9 burglary tactics and how they can help you prevent home invasions

September 16, 2013

Steve Niketopoulos, founder of the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Watch, spoke to MySecuritySign a few weeks ago about working with his own and other neighborhood watch groups. In his efforts to educate his neighbors on community safety, he attended a meeting at Chicago’s 12th District police station during which five convicted burglars from the Safer Foundation Adult Transition Center divulged some of the tips and tricks of their former trade.

Being aware of common burglary tactics can help potential victims ward off burglars’ attentions. Here is a rundown of some of Steve’s most useful findings from that two-hour meeting, and what you can do to protect your home.

How they do it:

burglary tactics

Burglars will try all of the windows, even those on upper floors or the one above the kitchen sink. From Eastlake Times.

  • Google Maps. With this tool burglars can case the neighborhood and note the locations of doors and fences. Burglars also case neighborhoods in cars and on bikes and may even call police while in the neighborhood to test their response time.
  • They go through the windows. One of the meeting attendees said, “If you have one window open in your house, I am going to find that window.” Not even second story windows are off limits.
  • It only takes about five to ten minutes to break in and take something so burglars are not deterred by alarm systems. Alarms can also be cut by the more savvy burglars.
  • Dogs are not a deterrent either. Most can be easily distracted by food.
  • Open purses and wallets are their main targets. From there, burglars will check out kitchen drawers and cabinets, bedroom closets, coat pockets, nightstands and dressers. Checkbooks — they’ll slip a blank check from the middle of the stack — tend to be in the kitchen, and they’ll find jewelry in the bedrooms.
  • When you leave your shades open at night, they can see everything they need to. Burglars will look into houses at night with the windows open and the lights on to determine who is home what they can easily take, and how to get in and out quickly.
  • Hiding in plain sight can be an effective strategy. Some burglars dress like inspectors or handymen, complete with an official-looking clipboard, so when you see them in the neighborhood you’ll be less suspicious.
  • There are lots of ways to find out if you’re home. Burglars will watch to see if your newspaper is picked up or even leave flyers themselves to see how long it takes someone to remove them. Some burglars have even looked through trash to find personal details or gone on social media to look for vacation announcements.
  • If they did it once, they’ll try to do it again. Burglars will strike the same neighborhood and even the same house more than once.

What you can do:

  • Get to know your neighbors. The best defense against home invasion is knowing your neighbors. Burglars were less likely to hit houses in neighborhoods where people were on their porches or where they felt people looked out their windows.
  • Invest in a dome-shaped security camera. The other cameras can be easily covered up or pushed aside, but burglars actually view the dome-shaped cameras as deterrents.
  • Close your windows. They’ll even push in AC units or window fans to gain entry. Some burglars slip in through windows when people are home, so be sure to close them in unattended rooms. Keep the shades drawn at night and when you’re not home.
  • Be wary of strangers. If you live in an apartment, avoid buzzing in anyone you don’t know and aren’t expecting.
burglary tactics

Dome-shaped security cameras can deter burglars. From Nayu Kim.

  • Don’t help them out. Leaving ladders nearby could help burglars reach second story windows. Similarly, while high fences and hedges can be great for preventing neighbors from seeing into your yard, be aware that they’re also great for preventing neighbors from seeing burglars in your yard or home once they’ve made it past the fence.
  • Hide your valuables in either a safe bolted to the floor (they can just leave with it otherwise), or somewhere a burglar is less likely to look, such as inside vents, inside children’s toys, a slit inside a mattress, or somewhere cluttered in the basement.
  • When you go away, have a friend pick up any mail (such as your newspaper or fliers) that may be left outside your house. You may also consider asking the post office to hold your mail, as burglars are not above looking in your mailbox while your neighbors aren’t looking. If it snows while you’re away, have someone come by your house to to leave tire tracks in the driveway and, in the fall, sweep away fallen leaves.
  • Make it look like you’re at home even when you’re out. There are devices that mimic the flickering of a TV and apps that let you control your lights remotely through your smartphone. If it looks like someone is home, burglars are likely to just move on to the next house.


Category: Neighborhood Watch, Surveillance

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