CCTV: The Mind of a Criminal


Research conducted by Co-op Insurance and Co-op Home Insurance reveals that CCTV is the number one deterrent for both home burglaries and car break-ins. The findings went on to highlight the importance of some simple measures that homeowners could take to keep their property more secure and reduce their chances of being burgled.

In this feature, we take a closer look at the views of ex-criminals on the subject of protecting your home and deterring thieves.

Top Deterrents for Criminals

The aforementioned studies were run in 2017 with a panel of 12 former convicts and focused on both home and vehicle break-ins; additional data was also collected from 2,000 UK adults by Opinion Matters.

The panel of ex-criminals were asked to list the top deterrents that a property or vehicle owner could employ to lower their risk of becoming a victim of these kinds of crimes.

CCTV cameras topped both lists as being the most effective to deter home and car thieves:

Order of Effectiveness Home Thief Deterrents Car Thief Deterrents
1 CCTV Camera CCTV Street Camera
2 Barking Dog Car Alarm
3 Strong, Heavy Doors Street Lighting
4 TV, which is turned on Car Parked on a Drive
5 Locked uPVC Windows Newer Car
6 Cars Parked on Driveway Steering Lock Device
7 Overlooked Property Older Car
8 Surrounding Fences Neighbourhood Watch Area
9 Gates Outside of Property Car Parked on a Dark Alley
10 Motion Activated Lights Immobiliser

Image via Flickr.


Despite CCTV being chosen as the most effective deterrent for burglars and car thieves, the latest figures used for this report suggest that just 14% of homeowners have a CCTV system installed at their property.

As well as being an important way to deter criminals from targeting your home, CCTV can also provide valuable evidence that can help identify and convict offenders.


Lighting has long been shown to be an effective aid to home security and it is no surprise that both street lighting and motion activated lights were both on the top ten deterrents to home and car thieves.

Statistics used in the report suggest that only around one in four homes (24%) have automatic security lights installed.

Perimeter Protection

The evidence from the panel suggests that properties that have good perimeter defences such as gates and fences plus strong heavy doors are less likely to be targeted by would-be burglars.

Additional perimeter protection is also afforded by having your home overlooked by neighbouring properties.

Whilst the location and position of your home cannot be changed in this respect, you can increase this kind of visibility using CCTV specifically trained to monitor the perimeter of your property.

use cctv to protect your home
Image via Wikimedia.

Connected Security

Homes and cars that employ the use of smart technology and offer connected and/or monitored security are significantly more likely to deter criminals.

According to the report, 89% of ex-criminals would avoid breaking in to a home that is protected in this way with 67% of the panellists saying they would avoid targeting a connected vehicle.

The reason for this is simple; thieves are usually opportunists (see below) who are looking for the easiest target. The choice of a home (or car) that is comprehensively covered by modern security technology is more likely to be passed over in favour of one that isn’t.

You can find out more about connected home security systems, here.

What Do Burglars Want?

The panel were  also asked what kind of things were being sought most in a break-in with the following results listed in order of importance:

  • Cash
  • Jewellery
  • Electrical equipment
  • Car keys

Sadly, criminals are all too familiar with the fact that few of us employ the correct techniques and devices to help deter burglars from trying to gain entry to our homes with almost three out of four people taking no precautions whatsoever.

Former ex-con turned Journalist, Noel Smith, responded to the publication of the Co-op’s findings with this statement:

“As a former criminal, I know all the tricks homeowners use to keep their homes safe, that’s why I find it shocking that the Co-op’s research reveals 28% of us don’t take any precautions whatsoever. Luckily there are some very simple steps everyone can take to make our homes more secure and keep our valuables safe”

Opportunism vs Planned Burglaries

The Co-op’s report found that nearly half of their panel said that most burglaries were the work of opportunists, criminals who wandered the streets looking for an easy target, rather than a result of pre-planned targeting.

The take-home for this is to ensure that home and vehicle owners take proactive measures to keep their property secure and to remain vigilant by not leaving an open invitation to criminals.

Here is some useful advice on protecting your home based on the findings of this report.

Social Media

Around 20% of those adults polled in the accompanying survey revealed that they actively shared pictures of themselves enjoying a holiday on social media.

 dont post photos on social media when on holiday burglars
Image via Pixabay.

Opinion on this matter is divided with some proponents of the most popular platforms suggesting that, with the right privacy settings, this should not pose a threat.

However, the advice from the police and GetSafeOnline is clear; sharing your holiday photos online whilst you are abroad is effectively advertising an open invitation to criminals to target your home.

“Don’t post your holiday dates – or family photos while you are away – as social networking sites are a favourite research tool for the modern burglar.”

Source: GetSafeOnline

It is also becoming increasingly common for home insurance companies to reject claims made by homeowners following a break-in if they were found to be doing so. The clause under which they can legally do this is the requirement that policyholders take ‘reasonable care’ to protect their homes.


Install external security lighting in your home and ensure that your vehicle is parked somewhere that is well-lit.

When popping out, turning on the TV could act as a good deterrent to indicate that your home is not unoccupied.


Always park your car on your driveway; this doesn’t only mean your vehicle is at less risk of being broken into but can also help deter thieves from breaking in to your home.

If you are going away, you could ask a neighbour to use your driveway for any second vehicles they own.

Image via Pixabay.

Windows & Doors

Findings from the Co-op suggest that more than half (55%) of adults in the UK sleep with their windows open whilst around one in four (24%) leave their doors unlocked whilst they are at home.

Open windows and unlocked doors are an invitation for burglars looking for an easy target. Simply ensuring that these are kept closed and locked can significantly decrease the interest in your home to an opportunistic criminal.


Having a car alarm and immobiliser were also important factors in deterring car thieves with home security alarms coming in at 13th.

Just as with a dog that can alert people to a break-in, car and house alarms are also an effective way to draw attention to a crime in progress.

Man’s Best Friend

It is no surprise that burglars do not want to attract any attention to their activities and the sound of a barking dog was the second most effective deterrent for house thieves.

We don’t expect homeowners to replace a security system with a dog but if you have been putting off a decision to get one, this might be a deciding factor.

Image via Pixabay.

Connect 4 CCTV

Connect 4 CCTV is a supplier and installer of advanced, reliable and easy to use home CCTV security systems. We offer a comprehensive and professional nationwide service to provide homeowners with the most effective deterrents to home burglary.

We know exactly how important the safety and security of your home is and we take our responsibility to keep it that way very seriously.

If you would like to know more about how Connect 4 CCTV can help protect your home, contact us today on 0344 324 6020.


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