Tips on reducing the risk of a break-in at your home in France

From asking the police to check on your property to installing an alarm, we look at ways you can protect against being burgled this summer

There are many things you can do to protect your house from being burgled, such as installing an alarm
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1. Give the impression someone is at home

A simple way to dissuade burglars is to give the impression that someone is home. In today’s world of connected technology, it is straightforward to programme lights, the TV or the radio to turn on and off at specific times.

Tell a close neighbour or friend you are going away, so they can keep a close watch on your property. You could also ask them to go over and open and close the shutters - and maybe water the plants while they are there!

To stop your post building up - a classic sign someone is away - request someone you trust to pick it up or ask France’s postal service La Poste to hold it for you or to temporarily divert it elsewhere.

2. Ask the police to check on your property

The French police and gendarmerie offer an Opération tranquillité vacances service (literally translating as ‘operation calm holidays’), meaning they will monitor your home while you are away.

They will keep tabs on a primary residence for between three to 90 days. You must sign up for the service at least three before you go.

The gendarmes, meanwhile, will also monitor second homes and will do so for up to 12 months.

You can sign up online here or at a police station.

Read more: Did you know French police can check on your home while you are away?

3. Do not talk about your holiday on social media

The information we post on social media can be easily seen by people with less than honourable intentions.

The Hérault gendarmerie in the south of France posted a Facebook post on June 28 showing the dangers of talking about your holidays online.

According to TV channel TF1 info, the worst place to talk about your upcoming holiday is Twitter, where some burglars use precise keywords to identify potential targets.

4. Reinforce your doors and windows

There is a well-known French saying "Chassez-le par la porte, il rentrera par la fenêtre" which translates as “chase him from the door, he will enter by the window”.

To ensure potential thieves do not enter through your doors or windows, you can install unbreakable glass, which costs between €115 to €250 per m2, add a lock to your shutters and even put bars on windows.

TFI, meanwhile, recommends glass doors be avoided as they can be smashed easily. It also recommended hiring a professional locksmith to install a multi-point lock which will not give way to a simple kick. When moving to a new home, it is worth changing the locks, as you do not know who previous residents have given keys to.

And above all - remember to close and lock windows and doors when you go away.

5. Think about how you would get in if you were locked out

One way to protect your property from being burgled is to think about how you would try and get in if you were locked out.

Make sure there are no items in the garden, such as chairs or the bin, that could be used to access upstairs windows.

Cut back overgrown plants and make sure no trees or vines provide a handy way of climbing your home’s walls.

6. Get an alarm

Even if a burglar manages to get inside your home, an alarm going off can stop them in their tracks and send them packing, especially in urban areas where someone will hear it.

You can get various types of alarms, from ones that go off when windows are broken or doors forced, to ones that merely pick up movement inside the house.

If you have a house, an outside movement detector light can dissuade burglars, as can signs saying «Maison sous surveillance » or « Chien méchant» (house under surveillance and beware of the dog, respectively).

7. Prepare for the worst

Finally, the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir recommends you get a safe to put valuable items in.

It also suggests you take photos of your valuables to give to the police and your insurance company in case you are burgled.

Read your house and contents insurance carefully and ensure you meet all the criteria for protecting your belongings (security system, type of safe etc). The last thing you want to discover after being burgled is that your insurance is not valid!

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