The best advice on a certain topic comes from the professionals in that field. This holds true for burglars, even though their “profession” is hardly admirable. Many ex-burglars have offered tips on selecting targets and the most effective deterrents.
In September 2012, we posted an article with 13 secrets that burglars won’t tell you. The tips covered everything from how burglars scoped out targets to the first rooms in a home they visit. The advice from this post garnered so much attention that it was voted one of FrontPoint’s Best of 2012 blog posts by readers.
Since it was so popular, we’re revisiting the topic.
In July, ABC’s 20/20 aired ‘Confessions of a Burglar’, a first-hand look at how a burglar operates. Chris Patterson, a convicted burglar, went on the record with his strategy for choosing a target and breaking in, as well as providing these valuable tips to viewers:
1 – A security system is worth it, especially one with security cameras. However, it’s only worth it if you use it. Patterson managed to rob plenty of homes because homeowners didn’t arm their system. If you own a security system, don’t forget to use it.
2 – For burglars, a Beware of Dog Sign is an automatic no-no. An actual dog isn’t even required; the mere presence of the sign is enough to deter some burglars.
3 – Large trees and bushes make a burglar’s job easier. The same privacy that homeowners seek with large trees and shrubs will aid a burglar. No one is able to see the burglar peering in or climbing through a window.
4 – Burglars look for a full mailbox. A full mailbox or a pile of newspapers is a giveaway that the home may be empty or has been empty for a few a days. If you’re heading out of town, either stop your mail and paper or make arrangements for someone to pick it up daily.
5 – Avoid announcing time away from your home on social media. Patterson mentioned it was one of the hottest trends for burglars. A quick glance at someone’s profile for an announcement about a vacation or a night out is a great way to see if a home will be occupied.
6 – Window air conditioning units are easily removed. No matter how you screw or bolt them in, they can be pushed in with little effort, according to Patterson.
7 – Do not leave any home repair equipment, especially ladders, lying around. When doing any yard or house work, store the equipment as soon as you’re finished. Ladders can be used to reach the upper windows that usually have less security.
8 – Know your neighbors. Since most people do not know their neighbors, Patterson would walk up and knock on the front door. Many burglars use this tactic to easily see if somebody is home. Also, Patterson would leave through the front door since most people don’t notice as long as he acted like he belonged. Knowing your neighbors and your neighbors knowing you can aid in identifying suspicious activity.
9 – Burglars will go for the master bedroom first because the valuables are almost always stored in the master bedroom. These items will usually be in an easily noticeable box. Store your valuables in a boring box and in an unlikely spot such as a kid’s room. Most burglars will avoid kid’s rooms because it’s not worth the time.
10 – Don’t leave cords and chargers attached to electronics. Burglars are looking to sell electronics as fast as possible. Without a power cord or a charger, valuable electronics become essentially worthless.
11 – Do not confront a burglar. Burglars are just as scared of confrontation as you, but they are unpredictable. Do not risk your health or family’s safety for items, they’re replaceable.
In the video, Patterson did not check for a home security system before entering the home – something burglars will almost always do. He knew it was a 20/20 staffer’s home and may have just overlooked it, but it’s an important oversight. Remember, the first tip was home alarm systems are worth it.
Not all home alarm systems are equal though; a wireless security system with cellular monitoring is superior to a wired system in any situation. Burglars will often cut the lines that wired security systems use, rendering them useless. Wireless alarm systems have no lines, and with cellular monitoring, they’re virtually undefeatable.
Monitored alarm systems also offer features outside of protecting against burglars: environmental monitoring, remote access to the system, mobile apps, home automation, and security camera services, to name a few. Patterson’s first tip was correct, security systems are worth it, but in more ways than you may have thought.
While similar to our post in 2012, Patterson’s tips highlighted the differences from burglar to burglar. Most notably, last year it was suggested that a loud TV or radio was a better deterrent than a security system. Patterson did not mention this. No two burglars are the same, but the advice that’s being offered provides valuable insight into their thoughts. There’s no better advice on how to protect your home than from those that know how to break into it.
What do you think? Do you have any tips to ensure that your home and belongings are safe from burglars? Leave them in the comments below.