Where can I get advice at home

Burglary prevention through free on-site advice from the police

On average there is a break-in somewhere in Germany every two minutes - and the trend has been rising for years.Burglary protection in house and apartment can usually be improved with simple and inexpensive means. The police will advise you on burglary prevention measures, free of charge and on site. These burglar-proof tips will make your home safer.

Good Friday, sometime between afternoon and early evening: a burglar tampered with the massive wooden door at the entrance to a 48-year-old woman's apartment. The door splinters, but the burglar cannot get into the old apartment in Frankfurt am Main.

Too much thoughtlessness about burglary prevention

A week later, the woman is visibly agitated in the criminal police advice center in downtown Frankfurt and wants to know how she can protect her home. The example is typical: Most people only think about effective burglary protection once they or people in their immediate vicinity have been hit. According to a recently published study by the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN), over 70 percent of those surveyed do not use any additional security technology to protect against burglary.

Make windows and doors burglar-proof

"I felt safe for 18 years," says the 48-year-old from Frankfurt, who does not want to give her name. "Now I don't feel safe anymore." Over the years she has become careless and no longer locked the balcony door on the mezzanine floor. She is now locking everything, and she also wants to have another lock built into the front door. Commissioner Manuela Lang explains how she can best attach an additional bolt to the old building door.

Mechanical safeguards have clear advantages over alarm systems. "They are the essential prerequisite for effective burglary protection", it says in a guidebook of the police crime prevention of the federal and state governments. "Burglar alarm systems do not prevent break-ins, they just report it." In many cases, mechanical burglar protection is also cheaper. Because not all old windows and doors have to be swapped out and replaced with burglar-resistant ones. Existing components can almost always be retrofitted with additional locks, cross bolts and reinforced fittings, thereby significantly improving the burglar protection.

Free on-site advice from the police helps with burglary prevention

The police can advise you free of charge about which specific measures are useful in individual cases. In Frankfurt alone, the commissioners of the Criminal Police Advice Center go out about 700 times a year and advise the people on site in their homes. "We look at all the openings in the property," explains Chief Inspector Stefan Hantschmann. In the case of single-family houses, these could be windows, doors or cellar shafts. In the case of apartments, mostly the entrance doors. Anything that invites break-ins is a thorn in the side of the officials. "We then present people with different options for securing, which are also inexpensive," says Hantschmann.

There are around 260 such advice centers in Germany. "Every police headquarters has one," explains Hantschmann. "We mainly advise victims of burglary." People who got on in the neighborhood would come just like building owners who want to install burglar-resistant windows or doors, for example. Advice is usually free of charge nationwide.

Burglary protection through security technology works

All experts agree that burglary prevention measures are effective. How easy it is to use a standard screwdriver to pry open a closed window without a burglar alarm, Hantschmann proves in the Frankfurt advice center. Within a few seconds he opens a window set up for demonstration purposes.

He also lets people he advises on himself - for the aha experience, as he says. "Nobody needs more than three movements to break it open," says Hantschmann. Even experienced burglars would probably grit their teeth at the window right next to it. "Even I can't do it," jokes Hantschmann, who has already pried open many windows and doors for practice purposes. The window has a special burglar protection. The frame shows many traces of the screwdriver, but no one has yet been able to break it.

Statistics also confirm the effectiveness of suitable burglar protection measures. On average, burglars only need ten minutes to complete their deed. You cannot get in so quickly through well-secured windows and doors. The risk of being discovered in the act increases and many perpetrators withdraw without having achieved anything. "Around 40 percent of all break-ins get stuck in the experimental stage, not least because of improvements in security measures," says a joint federal-state communication on the current break-in numbers.

The number of break-ins in Germany has been increasing for years

In addition to a few federal states with declines, several other states reported significant increases again for 2014 - for example Bavaria by almost 30 percent or Baden-W├╝rttemberg by almost 20 percent. The official nationwide number is not yet available, but according to calculations by the German Press Agency, the police recorded a total of more than 152,000 cases. That is the highest value in 16 years and an increase of around two percent compared to the previous year. Since 2008, the police authorities have recorded more break-ins from year to year. Since then, the number of cases has risen by a good 40 percent. The clearance rate, on the other hand, has remained largely constant at around 15 percent.

State funding for investments in burglar protection

It is all the more important to prevent yourself. In some cases, investments in burglar protection measures such as the installation of burglar-resistant windows and doors, the retrofitting of burglar-resistant products such as additional locks or the subsequent installation of roller shutters are also subsidized by the state. However, funding is only available if the investment in more burglary protection with measures for energetic renovation or combined with an age-appropriate renovation. Although various parties have already called for it on several occasions, there are still no nationwide funding pots for burglary protection alone.

Burglary victims often suffer for years

In 2013, the average material damage per break-in was around 4500 euros. "The psychological damage is usually higher than the material one," reports Hantschmann. The federal manager of the victim protection association Weisser Ring, Bianca Biwer, says: "Every eighth person no longer feels safe after a break-in in their home and moves. Every fifth to sixth person suffers long-term from fears and psychosomatic stress."

The 48-year-old woman from Frankfurt was particularly afraid that a criminal could get into the apartment at night. The woman is happy about the tips from policewoman Lang. The officer calms her down and takes away her worries about uninvited guests at night: "Burglars are cowards. They don't want any contact and don't want to be seen. They usually ring or knock before they gain access."

You can find out which simple measures can help here.