraction burglary, you have to know how they happen and what measures you should take to prevent them.
Read on to find out how these burglaries occur and note the following tips for specific distraction burglary home security.
In a distraction burglary, the burglar draws out an unsuspecting resident based on a convincing pretext. They make use of their collection of unimaginative excuses from “I’m here to check the pipes/water/electrical wiring, etc.” to “Can I use the toilet?”, “My car broke down” or “Have you seen my cat?”.
While the resident is occupied, the burglar’s accomplice makes his way into the resident’s home and snatches up whatever he can within easy reach like money, jewelry, cellphones and wallets. He may also pick up IDs and any valuable looking documents he can use for the purposes of identify theft.
Why the elderly are targeted
Burglars see the elderly as easy targets for the following reasons:
- They often live alone, with their grown children living away from home.
- They are likely to forget to arm their house alarm systems and slip on basic security measures while out of the house.
- They may suffer from slower reflexes or impaired cognition and judgment.
- They are likely to require assistance in many things like maintaining their property, or carrying heavy items
- They are generally accommodating and cooperative individuals. This means they’re more likely to believe a person who asks for help, not suspecting that it might be a thief setting up a distraction burglary.
Distraction burglars at work
Burglars pretend to be authority figures, a person asking for help, or service-oriented person, anyone you could trust to have a reason to being on your property so they can get close to you and gain access to your home.
They can pose as a:
- Police officer
- Courier driver
- Door-to-door salesperson
- Person asking for directions
- Person asking about a missing child or pet
In another variation, a distraction burglar will inform you that you have won a prize or gift from a well known brand or company.
The visitor would tell you that your name was randomly selected and that you need to go to a certain place to claim your prize, or fill out a prize acceptance form with personal information.
Distraction burglary home security
- Keep your doors locked at all times. There is no excuse to leave entrances in your home unsecured. Always double check all entry points especially the front and rear doors. The same goes for windows wide enough to be used by a burglar as an entry point.
- Identify your visitor, before responding to someone at the door, check the person out first by looking through a window or your doors peep hole. Even if you recognize the person but are unsure of his purpose for calling, ask that person first before opening your door.
- Ask the visitor for valid identification. If the caller claims to be on official business, check his identification. Usually, representatives from legitimate companies like electric, gas, or water companies will call your home phone first and inform you if there is a real situation before sending someone in person.
- Before asking for a visitors ID, make sure the safety chain on your door is secure before opening the door. Unfortunately, IDs can be easily faked so if you are still unsure even after checking a visitors ID, close your door first, make sure it’s locked, then call his office to confirm legitimacy. If after all the above measures, you’re still unsure of a visitors legitimacy, never let him into your home.
- Do not be deceived by appearances. Burglars often blend in with the crowd by looking harmless and ordinary. This is how they can easily trick unsuspecting people. Do not let your guard down even if the caller looks genuine, helpless, or has a child in tow. These are often tactics distraction burglars use to gain trust and get you to drop your guard.
- Do not leave valuables in plain sight, especially near doors and windows. Keep your money, expensive jewelry, and important documents in a safe or a secret hiding place. Use dresser top jewelry boxes for inexpensive jewelry only.
- If you believe the visitor has a legitimate reason for getting you out of the house. Take your keys with you, set your home alarm system, and lock up the house before you go. As an added countermeasure, call a trusted neighbor, family member, or friend to let them know where you are going before leaving.
- If you notice a suspicious person or activity, immediately report it to the NZ Police to prevent others from being victimized. Awareness and vigilance are important qualities you should always practice. Pass along helpful information and security tips to your neighbors and loved ones so they can also be aware.
Distraction burglary can be prevented as long as there is always awareness and vigilance on your part.
It’s also important to spread awareness to prevent others, especially your loved ones from becoming easy targets of distraction burglary.