Chances are most of these “marking schemes used by burglars” are urban myth. Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity and most burglars want “easy in, easy out” so what puts them off, property left unoccupied or not, is decent security.
In fact this one doesn’t even seem to make much sense anyway - most French properties have shutters which 2nd home owners will lock when away. I’d have thought shutters closed 24/7 would be as much or more of a clue than sticking bits of wood in the gate (with the attendant risk of being caught doing same and asked to explain themselves). I’m also sure that if I were a burglar “casing a joint” for a high value theft that I would not want to do anything to arouse the owner’s suspicions, lest security be increased.
I’m also not clear who the advice is aimed at - if away we wouldn’t be there to observe the little bit of wood in any case.
TL; DR Not convinced and if you want to reduce the chance of theft good locks and closed shutters are more likely to be effective.
I see the point of this device…
Whilst many will close their shutters even when in residence (for various reasons) if they use the gate, it is a clearer indication that someone is in fact in residence.
I think the purpose of the advice is for neighbours to keep a lookout for the use of this to signal a possible attack on a vacant property.
It can’t hurt to have a neighbour look out for your property while you are away but:
It probably doesn’t work that well anyway - too many other reasons it might fall out even if property unoccupied. Walking past at dusk for a few nights and looking for lights on (even through shutters) is likely to be more reliable and arouse less suspicion.
Most burglars don’t plan and want to be in and out quickly. Even if the home owner is away neighbours might hear any disturbance so good locks and alarms do put them off.
Those that do plan won’t resort to bits of wood in your gate.
This is not to say don’t a) be careful and b) secure your property, but do apply your thinking cap to stuff that goes around t’ net.
Our neighbour came and slept in our house when we were aware.
She spent some of the daytime in her own home as well.
One other neighbour looked after the chickens and another took the dog for last walk as the neighbour sleeping in the house did not want to walk in the dark.
Some good neighbours egh!
We also have shutters on all our windows and we installed a roller shutter on our back sous-sol doors following eleven houses burgled in one night in the next village.
We also have videa surveillance, crunchy gravel and a dog.
Our local police say that if you tell them you are going away, they will keep an eye on your house for you.
“OK lads, police car’s gone, we’ve got the rest of the day to clean the place out!”
I think shutters closed, for months, are an invitation