True Crime Confessions: Former Burglars Share the Home Security Tactics That Scared Them Away

If you want to know what really works to keep your home and family safe from break-ins, who better to ask than an expert at breaking into homes? That’s right, a burglar!

We’ve gone straight to the source to help you maximize your home security. Keep reading for six tips from former criminals on how they chose their targets and what you can do to scare them away.

Burglars Prefer Vacant Houses

The majority of burglars hit houses between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when people are at school or work. Before they attempt to enter a house, they look for signs that someone is home. “I would check for cars in the street/drive/garage and watch for a short while for activity inside the house,” one former burglar confesses. “Also, I would watch for the flicker of a TV or computer screen, and as I got closer, I listen for noise from a radio or TV, or a person moving around.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Consider leaving the TV or radio on while you’re away from home.
  • Timed lights and motion-activated lights (which you should install as part of your security system) can trick potential burglars into thinking someone is home.

Burglars Prefer Houses Without Alarms

If you don’t already have an alarm system or security devices, like cameras and motion detectors, your house may be an attractive target for potential burglars. A survey of 400+ burglars found that 83 percent said they would try to detect if an alarm was present before breaking into a house and 60 percent said they would find another target if there was an on-site alarm.

Here’s what you should do:

Intruders Want to Get in and Out, Fast

When it comes to breaking into a house, time is of the essence. A thief wants to get in, score the goods like cash, jewelry, electronics and easily-pawnable items and make a break for it. If a burglar can’t get into your house within one minute, he will often move on to the next target.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Slow the burglar down and encourage them to give up and find another house:
  • Get stronger locks like deadbolts and smart locks to add to the time it takes to enter your home.
  • Add security laminate to your windows, making it harder for thieves to gain access by breaking the window. The retired cat known by the moniker “taw4” says, “A crook’s worst enemy is time, and the laminate takes up too much of that.”
  • Keep track of your keys! About one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key they had previously acquired to gain entry. Get a really good key hider rather than giving your keys out to friends and neighbors.

Burglars Want the Easy Way In

Having strong locks is one thing, but they can only help so much if you forget to use them. You and your family must be diligent about locking the doors when you leave your house. Most burglars like to operate without forced entry. More than 60 percent of thieves come in through unlocked doors and windows.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Create a routine so you regularly lock your doors and windows.

A Big Dog May Not Deter A Burglar

Some burglars avoid dogs, but others don’t. Turns out, some burglars fear little, yappy dogs more than bigger dogs. According to one former burglar:

“Let me give you the low-down on dogs: they aren’t protection or security. A dog can usually be easily usually. Act friendly, give it a few rubs, and they’ll happily follow you around. If that doesn’t work, after my first run-in with an annoying dog (a small, yappy dog), I started carrying rawhide sticks with me. That stopped them very fast. Also, on the topic of dogs, if you want a security dog, get a small, loud dog that barks at almost everything. Big dogs may look scary, but considering most people don’t like the chance of their dog turning on them, the dogs are either very tame, or chained up. Small dogs, however, bark–a lot. Those were the only ones I was ever worried about. Even then, as I said, a stick or two of rawhide and they were down for the count.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Install an alarm system (burglars can’t bribe alarm systems with treats!)

Thieves Look for Places to Hide

Contrary to what the movies suggest, many burglars break in during the middle of the day, when people are away at work. While you may want to decorate your lawn with flourishing foliage, when it comes to home safety, less is more. Criminals like targets where they have privacy; they’re more likely to choose a home with plants and shrubbery where they can hide from neighbors and onlookers:

“I tried to only hit houses with enclosed backyards. That beautiful wood fence you have up? Those lovely tall bushes? That ivy-covered fence? Congrats, you’ve just ensured that your neighbors will probably never see me.” -Former burglar

Here’s what you should do:

  • Make it easy for neighbors and passing cars to see anyone trying to break into your home. Add extra security to hidden doors and windows.
  • If a burglar thinks your house is secure (armed with strong locks and security devices), he will be less likely to try to break in.

Protect your home from the inside out and keep your loved ones and your valuables safe. If you have questions about home security or surveillance devices, contact us to speak with a home security expert!

David Artman

Author: David Artman

David Artman is the founder and CEO of The Home Security Superstore, an online provider that helps customers protect their homes and their families through its expansive selection of do-it-yourself home security systems and effective self-defense products. With years of marketing experience and an interest in the e-commerce industry, Artman founded the Atlanta-based company Velocity Products, Inc. in 2000, which now owns and operates The Home Security Superstore and ILoveNeon.com. A native of the Pittsburgh area, Artman graduated from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and has worked for well-known companies such as Bausch & Lomb, Andersen Products and Stradis Healthcare, which he co-founded and branded as Sterile Dental Systems Southeast in 1993.

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