I’m a Burglar — Here’s How to Outsmart Me
From the mouth of a burglar to your ears: Here are the vulnerabilities they look for when they're deciding whether to rob you blind.
Keep a Car Parked in Your Driveway
A burglar prefers to move in with the homeowner away. An investigative team at Portland, Ore. television station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they’d think twice if they saw a car in the driveway. Check out these other ways you can make it look like you’re home when you’re not.
Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked
Yes, this seems obvious, and yet a lot of people actually forget to lock their doors and windows. Most burglars KGW surveyed said they tended to “break in” simply by walking through an unlocked door or climbing through an unlocked window. Plus: Check out these genius ways to fake that you have a home security system to deter burglars.
Consider Making Your Door Kick-Proof
Some of the burglars surveyed by KGW said they’d be willing to kick in a locked door. It’s actually not difficult to kick in a door. However, you can make your door much more challenging by swapping out the faceplate on your door for one that uses three-inch stainless-steel screws — just one of our tips for reinforcing your door.
Don’t Ignore a Knock on the Door
Every burglar surveyed by KGW reports knocking on the front door before breaking into a home. If someone answers, the burglar makes up an excuse and moves on. You don’t have to open the door for the person, but definitely let the person know you’re home — you just might thwart a burglary.
Keep Your Radio or Television on While You’re at Work
Most burglars surveyed by KGW said they wouldn’t break into a home if they could hear a radio or see that the television was on. If you’re concerned about wasting electricity, consider setting a timer to turn on the radio or television during prime burgling time — find out what time of day burglars are most likely to break in.
Prune Those Shrubs
Burglars value their privacy while they’re breaking and entering. Theoretically, if every house on a particular block seemed empty, a burglar would still choose to target the house that offers the most privacy. To deter would-be burglars, keep the shrubs around your house well-trimmed.
Keep the Outside of Your Home Well Lit
Above all, burglars don’t want to be seen; they’ll be deterred by a well-lit property. Even when relatively certain that you’re at work or on vacation, a burglar would rather target a home that can be approached in the dark to avoid calling any attention to themselves. Here’s how to spot (and fix) 35 other things that make your home a target for burglars.
Rethink Your Regular Routine
Burglaries happen much more quickly than you might think. Cleveland Police Captain Keith Sulzer tells Cleveland.com that he often hears burglary victims say, “I was just gone for ten minutes.” If you keep to a regular routine and a burglar is watching your home, you can bet he or she will know when you leave and for how long — even if you’re just walking the dog.
If it’s not possible to change up your routine, be sure to make it look like someone is home when you leave, turning on the TV or radio — even if you plan to return in a jiffy.
Watch What You Say on Social Media
Over time, more and more burglars use social media to target potential victims. Don’t make it easier for them by announcing when your vacation begins or posting during your trip. Even if you’ve set your social media settings to “private,” the information you post can still get passed around to someone outside your social circle. Check out the 13 sneaky signs a burglar is watching your home.
Get an Alarm System
Not surprisingly, the sound of a home alarm system going off quickly deters most burglars, KGW found. However, some burglars said they follow a fast and efficient routine that allows them to get in and out in less than five minutes, giving them time to get away before police can respond.
Hide Your Valuables Where Burglars Won’t Look
A determined burglar will search everywhere for valuables, including the stove, the freezer, the toilet tank, even boxes of cereal. However, most of the burglars surveyed by KGW reported heading to the master bedroom first before going through the rest of the house. Their second favorite room to search for valuables was the living room.
Storing valuables elsewhere can help make a burglar’s job that much more difficult. For instance, you’ll probably want to avoid the 10 hiding places burglars check first for valuables.
Don’t assume your dog will deter a burglar
It’s worth noting that 70 percent of burglars surveyed by Fox 5 News in Atlanta said a dog wouldn’t deter them from targeting a home. And one of the burglars who spoke to NBC 4 New York said even a barking dog wouldn’t stand in his way. “Dollar Store Beggin’ Strips do wonders,” he said.
Up next, here are some inexpensive (yet effective!) DIY home security ideas.