Experienced criminals know how to get away with burglary. And they’re successful too: a home is burglarized every 15 seconds in the United States. The best way to fight back? Learn to think like a burglar and make your home a “hard target” they’ll steer clear of.
Easy In, Easy Out
Forget the movie image of the intrepid cat burglar who uses death-defying feats of agility to gain entry. The truth is that the average burglar is pretty lazy. He wants to enter your home the same way you do: through the door. Entering through an unlocked or open window is a little more difficult, but not by much. Remove the screen and climb in. Not much agility required!
Previously, the burglar had to get lucky and find a home where the resident forgot to lock the door or left a spare key in some obvious location.
But now, crime experts are increasingly concerned about the use of “bump keys” that criminals use to open many different locks with a single key. Burglars can purchase an entire set of bump keys for about $50 from online retailers. All the criminal has to do then is try a couple of keys and he’s in. Courteous burglars sometimes re-lock the door when they leave.
Let the Sun Shine In
The Decatur, GA police department released a YouTube video titled “Making Life Harder for the Bad Guys.” It features a “former burglar,” Stephen Howard, describing how thieves get away with burglary – and how he chose his victims:
“If a burglar can see into your house, he can see what he wants. You don’t want to give him a clear view of your assets. You don’t want to give him an open invitation.”
Open shades and curtains turn the inside of your house into a display window for burglars. It removes some of the uncertainty from the crime. “Hmmm… do these folks have anything worth stealing? Why yes!”
I’ll Be Watching You
Baseball legend Yogi Berra said, “You can learn a lot by watching.” He could have been a burglar.
One creepy part of Howard’s presentation was his description of how he’d case the homes of potential victims. He would stand back from a house or group of homes, usually hidden in the tree line for cover, and “just watch,” he said. Things he looked for included:
- Movement inside the home or backyard
- Presence of dogs
- Side doors or back doors
- Neighbors outside
- Alarm system
He was openly dismissive of Community Watch efforts because they only look at the front of a house. It’s much easier to go in through a side door, back door, or through the garage – any entrance that can’t be easily seen from the street.
Make the Burglar Work for It
If a thief is really determined to break in, don’t make it easy. Here are some easy ways to make your home less attractive to burglars:
- Keep the shrubs trimmed. Plants and shrubs should be at least 6 inches below window level. The thief won’t have cover while he works to open the window.
- Close the blinds so thieves can’t go window-shopping.
- Embrace your nosy neighbors. They’ll watch your property when you can’t. Let them know when you’ll be away so they’ll be alert to strangers on your property.
- Get a little dog. Burglars are more likely to avoid homes with little mutts. It’s the same reason some people don’t like “little yapping dogs:” they make a lot of noise and never stop barking.
- Hide valuables in unexpected places. Most thieves head straight for the bedroom to look for jewelry, guns, & other valuables that are easy to carry – and sell. Keep them in a safe or hide them in a more secure location.
- Be careful who you allow in your home. Be alert for common scams that could mean burglars are casing your house.
- Install more secure door and window locks. That little lock on your window is easy to pop off with a pry bar. Even doors with deadbolts are easy to kick in. This State Farm Insurance video lists ways to make your windows more secure:
These tips will help you keep burglars out, but if they get in, you need to know – immediately! Imagine the terror of waking up to find a burglar in your bedroom, going through your stuff.
GetSafe’s wireless home security system alerts you and our monitoring center when a burglar triggers an entry sensor or is caught by a motion detector. It’s a robust, portable alarm system that you can customize to fit your home and lifestyle. It even works with Nest. Learn more about how it works.