Tip of the Week: Inside the Mind of a Burglar – Steps to Keep You Safe
A Video, ‘Inside the Mind of a Thief | Burglar Confessions’, was released by the Allen, Texas Police Department. It’s an interview with a career burglar who spent over 20 years breaking into hundreds of homes and describes how he conducted his crimes.
The following list emerges from the interview with important crime prevention tips to keep you from becoming a victim:
1. Alarm signs promoting a wireless capability would be a total deterrence. Warning signs for dogs and alarm systems would make him take notice but he was confident in his abilities to bypass the standard wired alarm systems.
2. Establish a strong neighborhood watch. One thing he didn’t like was being obviously watched as he perused neighborhoods. In fact, he stated that there were certain neighborhoods that were known for their watch programs that he would totally bypass.
3. Put your alarm warning signs in the back yard facing an alley. He would cruise back alleys just to prevent himself from being seen out on the street and knew other burglars whose preference was to exclusively use back alleys to approach targets.
4. Have strong front and back doors that don’t have large windows in them. While knocking he would be scanning around inside the home for valuables, for signs of anyone being home or for dogs. If he could see a dog that kept barking at the door and then running back to somewhere else and then returning to repeat that sequence he would suspect that someone was home. He would also be looking for shadows and reflections to see if someone was there. Having lights on in the center of a room that helps with creating more shadow effects.
5. Keep a vehicle parked in your driveway. Make sure to use the car periodically so that it doesn’t appear to just sit there all the time.
6. If you are out of town put a hold on your newspaper or have a neighbor pick it up. Also, have someone put out and take back in your garbage at the normal times.
7. If on vacation during the summer months make sure that someone comes by to water the lawn. A nice well-maintained yard but with the dead grass screams “residents on vacation.”
8. Having lights put on timers and even on devices that produce sound such as radios is also good.
9. Don’t have your alarm box set up somewhere that can be observed from outside. A smartphone camera can be used to enlarge the alarm box to read the light sequences to tell if an alarm is armed or not.
10. Secure your sliding windows by putting sticks in them to prevent them from being jimmied and then slid open. Make sure that any dog or cat doors are not too large for someone with long arms to reach into and unlock doors or windows from the inside.
11. Mount cameras down low around eye level at your front door so that you can really capture a potential suspect’s face.
12. Answer your door when someone knocks on it. You don’t have to open the door but he suggests you go to a window with a phone in your ear and gesture to it so they think you are on the phone and can’t talk. It also suggests the person on the phone knows that someone is at your door.
13. Don’t leave windows open on the second story. A burglar can easily access second-floor windows or balcony doors.
14. Don’t leave credit cards or checks in obvious places. The first place he would go for is the master bedroom and go to the females’ side of the room looking for jewelry. He would check the other side looking for safes and watches. He would go to any obvious office spaces because people leave their checkbooks or credit cards there. He would at most spend 5 to 7 minutes in a home before leaving.
15. Use double-plated windows on the home exterior because when the outside window gets broken they make a very loud noise. In fact, he describes breaking one and that it was so loud it sounded like a gunshot which forced him to flee.
Hopefully, these tips that are straight from a burglar’s mouth will provoke some thoughts on how better to target harden your home. There is a lot of information available out there and a great first step is to go to your local police department website and see if there are any crime prevention services or suggestions posted.
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