It is surprising just how easy it is for a burglar to break into your property. Carelessness, neglect or a lack of maintenance on the part of the proprietor will often enable the villain to walk right in. He will then establish an escape route before starting helping himself to your valued possessions. Or, worst still, wreck up the place for his amusement!
I brought up the question of security with a friend who is very knowledgeable about real estate in Malta. He told me that while Malta real estate has never been unduly occupied with the problem, and that when compared to other EU countries Malta’s slate is almost clean, house robberies have occurred. According to the police, the robbers’ connection to a particular location is often made through the innocuous chattering of an unsuspecting maid.
However, certain vulnerable areas around the house might constitute an invitation to the devious mind and the occasional inspection of your property is recommended. It is best to put yourself in the burglar’s shoes and ask where would be the easiest place to break in. If in the past you may have been unlucky enough to have locked yourself out, that’s the place to start. How did you get back in? Was it easy?
You may have been able to reach a window that you always leave open for ventilation. Perhaps you may have been able to reach a window through the handy ladder you keep in an unlocked shed? Or you had to break a small pane of glass to reach the door’s or window’s handle? Anyway it helps to systematically look at each outer door and window checking for weakness in structure, fittings and ease of access.
Re windows my friend from the Malta real estate market has highlighted a couple of points. Special care should be given to windows that are partially hidden. It could be fences, walls, trees, bushes. Thieves prefer not to be seen when they are at work. And not to be lulled into thinking that weak windows on the upper floors are out of danger. Oftentimes thieves come in through the upstairs windows using the drainpipes running close to the bathrooms for scaling.
Door-frames may be more accessible than the actual locks. If a frame is loose or rotten it may be levered out, then using the gap between the door and the frame, the two could be levered apart. Doors with glass panels are particularly bad since the tools are available to easily break the glass and then reach out to operate the locks. And speaking of locks it’s important to be able to differentiate between the strong security stuff and the easily forced cheap latches.
I have to confess that the defence of one’s property (if you pardon my rather melodramatic turn of phrase) imbues the gallant defender with lots of interesting information which would not otherwise have become so easily available. For example while researching this feature I came across the following hints. “If you have blinds in your windows, make sure you have the rounded side facing out and not facing in, so that when someone tries to peek into your house all they will see is your ceiling, not the floor plan and all the things you have.” Now who would have thought of that one?
Another clever tip concerns the way one tackles an answering machine. Apparently thieves do try to make contact before getting down to business in order to ensure that the place is empty. Thus if you have an answering machine, it is better to say: “Sorry we are busy and cannot come to the phone. Please leave your message.” Any other explanation may construe an invitation to a break in.
Since vacant real estate in Malta might offer an attraction to burglars if you are away, please ask your trusted neighbors to take in all of your mail and newspaper deliveries. Parking his or her car in the driveway at night, having at least one light on a timer (even when you are home) and leaving on a radio makes it look as if someone is home.
I have also become aware of the importance of getting to know who your neighbors are. Establishing a rapport with the neighbours in your area is also the best way to protect them as well as yourself. It is amazing how a caring neighbourhood could have a detrimental effect on villains who seem to sense if they are being watched or not by a thousand eyes spread out in all directions.
When all is said and done I believe that following a few steps to ensure that your house is the safest place on earth works wonders for one’s peace of mind.
Written by: Tony Cassar Darien