What Does a Burglar Look Like?

Burglar enters house

Even if you live in a “nice neighborhood” it’s natural to be concerned about burglars. Crime of one sort or another is always the main topic of the local TV news. Plus, a large portion of the movies and TV shows produced are based on either crime or the justice system. It’s natural to be wary of burglars, but would you know a burglar if you saw one? Here’s some information to help you recognize a burglar and prevent a break-in.

Common Characteristics
Your average burglar is generally non-violent, unemployed or retired and a repeat offender. He probably works alone, lives not too far away and may just be doing it for the thrill. He also selects his targets ahead of time, including visiting his victim.

Clothing
Despite what you have seen in old movies and cartoons, burglars don’t always need a shave, wear black masks, striped shirts and caps. That would make them pretty noticeable to the general population! Instead, burglars try to blend in. A burglar in your neighborhood might:

  • Dress in khakis and a polo shirt and carry a clipboard like he’s taking a survey.
  • Wear coveralls and carry a rake so it appears he’s part of a local lawn service
  • Dress in general work clothes and carry fliers that offer gutter cleaning services.

Suspicious Behavior
Burglars don’t randomly pick a target; they case your neighborhood ahead of time and then choose a house to hit. If you know which suspicious behavior to look for, it’s possible to spot the thief when he makes his first visit to your home or neighborhood. Suspicious behavior could include:

  • One or two people going door to door in the neighborhood, especially if they seem to pay way too much attention to homes where no one answers the door, or if one person goes around back while the other remains in front.
  • Someone knocking on your front door, and then asking you for directions.
  • A stranger entering a neighbor’s home from the side or back door, including forced entry.

What Do Burglars Look For
Not surprisingly, burglars don’t want to work any harder than they have to. Since burglars have so many easy targets to choose from, this usually means they don’t have to work too hard at all. Best case scenario, burglars are looking for homes that:

  • Are far from the nearest neighbor.
  • Don’t have a security system, especially video surveillance.
  • Have curtains left open to show off the big screen TV and other expensive belongings.
  • Are not well lit outside, especially near the entryway.
  • Don’t have a dog, especially a big, bark-y one.

Deterring a Burglar
So what should you do to deter these thieves from targeting your home?

  • Lock your doors and windows securely every time you leave the house, no matter what.
  • After workmen or delivery personnel have been in your home, check that all your doors and windows are closed and locked just as you left them. (If not, contact the police.)
  • Make sure your children put away their bicycles, scooters and other outdoor toys after each use. Burglars can judge the family’s worth based on the value and amount of toys left in the yard.
  • Get an alarm system, preferably one with video surveillance. A repeat offender does not want anything to do with a home with video cameras. He won’t risk being caught on video while robbing your home.
  • Include a glass break sensor with your alarm. Thieves are not afraid to break a window in order to get into a house.
  • Remember to set your home security system each time you leave the house. There’s no point in having a security system if you never arm it.
  • Check that your alarm system keypad can’t be seen by someone standing outside your home, especially if you have glass around your front door. Burglars like to look through front windows to see if the alarm is armed or not.
  • Leave the radio or TV on during the day. Even if a burglar thinks no one is home, he won’t risk it if he hears the music or sees the flicker of the TV.
  • Get a dog that barks at intruders loudly.
  • If you’re going on vacation, ask a trust-worthy neighbor to pick up your mail, as well as your newspapers, circulars and door hangers. In the winter, arrange for someone to shovel your driveway and front walk so it looks like you have been coming and going. In summer, ask a neighbor to mow your yard once each week while you are away.
  • While on vacation (or even just away overnight) don’t post to Facebook until you get home.

Where do Burglars Look?
Burglars know what they are doing. Just because your spouse or kids can’t find your secret spot does not mean you’ll fool a burglar for a minute. You should never hide your valuables in your dresser drawer, night stand or medicine cabinet. A safe is good, but only if it’s bolted down! Actually, one of the best places to stash your valuables is in the children’s bedrooms. Most thieves don’t bother checking the kid’s rooms because parents rarely put anything of value there.

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