Seven mistakes that raise the risk of theft

From opening a window to checking the phone - how we risk being a victim of crime

Burglar looking at laptop through window

Being a victim of crime is never your fault. If you are a victim of theft, then the only person who could ever be held to blame is the criminal themselves. However, there are a number of very common things many of us do out of habit that could make us more likely to be targeted by criminals, so it's worth being aware of the seven common mistakes that put you at risk from theft.

1. Opening the window
In hotter weather most of us will throw open the window to let the breeze in. The trouble is that many of us will leave it open when we wander into another room - or even when we leave the house. Almost a third of all burglaries are the result of someone leaving a door or a window open - and then forgetting to close it when we wander off. The summer is the peak risk, so if you want to stay safe you need to remember to close the window, and to fit catches on all your windows that prevent them being opened more than a crack.

2. Leaving the key in the lock
It can be difficult to know the right thing to do to stay safe. Most people lock the front door when they are at home, but many will leave the key in the lock so they can find it in an emergency. Unfortunately, this is as good as an open door to a burglar. They may be able to turn the lock through the letterbox, or hook the keys through the letterbox and open it from the outside. Essentially leaving your key in the lock is roughly as secure as leaving the door unlocked.

3. Leaving curtains open at night
In 2011 a burglar was told to write a letter apologising to his victims. Instead he decide to write to them, explaining that as far as he was concerned it was their fault, because they had left their curtains open when they went to bed, so it had been easy to spot that nobody was around, and the house was safe to target.

4. Putting your phone in your back pocket
Most people check their phone so often nowadays that occasionally they slip it into their back pocket without thinking. The trouble is that according to the Metropolitan Police this is one of the key places targeted by pickpockets. They say you should keep it in a zipped pocket, ideally in a bag slung across your body where you can see it at all times.

5. Checking your phone at the station
The Metropolitan Police warn that thieves will target the areas around tube stations, because when people emerge and get reception, they will often check for messages, or make a call. This offers the double-whammy of someone not paying attention to their surroundings, and showing thieves exactly where they are keeping their phone. It's best to keep walking, find a secure spot, and then check your phone.

6. Leaving your gadgets on the train table
It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security on the train, so we get all the things we need for the journey out of our bag, and place them on the table. British Transport Police warn that criminals will commonly enter the train and wait until it is just about to leave the station, before snatching items from the table and jumping off the train.

7. Falling asleep on public transport
If you're stuck on a train for hours, it's easy to find yourself drifting off to sleep. Unfortunately, if you have any luggage with you, this offers a perfect opportunity for a criminal to lift your luggage. The British Transport Police say it's best to avoid drifting off, but if you can't, it's vital to keep your possessions in close contact to deter thieves.

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