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Home Home Security Blog Inside the Mind of a Burglar: How They Choose a Target

Inside the Mind of a Burglar: How They Choose a Target

January 31, 2018

Perhaps you know someone who has been the victim of multiple burglaries. You may be thinking that this is simply caused by incredibly bad luck, but the reality is quite different. Learning how criminals target their next victims is your first step toward protecting yourself from a similar fate.

The Empty House

When it comes to burglary, one common myth is that these crimes tend to happen at night. Think of all the scary movies you have seen that feature the criminal creeping into a home under cover of darkness. In fact, burglars prefer going about their business when it is most likely that the resident will not be at home, and for most of us that is during the day when we are at work. Some crooks spend a day or two in advance of the crime checking to be sure that no one is in the house at the time they plan to go in; others just knock on the door to be sure that no one is home.

Leaving Clues

When you leave your property unattended for a few days or weeks, it becomes more vulnerable to an attack from a burglar, particularly if you inadvertently provide obvious clues that you’re not around. These include letting your newspapers pile up on your porch and leaving your lawn uncut as well as failing to stop mail delivery. 

If possible, enlist the help of a neighbor to take care of any letters or deliveries that arrive, and hire someone to maintain your landscaping. Put some lights on a timer to make it look like someone is home, and consider asking friends to park their cars in your driveway.

Ready Access

It seems obvious, but one of the easiest and most effective preventative measures you can take to guard against burglary is to ensure that all of your doors and windows are locked. No burglar wants to spend precious minutes gaining entrance into a home through a secured window when the unlocked house next door is there for the taking. 

As a homeowner, deterrence can be one of your best friends when it comes to protecting your property. Regularly and routinely check to be sure that all windows and entrances are locked. Purchase dead bolts for all exterior doors that go at least one and a half inches into the door frame as these provide a small but significant added bit of security.

Equally important is your garage door. Many criminals have seen an open garage door and quickly dashed in to steal valuable equipment and tools. What’s more, many garages lead directly to the home through an often unlocked door. One way you can protect yourself from the inevitability of forgetting to close your garage door is to purchase an easy-to-install, battery-operated device that is equipped with an adjustable timer that will close the door in the set number of minutes.

Lots of Locks

You might think that piling lock after lock on your doors would deter someone with thievery on their mind. However, your over-zealousness can sometimes have the opposite effect. The burglar might turn out to be even more motivated to separate you from your possessions if it seems that you have a lot to protect. Why else would you have spent so much money and effort on locking it up?

The High Traffic Area

The neighborhood where you live can have a huge impact on your chances of being a burglary victim. You are more likely to become a statistic, for example, if you live in a high-crime or high-drug area, if a lot of young people live in your neighborhood or if strangers typically come into the area because it contains a shopping or transit center.

Rural Area

You might think that most of these crimes occur in crime-ridden cities. However, isolated rural places can actually feature as many or more incidences of burglary. That’s because many homeowners who live away from big cities may be less vigilant about protecting their possessions, believing that they are not as vulnerable. In addition, farmers and other so-called country people often have expensive equipment that can be quite attractive to a would-be burglar.

Easily Accessible Back Yard

No criminal wants to be seen by your neighbors while attempting to enter your home. For that reason, they will tend to choose the least visible entry point. For many of us, that’s our back yard, particularly if it is not fenced in and is quite accessible.

Attractive Target

Burglary is a dangerous business punishable by long prison sentences. For that reason, criminals are highly motivated to make it worth their while. In addition to wanting entry and exit to be fast and easy, robbers are looking for the maximum amount of bang for their buck. In other words, they will be more likely to target you if your property looks extravagantly wealthy or if you have a lot of valuable items within easy reach. 

Therefore, it is in your best interest to minimize temptation by removing the possessions you believe would be most sought after by criminals from plain sight. These include laptops, large screen televisions and jewelry. For items that you particularly value but do not use often, consider putting them in a bank safe deposit box. If you drive a luxury car, park it in a garage or away from view from the street.

