Home burglars reveal the tricks of the trade


home burglary - thief looking in door window

How do home burglars choose a home to rob? What makes it easier or harder for them to break into a home? What can homeowners do to ensure their home is not a target? To learn the answers to these questions, Portland Oregon KGW TV’s investigative team sent letters to inmates currently serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections. Inmates were surveyed anonymously about how they broke in, when the crime occurred and what they were looking for. See: We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes

Here’s an eye-opening video as a KGW reporter rides around a neighborhood with a former home burglar who talks about how he cased homes and commit robberies.

The linked article above is also worth reading. When asked “What is the one thing homeowners can do to avoid being burglarized?”: “Burglars suggest homeowners make their property visible with good lighting and trimmed bushes and trees. You should get to know your neighbors and alert police if you see anything suspicious.”

  • “In my opinion, I think homeowners should always leave a TV or radio on,” said one inmate.
  • “Get a camera and make it visible!” wrote another.
  • “Put bars on your windows and doors, get an alarm, keep an extra car in the driveway, keep lights, TVs and radios on when you leave your home,” read one questionnaire.
  • “Home alarm, know your neighbor so they can report suspicious people around the neighborhood,” said a burglar.

More secrets from robbers

For another brief video and tips from burglars see How do you prevent a burglary? Convicted thieves tell all – KSL in Salt Lake City.

We previously featured a post on Burglar Secrets: Expert advice on how to protect your home.. While links to the original article we cited are no longer operational, we excerpted several tips in the post. Among them,  mistakes that burglars said people often make:

  • Bragging about valuables, new purchases
  • Leaving doors and windows unlocked or garage doors open
  • Failing to enable security systems
  • Leaving valuables visible through windows
  • Leaving valuable things like bikes and riding mowers laying about in the yard
  • Having uncovered windows that allow views into the home

Talk to your insurance agent

Your home insurance company might also have good information about keeping your home safe. And if you have home security systems, you may earn a discount on your insurance policy – talk this over with your independent insurance agent.

Two ways your garage door makes you vulnerable to burglaries


Garage Door Opener

Burglar garage door tactic #1: Thieves are often breaking into cars not to steal the car, but to steal the garage door opener. If thieves spot a garage door opener in your parked vehicle, they steal it, harvest your home address from the car registration or other identifying material in your glove compartment, and break into your garage while you are still out and about. And unless your garage is a free-standing unit, getting into the garage will offer easy access to your entire house.

The solution is simple – keep garage door opener on your key chain so you can take it with you in your purse or pocket when you exit the car.

Burglar garage door tactic #2: Most people feel pretty safe if they have their garage door closed, but in just a matter of seconds, experienced thieves can break in to your garage with a simple wire hanger by hooking the release valve. This short video shows how – it;s pretty scary — and the clip also offers a solution to deter this by using a cable tie.

You should test breaking the cable tie from the inside to be sure that the door could still be used as an emergency exit. Here are two alternate products that can help to secure your garage from Garage Shield.

Your garage is an entry point to your entire home – and as the article above notes, if burglars get in your garage and close the door, they have good cover for wreaking havoc. All too often, the door between the garage and the home is unlocked or insufficiently secure. Here are some ideas to increase your defenses: Top 10 Garage Door Security Tips to Prevent Break-Ins.

Burglar Secrets: Expert advice on how to protect your home


home-security

In response to a spate of home burglaries in Kansas City last year Mitch Weber, a reporter with NBC-affiliate 41 Action News, talked to police and sent questionnaires to prisoners who were serving time for burglary. He revealed burglar secrets as well as how homeowners can protect themselves from getting robbed.

Here are a few surprises. Most burglars said dogs in the home were rarely a deterrent. Some burglars simply fed or befriended the dogs. If you do have a dog, they are better in the yard and barking than in the home, where many are friendly or timid. Security systems and signs for security systems rarely stopped burglars either – systems were often not turned on or easy to disable. Plus, some burglars noted that police response time is rarely under 15 minutes, and most burglars could be in and out in that time.

What did stop burglars? Here are some surprisingly low tech, low cost things they suggested:

  • A human presence in or around the home
  • A light on; a light at entry ways; timed lights
  • Motion activated lights, high enough that they could not be disabled
  • A neighborhood watch
  • TVs or radios left on
  • A car in driveway
  • Covered windows
  • Siren alarms that would notify the neighborhood

The power of a human presence was cited by almost everyone interviewed. Some burglars would case a house to wait for occupants to leave. One burglar suggested that when someone is about to lock up the house to go off to work, “turn around and act like they are talking to someone in the house before the lock up.”

What mistakes did people make?

  • Bragging about valuables, new purchases
  • Leaving doors and windows unlocked or garage doors open
  • Failing to enable security systems
  • Leaving valuables visible through windows
  • Leaving valuable things like bikes and riding mowers laying about in the yard
  • Having uncovered windows that allow views into the home

Most burglars said they started in the master bedroom and also cased living rooms and kitchen counters. See our prior post about creative ways people try to hide valuables.

Some of these tips are no or low cost. It’s also important to have the right homeowners insurance to cover any potential losses. if you have any prized or valuable collections, make sure you tell your agent and talk over a rider to your homeowners policy to ensure they are covered should your security measures fail.