Celebrity chef Marcus Wareing is a victim. So too, it is suspected, is Crystal Palace footballer Mamadou Sakho, who recently lost valuables worth up to £500,000. Many more have suffered, too, in a new crime wave stretching back to 2017.
Suddenly, burglary tourism is making headlines. As indeed, it should: the wealthy people being targeted have suffered significant losses, while few perpetrators have been caught.
Which in a sense, isn’t surprising. They might have flown in from South American countries only days before, to commit crimes with their airline tickets still in their pockets. As police investigate a given burglary, the perpetrators might already be back in their home countries.
The criminals who broke into Marcus Wareing’s home, for instance, were Chilean, and directed to particular properties by orange markings sprayed onto perimeter fences.
Are you a target?
The South American gangs have a distinctive modus operandi, as we say in the security business. Recognising that lower-storey rooms and entrances generally have better security than upper-storey rooms, they target these ‘softer’ upper-storey rooms often gaining entry via balcony, flat roof or perhaps a conservatory.
Typically, too, they prefer to target homes that are temporarily unoccupied—in the case of both Marcus Wareing and Mamadou Sakho, the properties were empty, with their owners on holiday.
And typically, too, they prefer to target properties in rural or semi-rural locations, often near parks or golf courses. Wimbledon, for instance, is at the moment something of a burglary tourism hotspot, as are other areas of south London.
Taken together, it all tends to mean that intruders are less likely to be either seen or heard entering a targeted property. At Marcus Wareing’s home, for instance, entry into the master bedroom was obtained via a first-floor balcony, breaking the glass in a patio door.
In our view, if you’re a wealthy homeowner, then you’re perfectly correct to be worried about burglary tourism.
Getting the basics right
That said, homeowners can do a lot to protect themselves. Undeniably, it seems that sometimes, homeowners have unintentionally made it easier for burglary tourism gangs to make an entry.
First, make the outer perimeter more difficult to traverse. Erect higher fences, keep fences secure, thicker and in good condition, and consider topping walls with deterrents such as anti-intruder spikes.
Second, be alert to strange marks appearing on walls and fences—sprayed-on orange dots, or other sprayed symbols, may indicate that your property has been targeted.
Third, make it difficult for intruders to gain entry to the upper storeys. Most people know not to leave ladders lying around outside, but few think about garden furniture. In fact, the gangs in question often pile up garden furniture to gain access to the roofs of orangeries, verandas, and conservatories, and from there, effect an entry to an upper-storey room.
Fourth, lock interior doors—so that even if an intruder does gain entry, they’re restricted from progressing with any further, or at least not without great difficulty.
Preventative measures like these are neither expensive nor complicated, but go a long way towards enhancing the security of your property.
Going beyond the basics
Of course, it’s possible to do a lot more. At Knight Security Group, we have considerable experience of protecting and advising clients on security issues, and can offer a wide range of services.
One option might be a home alarm system, including CCTV to warn of intruders, either linked to the local police station or to a monitoring service. Better still would be a provision to have CCTV cameras remotely viewed by a monitoring service, while the home was unoccupied.
Standard CCTV monitoring has its limitations, of course. Thieves are adept at repeatedly and unobtrusively triggering sensors to generate what look like false alarms, prompting the monitoring service to temporarily disable the alarms.
These days, we generally recommend augmenting a CCTV installation with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, delivering advanced analytics, instant alerts and proactive intervention—dramatically boosting its power and effectiveness.
Coupled to ‘zoning’, it’s possible to detect and deter intruders in the grounds of a property, long before they’ve had chance to affect an entry—even intruders doing their best to remain unobtrusive by crawling or rolling on the ground.
In short, there are a lot of possibilities.
Which option is right for you?
Without advice, it can be difficult to know. And at Knight Security Group, our business is providing that advice.
We’ve provided first‑class personal and commercial security services to prestigious clients for more than 25 years, and are members of the Security Industry Authority’s (SIA) Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS), the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
For a confidential conversation, call our chief operating officer Charlie Taylor MSyI, on 0345 658 3430.