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Ruin a Burglar's Day

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Ruin a Burglar's Day - How to Protect Your Home from Burglary

You have the power to protect your home from a burglar by using common sense and understanding how a burglar may view your home as an easy target. I have conducted hundreds of first person interviews with burglars and thieves. Most burglars say the same thing. When asked why they targeted a particular home or business for burglary they replied, “Because it was easy”.

The bad guys are telling us that the homeowner or business made it easy for them to carry out their crime. As an investigator, the best way to understand crime is to listen to what the bad guys are telling us. Sometimes it’s what the burglar says and what they leave behind. Other times, it is analyzing the evidence left behind and the methods used to commit the actual burglary. This valuable information gives us clues to prevent and deter future break-ins.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. To classify an offense as a burglary, the use of force to gain entry need not have occurred. The UCR Program has three sub classifications for burglary: forcible entry, unlawful entry where no force is used, and attempted forcible entry.

Highlights from the 2010 FBI Crime Report (most recent statistics) for Burglary are:

  • Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 73.9 percent of all burglary offenses.
  • In 2010, there were an estimated 2,159,878 burglaries—a decrease of 2.0 percent when compared with 2009 data.
  • Burglaries increased 2.0 percent in 2010 compared to the 2001 estimate.
  • Burglary accounted for 23.8 percent of the estimated number of property crimes committed in 2010.
  • Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, 33.2 percent were unlawful entries (without force), and the remainder were forcible entry attempts.
  • Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property in 2010; overall, the average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,119.

Top 10 Tips to Prevent a Burglary

1. Landscaping

Burglar: Your overgrown vegetation makes it easy for me to conceal how and where I’ll break into your home. Also, your unkempt yard tells me that you may not be at home and have been away for some time.

Homeowner: Trim bushes and overgrown plants that may obstruct a ground level window or door. Performing routine maintenance of the premises indicates active home-ownership and occupancy of the home.

2. Vacation

Burglar: I know you’re not home when your mailbox is overflowing, and there are old newspapers or flyers in your driveway. Also, I noticed on your Facebook page that you are out of the country and having a great time vacationing in Europe.

Homeowner: Discontinue your delivery or ask your neighbor to collect your newspapers until you return from vacation. Ask the local post office to hold your mail until a specified date or have your neighbor collect it for you on a daily basis. Never post on any social media site that you are “on vacation” or “out of the country”.

3. Security Alarm System

Burglar: When I case a neighborhood, I look for homes that do not have a posted alarm company sign. Why would I target a home with a security system when there are easier homes to break into without a security system?

Homeowner: A home with a security system is a risky target for a burglar casing your neighbor. A burglar is usually deterred when he observes a posted security sign on the premises and typically decides to seek an easier target without a security system.

Note: A home security alarm system may qualify you for discounts on your homeowner’s insurance policy. Contact your insurance provider and determine if you qualify.

4. Motion Detector Lighting

Burglar: The darkness around your home conceals my movement and gives me time to break into your home.

Homeowner: Install motion detector lighting at strategic locations around the perimeter of your home. Motion activates these lights and gives the illusion that you are at home.

5. Interior Lighting/Timers

Burglar: When I case your neighborhood at night, I notice that there are never any lights on at your house. It makes me wonder if you are really home at all.

Homeowner: Always keep an assortment of lamps and lighting on when you are away from your home. Timers work best for lighting because they create the illusion that someone is at home. It doesn’t hurt to leave the television or radio on, too.

6. Door Locks/Deadbolts

Burglar: I can’t believe how many homeowners leave their doors unlocked. When I case a home, I’ll knock on the door to see if anyone answers. If someone answers the door, I just make up a story or ask for directions. If I hear a dog barking, I’ll leave and go to the next house. If no one answers the door, I’ll just turn the door knob to see if the door was left unlocked.

If the door is locked or dead bolted, I just give it give a hard kick and presto it’s open. Most homeowners believe that the deadbolt is securely installed into the frame of the door. However, the deadbolt is just secured with two flimsy screws that are easily forced opened with a hard kick to the door.

Homeowner: Install only top quality deadbolt locks on all of your exterior doors. Remove and replace the tiny screws that come with the deadbolt lock with 3 – 4 inch screws. The longer screws are able to reach the actual door frame and reinforce the door from break-ins. Also, your deadbolt lock is only as strong as the weakest leak. If your exterior door is flimsy or wood rotted, replace it with a steel reinforced door from your local hardware store.

7. Windows

Burglar: I like to target windows that are obstructed from view, usually at the rear or corner of the home. I can pop open your window with a putty knife by prying it between the window sashes and punching out the cheap window lock.

Homeowner: Reinforce your window security by installing sliding window locks, locking pins, or hinged wedge locks.

8. Garages

Burglar: Your open garage door tells me a lot about you and your belongings. When I see an empty garage (no vehicles), you’re telling me no one is at home. It’s easy to just walk into your empty garage and conceal my break-in by closing the door. When you leave your garage open, I can see all of your expensive lawn tools, lawn movers, and other items I can steal without actually breaking into your home.

Homeowner: Keep your garage door closed when leaving for work or just running errands.

9. Master Bedroom

Burglar: The master bedroom is the first place I look for valuables. I know that most homeowners keep cash, guns, and expensive jewelry in the master bedroom. Homeowners think they can hide their guns under their bed and their jewelry in the closet, but I know better.

Homeowner: Store your valuables in other rooms, safes, or off property e.g., safety deposit boxes.

10. Police Patrol

Burglar: I get paranoid when I see police patrolling a neighborhood. It’s just too risky and annoying when the cops are around. I’m afraid they might recognize me and pull me over.

Homeowner: When asked, most police departments will provide “zone patrols” or “safety patrols” of your home when you’re on vacation or away from your home for extended periods of time.


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