Delay burglars by 3 minutes to reduce chance of break-in

Number of reported burglaries peaked in November when there were 2,100

The chances of a break-in are greatly reduced if it takes a burglar more than three minutes to gain entry to your home, Sgt Kelvin Courtney of the National Crime Prevention Unit has said.

Speaking at the start of a Garda Síochána campaign on supporting safer communities, he said there was a four per cent rise in reported residential burglaries last year, compared with 2013.

The number of reported burglaries peaked in November when there were 2,100, compared with 1,400 burglaries in April.

Some €27.6 million worth of goods was stolen during residential burglaries in 2014 and cash or jewellery accounted for 41 per cent of this.


“Burglars like easy opportunities,” Sgt Courtney said. “If they have to make a lot of noise, spend a lot of time or risk being seen, the chances are they won’t bother. A good rule of thumb is the three minute delay test. If you can deny entry for three minutes or more, chances are the burglars will go elsewhere.”

He encouraged people to take the home security checklist challenge, on the Garda website,

Signs of an empty house

Sgt Courtney said more than half of burglars entered through the rear of the home. “Robust doors and windows, properly fitted with quality locking systems present a good physical barrier to the burglar. However, if a door or window has been left open, their security qualities won’t make any difference.”

He encouraged people going on holidays to ask a trusted neighbour to collect post and deliveries. “They might even leave their spare car in your drive way when you’re away. Remember the burglar is looking for signs of an empty house so don’t give them any.” The use of timer switches on lights was also recommended and the campaign encourages people to set their alarms even when they are in the house.

Sgt Courtney noted that 218 sets of car keys were fished from letterboxes in 2014, a doubling of the figure since 2012. He advised householders to be particularly safety-conscious after a burglary in the locality. Almost one in three streets and roads where a burglary occurred recorded a burglary of a second property within 12 months.

In 2014, there were 478 estimated incidents of distraction burglary or rogue trader offences, an increase of 24 per cent on 2013 figures. The campaign recommends using the wide angled viewer and putting on the door chain before opening the front door. Householders should also ensure the back door is locked before opening the front door to a stranger.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times