21 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You
Is it a crime to spend money on a home security system these days? A look inside the mind of convicted burglars will help you decide.
I’ll look familiar
Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator. (Here are signs your house is vulnerable to being robbed.)
Don’t let me use your bathroom
Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.
Your yard gives us a lot of clues
Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have. By the way, this is the most common time for burgarlies–and it’s not at night.
We know when you’re away for a long time
Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.
Create tracks in the snow
If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. Here’s another way to avoid being an easy target for criminals.
Glass doors are our best friends
If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.
We target certain windows
A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too. While you’re at it, you should memorize these tricks to outsmart criminals, too.
We aren’t scared of a little rain
It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.
We try to come off as polite
I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.) (Here are some secrets a home security installer won’t tell you.)
We know you hide things in your drawers
Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet. Word of advice: Find better hiding places for your valuables.
We don’t want to deal with all of your kid toys
Here’s a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms. But if you own any of these cars, it’s pretty likely to get stolen.
Bolt down your safe
You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.
We don’t like TVs
A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at faketv.com.) Criminals aren’t just in your home, though–they’re also online. Here’s how you can protect yourself while surfing the web.
I won’t look like a burglar
Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.
It pays to have a dog
The two things I hate most: Loud dogs and nosy neighbors. (By the way, if you’re ever out at a restaurant or bar, here’s how to practically theft-proof your purse.)
I’m not afraid to break a window
I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.
Always set your alarm
Your alarm only works if it’s on. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it? (Your phone is an easy gateway for criminals to access your personal information, too. Here’s how to keep your phone and private information safe.)
Close your blinds
I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.
Don’t give updates on social media
Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page (and stay away from these posts, too, while you’re at it). It’s easier than you think to look up your address.
Close your windows when you’re not home
Lock your windows. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.
Remember to lock your door
If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in. (Speaking of crime, you won’t believe how unlucky these criminals were.)
Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.