Remember - You don't have to open the door!
Most callers are genuine, but some aren't. Burglars won't go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock and be invited in. So always be on guard when unexpected visitors - men, women or even children - turn up at the door.
Occasionally some callers will pretend to be on official business from utility companies (gas, electricity, water) or the council. They may pretend to be trades people who are calling to carry out urgent repairs or may claim that they have lost something in your back garden.
Lock the back door! (and close the windows)
Some distraction burglars will know you are at home and will call at your front door in order to keep you talking there while their friend goes round the back and steals from the back of the house. It’s always a good habit to keep the back door locked in any case. During the day you just need to turn the key in the lock, but do remember to take the key out at night or when you go out.
Acknowledge a call at the door
It is essential that you acknowledge the call, otherwise the caller will think the home is unoccupied. Of course, acknowledging a call at the door is very different to actually opening the door to a caller. Try to see the face of the caller but stay safe: If you live in a house, you could pop upstairs and talk to the caller from the complete safety of an open first floor window. You can also look through the clear glazed panel of your front door, if you have one, or use a door viewer. You may even fit one of the new smart doorbells which allow you to view a caller and some will even record them on a short video and allow you to acknowledge the vistor over the internet.
Keeping the door closed
There is nothing wrong with keeping your entrance door closed to an unexpected caller. An enhanced security door is most effective when it’s closed and locked! There is no obligation to open the door to strangers. During the day if the door is opened, open it on the chain.
If you are disabled you can get a simple door phone. They are cheap to buy and easy to install and will save you a lot of effort. In fact door phones for ‘closed door’ are a good idea anyway, because you can acknowledge the call from the comfort of an arm chair.
Opening the door on the chain
For those who prefer to open the door, apply the door chain or door bar or other restrictive mechanism that you might have.
This will let you have a clear view of the caller and be able to talk face-to-face and pass things like identification cards through the gap. If your home has a very narrow hallway, where the door is almost the same width as the hall, then you might not be able to look at the caller through the gap. In these situations try fitting a makeup mirror on the wall right by the doorframe that has been angled slightly to bring the caller’s face into view. You can often stick these to the wall using blue-tak. If you need to go and get something for the caller from another part of your home keep the door chain on and close and lock the door while you fetch the item. You should also do this when you are checking a caller’s identification. If they’re genuine they won’t mind, even if it’s pouring down.
To protect yourself from distraction burglary
- Beware of anyone who says they are in a hurry - if in doubt, call a neighbour or friend
- Check to see who is at the door by using your door viewer, or looking through a front window Always put the chain on before you open the door as this is a barrier against unwanted callers
- When an unexpected caller claims they work for one of the utility companies, they must be able to quote your password and unique customer number and produce an identity card
- All of the utility companies operate password schemes - contact the customer services department and set up a password with them
- Make a note of your customer number, which can be found at the top of the utility bill and keep it handy - this number is unique to your household
- As added proof of identity, genuine trades people should carry an identification card with their photograph on -check this carefully and keep the chain on.