According to the National Police Agency’s 110 Hotline, Japan in 2012 had a total of 60,938 reported home burglaries involving thefts of money or other items. These are typically categorized as entry while the householder is away, while the householder is present (but in another part of the house) or those that take place at night while the householder is sleeping. The number of such crimes averages 166 break-ins per day.
What should people do to protect their prized possessions from predatory prowlers? Nikkan Gendai (Jan 17) asks the experts for some professional advice.
First to respond is Mika Kyoshi, a “bijin adobaizaa” (beauty adviser) who often appears on radio and television and in magazine articles. She’s also the author of several books, including “35 Rules for Self-Defense to Create Safer Living” (from a publisher called “Sweet Thick Omlette” [sic], 780 yen).
“The main point of entry for burglars, both in the case of single-unit houses and multi-unit dwellings, is from a window,” says Kyoshi. “They’ll thrust in a screwdriver between the frame and the glass or force entry using a crowbar or hammer. Others might use a high-temperature gas burner that will melt the glass.”
The next common point of entry is the front door. This might sound like a deterrent, but Kyoshi says for burglars front doors are a piece of cake.
“It’s widely known that they carry sets of picks that are inserted into the lock, or a special tool called a “thumb-turn rotator” that can flip open the thumb turn setting on the inner lock.
More recently, thieves have adopted a technique called “bumping.” This involves use of a bump key, which is similar to the master keys used by hotels or rental apartments. Unlike picks or thumb-turn rotators, the bump keys leave no scratches or other traces of tampering, leading police investigators to conclude that the violated householder simply forgot to properly lock his or her door.
According to Kyoshi, the key to discouraging a break-in is “to find ways to make the crooks expend more time trying to get in.”
“The National Police Agency found that in 70% of cases, burglars will give up if they can’t get inside a house within five minutes,” she relates. “To slow them down, doors should have two locks at a minimum. The most practical way to do this is to put a second lock on the door or window.
“Alarms, sensor-activated lights and stickers are effective, as are dummy cameras,” she adds. “They can be purchased inexpensively at hardware stores or ‘home centers.’”
Nikkan Gendai is convinced that for as small an outlay as 3,975 yen, you can acquire five items that will greatly work toward thwarting burglaries. First is a lock that can be fixed to the window sash that sells for as little as 105 yen; second is a thumb-turn prevention guard (546 yen); third is a sensor light that flashes when movement of a body is detected (1,980 yen); fourth is dummy camera (840 yen) and fifth is a sticker, posted in a prominent place, that reads “Bohan kamera sado-chuu” (security camera in operation). A set of three stickers sells for 504 yen.
“If you have an extra budget, you might want to spend a little more and go with an door interphone with a built-in camera, for around 18,000 yen, or changing your door lock to a type with a cylinder mechanism that’s been designed to thwart bumping, for around 18,000 yen,” Kyoshi also suggests.