Clever Tricks Used by Burglars and How You Can Stop Them

There are two basic types of burglars.

  • Spontaneous – meth-heads that will just break a window or kick your door in and get out quickly
  • Premeditated – those that will watch your habits and home and plan their next score

We’ll focus on the second type today and some of the tricks they may use to break into your home.

A Touch of Burglar Psychology

After all, many burglars are seasoned pros and certainly have access to plenty of information online on how to pick locks, cut wires, and deactivate cameras.

Some people sleep with a safe for guns and ammunition by their bed or locked somewhere in their room in order to protect themselves from such break ins – others simply keep a weapon, such as a baseball bat, close by their bed at night. While it might seem like a great idea to have a plan of self defense (and it definitely is important to always know how to protect yourself and your family), it’s also a great idea to learn how to keep people from intruding into your home in the first place.

After all, professional burglars have an arsenal of tricks up their sleeves that they like to use in order to get away fast without getting caught.  So you might be wondering: what exactly are some of these tricks, and how can you use the knowledge to better protect yourself and those you care about?

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the top tricks that burglars use, and how you can use that knowledge to keep you and your loved ones safe from break ins, and keep those intruders out of your home.  We’ll also talk a little bit about some precautions that you can take to help keep your home from appearing an easier target to those who might be scoping it out for an attempted burglary.

Taking the Easy Way In – Lock Your Doors and Windows

This might sound like common sense, but believe it or not, some homeowners skip out on this entirely.  That’s especially true for those who live in quiet neighborhoods where things are a little more laid back, tend to.

Many still even leave their doors and windows unlocked while they aren’t at home. It’s important to know that even in sleepy little towns, drug addicts looking to swipe some pills and cash can be responsible for as high of a crime rate as big cities.

Don’t believe me?  Just check out our burglary probability calculator.  It uses crime statistics and criminology research to estimate your risk of being a victim, taking into account where you live and your security posture.

With that being said, keep your doors locked at all times.  That’s especially true at night and when you leave the house. If you’re in a higher risk area, you may want to consider upgrading to an Abloy or Medeco lock that’s pick-resistant, tough to drill out, and hard to bump.  If you already have good locks on your front door, don’t neglect side doors and back doors, if applicable.  They can be attractive given they’re shielded from passing cars and neighbors.

Another note? If you have a front or back gate, be sure to keep it closed at all times.  It makes your place look well kept and like you are conscious of your security. All we need is for a would-be criminal to decide there are better targets than your home.

Better yet, add a recessed door sensor to your gate so that you know when someone is snooping around. Check out our article on making sensors hold up outdoors for more information.

Fido’s Friend – Most Burglars Don’t Fear Dogs

While many people believe that having a guard dog will keep them safe from intruders, that isn’t borne out by the facts. We’ve covered how effective dogs are for home security before in detail. So, I’ll just hit the high points here.

Studies involving convicted burglars have shown that many of them have their own tips and tricks for occupying dogs while they continue with their work. In fact, many burglars aren’t afraid of dogs at all. I’ve seen interviews with convicts making light of how easy it is to distract them, and how having a dog in the house doesn’t actually deter them from breaking in.

In fact, out of a study done by the I-Team of Channel 4 News in New York, who surveyed more than five hundred inmates who were currently serving time for burglaries in New York, they found that thirty-five percent of those inmates would still break in if there was a dog on the premises. Another thirty percent said that they might still consider it depending on other circumstances. If that isn’t scary enough, some of the inmates spoke of their tricks for handling dogs: cheap dog treats, such as knockoff brand Beggin’ Strips from the Dollar Store to occupy the dogs while they committed their theft.

What if that didn’t work?

Some admitted to using a treat stuffed with peanut butter, as peanut butter keeps them occupied while they grab the valuables. That’s why it’s so important to have a backup layer of security in addition to your dog. A DIY security system is a great way to get a notification as soon as something suspicious is detected at home.


Too Quick for the Cops – Alarm Systems

Alarm systems are popular these days, with more and more people investing in a total home security package. But do alarm systems actually deter potential burglars from breaking in?

In most cases, following along with the same New York study mentioned above, a shocking fifty-nine percent of inmates said that no, an alarm system would not deter them, with another thirty-five percent believing that they could break in and be long gone before the police even arrived.

That’s where a security camera and the pictures it captures can be a great asset in deterring criminals and even helping to convict them and recover your valuables after a crime has been committed.  Check out our guide to home surveillance cameras if you’d like to see how cheap and easy it can be to add security cameras to keep an eye on your home while you’re away.

Wearing Your Hat Indoors – Security Cameras

While that might seem really frightening, adding a surveillance or security camera to your home might actually work in your favor, according to the study. Thirty-seven percent of interviewed inmates have stated that if they saw a camera outside the home, they would not even attempt to break in. Of course, they can also be easily circumvented with a hoodie or a hat, so don’t have a false sense of security with one camera.

In other words, if you are going to sign up for an alarm system on your home, consider a few surveillance cameras to the package.  We have a great surveillance camera comparison guide to show you all of the features, costs, and specifications.

Since many burglars said that they would do their best to wear a mask or try to elude the camera, it might be in your best interest to place the cameras in less obvious positions so that they are not easily seen; inside a shrub, a porch light, or even a small area on the porch, such as inside a small, hollowed out piece of stone or other garden accessory. These cameras can give you a good shot of someone’s face for the cops while the cameras that are out in the open will serve as a deterrent before they break in.

Some Burglars Scope Out the Area in Advance

Believe it or not, some burglars have a trick that they like to use for homes that they are considering breaking into. It’s a simple trick, really, and allows them to really assess the people who live in the home, as well as see inside the house, even if it is only for a brief moment. They can tell what kinds of security systems are being used, if the family has a dog…a lot of things. So what is this trick?

They ring the doorbell.

Once you answer the door, they will often have an interesting story all ready to go – including lost pet stories, or maybe talking about a new fake business in town. While they are talking to you and sharing these stories, they are really getting a better idea of what type of home you have.

Once they get to scope things out a bit while talking to you, they can decide if your home is worth the effort. If there is an alarm system, they can see what kind it is, and figure out some flaws that can help them break in. They can tell if you have a dog, so they might want to decide to skip your home or use one of the strategies discussed above to pacify the dog. This allows them to be ahead of the game and plan out what they are going to do in terms of breaking in and stealing.

Lurking on Social Media

If you have public social media profiles, keep the advertising about your next vacation plans under wraps until you post the pictures when you get back. That way, you aren’t spreading an invitation to rummage through your house when you aren’t home.

What else can you do? For one, it is important to be alert when you answer the door. If you are home alone and you don’t know the person or feel comfortable opening the door to strangers, then don’t open the door. If you do decide to answer the door, keep an eye on the person you are talking to. If the person on the other side seems to be looking into your home, studying your home security system, or scoping out the door and the entryway into your home, you might want to keep an eye out.

And don’t hesitate to call the police to report suspicious behavior, especially if the person isn’t going door to door or talking to your neighbors. This is a good indication that he or she is scoping out your home for a crime later.


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