How to protect your apartment from burglars

The good news is that the number of burglaries in Germany is decreasing - and around half of all burglary attempts fail. Unfortunately, that means around 50% succeed and you could be in the unlucky half. Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your belongings from burglars.

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Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…

With 3,739 burglaries in 2018 in Berlin alone, there’s a chance that the bad boys (or girls – burglary should be an equal opportunity activity) might come for you.

So, what can you do to protect your home?

While patrolling your flat in khakis and warpaint while wielding a baseball bat is always fun (erm, too much information…), there are a few more practical things you could be doing. First and foremost, it may sound obvious but - sadly, there are a lot of stupid people out there - always, always lock your front door and make sure your windows are closed when you go out. And yes, a tilted window is still an open window.

If you’ve got a bit of cash, you can set up electronic burglary protection, which mainly consists of alarm systems that report attempted burglaries directly to the police or trigger an alarm. In this wonderful age of technology, they can also be connected to a smartphone, so you always know what’s happening in and around your flat. Even if you’re not being burgled, you can still use it to monitor the comings and goings of your hot neighbour – not creepy at all. Some home assistants like Alexa have a feature that detects break ins based on, for example, noises, built in. Here’s how to set it up.

If you’re worried about losing your key, leave a spare with a friend who doesn’t get out much. Do not hide it under the rather obvious plant pot outside your door. And while you may be “super excited” about your upcoming, exotic holiday to Rügen, where you can fight over Strandkörbe with far more practiced German adversaries, try to save your jealousy-arousing Instagram posts for when you get back. Announcing you’re going away all over social media is pretty much an invitation to burgle you.

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Uh oh, I announced I was going away all over social media and now my flat has been burgled…

(Eye roll) Well, OK, hopefully you’ve learned a valuable lesson. Don’t worry, all is not lost. Are the burglars still in your flat? Grab your baseball bat and warpaint… just kidding. Get out of there. Now. Head over to the friend who doesn’t get out much, or anywhere that isn’t your flat, and call the police. Describe the situation to them in detail and don’t go back to your apartment until they give you the all-clear.

This is where your photo-taking skills will actually come in handy (although these ones you probably won’t want to share on Instagram).

  1. Photograph everything that the burglars have changed in the house or apartment.
  2. Have cupboards been rummaged through? Things thrown around? Are there footprints on the carpet?
  3. Photograph any damage caused by the break-in.
  4. Make a list of everything that has been stolen, with the value of the items if possible, and hand it in to the police.
  5. Cancel any stolen bank cards, etc.

What do I need to give my insurance company?

Oh goody, you have an insurance company. Well done. They will reimburse the costs of any stolen goods and any damage caused to your flat as long as you have Hausratversicherung. They’ll even put you up somewhere else for a couple of days if your lock is broken or if you don’t feel safe at home. Just describe how those (human) Rats broke into your Haus and make a note of your contact person and claim number. Send your photos to them (no selfies of how tragic you look) along with the list of stolen property, ideally with receipts or invoices. If you don’t have any, statements from friends or family that you owned the items are also acceptable. 

My home contents insurance took care of everything but I’m still soooooo mad!

This, unfortunately, comes with the territory. Knowing that a total stranger has been through all your private things with their sticky fingers is a truly icky feeling. It’s only natural that you may not feel entirely comfortable in your own surroundings (or feel murderous) for a while and asking for help to cope with these feelings is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, Luko will even cover the costs of the “necessary psychological support due to a claim”. 

Chances are the police aren’t going to catch the burglars – only around 10% of cases are ever solved – so if you feel the temptation to pick up that bat and turn vigilante, maybe pick up your phone and call and your shrink instead.