5 Most Common Burglar Strategies


Imagine a burglar, and you probably picture a man in a black turtleneck with a pencil mustache beneath his ski mask, rappelling down from a skylight, while wearing a tool belt laden with all the highest-tech gizmos.

Now stop flattering yourself. The burglar who wants to break into your house has no such equipment or pizzazz: He just wants to smash and grab. Here are some common burglar strategies.

SEE ALSO: Why You’re a Target For a Facebook Robbery

1. Pick the Easiest House To Rob

Burglars operate in one of two ways. Either the burglary is totally random, or the burglar has scoped out the neighborhood in advance. Whichever the case, the burglar chooses your house because it looks easy to rob.

Thus, appearances are crucial to deterring burglars. Burglars, like anyone else, make their decisions on a risk-reward basis. If you make your house look tough to rob, the burglar will pass you over for another house.

  • Security stickers are a good deterrent, although burglars themselves recommend using generic stickers. Their logic? “Protected by ADT” just means “Oh good, I know how to disable an ADT system.”
  • Make your house appear not worth robbing: Park the fancy car in the garage, don’t keep the box from a new LCD TV out on the curb and close your blinds.
  • Put up a Beware of Dog sign.

2. Avoid Attracting Attention

Because burglars want to get in and out as quick as possible, they will do everything they can to avoid attracting attention. Fight this by making your house bright and noisy.

  • Install a motion-sensor light.
  • Get a dog: Even a small, yappy fellow will do the job of drawing unwanted attention to the burglar.
  • Make it hard for the burglar to conceal himself while breaking in: Privacy fences and hedges are a security weakness.

3. Choose An Empty House

In accordance with those first two, burglars will case your house for when you are away or asleep. If newspapers are piled up in your driveway and the lights are out, you might as well invite the burglar inside.

  • Use a good, old-fashioned appliance timer switch, or make things even less predictable by investing in a timer switch more programmable and random.
  • Halt newspaper delivery when you are out of town—or just cancel it, because it’s 2012.

4. Bust Out The Air Conditioner

Air conditioning window units are prime targets for burglars, because they require that the window remain propped open. The thieves will work the unit loose and pull it out.

Fortunately, you can take steps towards securing this point of entry.

  • Install an air conditioner bracket on the outside of the unit: It screws in to the window and the unit, stabilizing it and making the unit harder to move.
  • Attach a sliding-window lock along the side frame of this window, as well.
  • Screw the plastic vent flaps directly to the window frame—these are the weakest point of the whole operation if you don’t.

SEE ALSO: Nest: Leading Home Automation

5. Walk Through A Door, Climb Through A Window

Lock your doors and latch your windows. Every exterior door should have a deadbolt and every window at least one latch. Also consider using sliding window locks on ground-floor windows, and use a dowel to secure sliding glass doors.

The most basic smash-and-grab targets are doors with windows right near the knob. If you have one of these, consider installing window film.

Even the best cat burglars have said that 90 percent of the time, they use gloves and a screwdriver over high-tech equipment. Walk around your house and think about where you would get in if you were a burglar. Whatever can be most easily pried open, unhinged, or wiggled loose will be the weak link in the proverbial chain.

Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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