Your Hired Help Might Not Be Too Helpful

Whether you have a nanny, a housekeeper or a gardener, you have committed a great deal of trust to this person. In most cases, you can expect to have a mutually fulfilling relationship with your domestic employees. However, some unscrupulous people can use the inside information they know about you to their own ends. For that reason, it is vital that you do all you can to pre-screen domestic workers thoroughly. Whenever possible, obtain references from people you trust, and ensure that your workers are bonded and ensured.

You Live Alone

If you reside by yourself or don’t have children, you are more likely to be the victim of burglary. Statistics show that the higher the number of people who live in a home, the less likely it is to be a target of robbery.

Your Not-So-Cool Window Air Conditioning Unit

If you have an older home or live in an apartment, you may be cooling it with a window unit. By far, the easiest way for someone to enter your home is by kicking in this portable appliance. While no one likes to be stifled during the warmest days of summer, you need to carefully consider whether having a window AC is worth the risk. If possible, install central air conditioning instead.

You Know Someone With Sticky Fingers

The sad truth is that many criminals tend to prey first upon the people they know the best. After all, someone close to you can often be aware of your vulnerabilities and the weaknesses of your property. What’s more, you may make them aware that you are going to be away from your home at a particular time. If they are linked to you via social media, they can easily read your posts, ascertain that you are sunning yourself on a beach hundreds of miles away and utilize this knowledge to rob you. They may even have a copy of your house key or know the passwords to your security alarm systems. 

The precarious economy as well as increased incidences of drug addiction can transform even people you would ordinarily trust into potential thieves. That’s why it is important that you are very careful about whom you trust with information about your plans and whereabouts. The temptation to share all of the juicy details about your trip may be overwhelming, but try to wait until you get back to your home to do it.

Lack of Visibility

Because criminals don’t want to be caught in the act, they tend to choose properties that are as removed from public view as possible. For instance, you might be more vulnerable if your home is on the outskirts of a neighborhood, on a corner or with neighbors on only one side. In addition, your chances of being burglarized increase if you have trees or architectural features that conceal your home from view or if your property is poorly lit.

In addition, people with bad intentions like to choose targets that are within easy access of a quick getaway such as a major thoroughfare. While you probably won’t be physically moving your remotely located home to a more central site anytime soon, you certainly can and should safeguard it with adequate lighting, good locks and security alarm systems.

You Don’t Have an Alarm System

Many people hesitate to invest in a security system. They mistakenly believe that these mechanisms are too expensive, require a long-term contract or are difficult to install. The reality is that you have a wide variety of choices when it comes to home security. There are home security companies like ours that offer a comprehensive selection of wireless, install-it-yourself systems that can meet the needs of virtually any property owner. Once you have this automated safeguard up and running, you are less likely to be burglarized. The fact is that most criminals will run as soon as they hear the piercing sound of an alarm.

You Have Been Burglarized Before

People who have been victims of home robberies are more likely to experience this trauma again. For one thing, the person who robbed them may make a repeat visit a few months later. After all, they already know the lay of the land as well as how to gain entry. 

In addition, homeowners may be unaware of the many precautions they could take to lower their likelihood of being victimized. If your neighbors have been robbed, your chances of being a victim also rise.

Simple Steps You Can Take

Reducing your chances of becoming a burglary statistic doesn’t have to involve spending thousands of dollars. Here are a few small but significant steps you can take today to protect yourself:

• Get a dog. If you have been wanting one anyway, be aware that the presence of a barking canine can be a major crime deterrent.
• Trim the landscaping around your doors and windows to make it harder for criminals to figure out how to get in.
• Get rid of your pet door. A burglar could send a child through it to unlock your house.
• If you have valuables that you want to protect, buy a heavy, fireproof safe that you can bolt to the floor.

Burglaries happen every day, and sometimes they can’t be avoided no matter how scrupulous you are. However, taking steps to maintain the illusion of occupancy and protecting your property with lighting, good locks and a strong security system can go a long way toward ensuring that your valuables remain right where they belong: in your own possession.


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