In many communities burglary continues to be a problem. Here I will talk about the mindset of the average burglar, what they’re looking for, how they usually behave, as well as some simple things you can do to keep your home and family safe from them.
The average burglar seeks to avoid confrontation. That’s why they call the crime “burglary” and not “robbery”. Robbery requires force, like that used in a mugging or liquor store hold-up. A burglar’s goal is to get in and out quickly and unseen and to take with them enough valuables to make the time and risk worth it. Maximum profit for minimum work.
Most burglaries happen while a home is empty during the day. Very few burglars wish to encounter the residents while committing their crime. Those who do are particularly dangerous and most likely mean to do you harm. However that is the exception. Your average burglar is hoping to kick in a door or window, grab some valuables and be out in ten minutes or so without meeting any resistance.
Over half of break-ins happen through a back or side door or through a first floor window (again generally on the side or back of the house). Poorly defended front doors that can be kicked or quickly pried open account for about 30% of methods of entry.
Once inside the thief will usually head immediately to the master bedroom where they’re hoping to find cash, jewelry, high-end purses and clothes, electronics, and firearms. Again, they’re hoping to get in and out in about ten minutes so they’re unlikely to back a truck up and try to move large items out of your house. Your big screen TV? Probably not a target. A dresser drawer with cash, a diamond necklace, and a pistol? Jackpot.
So what can you do to protect yourself and defend your home from burglary? First of all you can Get A Dog, the oldest form of home defense. Any police officer will tell you that homes with big dogs are much much less likely to get hit than those without? Why? For a few reasons. Because burglars tend to be lazy, Because no one wants to get bit, and Because what’s so special about your house that’s worth the trouble? Nothing. Burglars will move on to a house without a dog.
If you can’t get a dog for whatever reason then get a couple of “Beware of Dog” signs and put them on your back gates. Combine this with an extra large size dog bowl that is left in the side yard within view of anyone peaking over your fence and you’ve got a believable ruse. Stop by your local novelty store and pick up an extra large size plastic dog poop replica and leave that within view and you’ve really got something that will convince a burglar that a big animal is protecting the property.
There are other things you can do as well such as making sure that all of your doors have solid deadbolts that are screwed all the way into the studs and not just into the doorframe. I happen to be a big fan of the bar-ricade, a rather inconspicuous steal bar that easily installs and makes most doors virtually “kick proof”. Install one of these on your side garage door (a common entry point) and most burglars will quickly become frustrated.
You can also do your best to make it appear that your home is not empty or at least not un-watched. Lights and televisions left on are an easy way to do this and having a nosy neighbor or two doesn’t hurt either. Installing an alarm system is perhaps the second best defense (a dog being the first). If your home is outfitted with an alarm system and clearly labeled as such with signs in the yard and stickers on the windows most burglars will move on to easier prey. Why? Again, because it’s just not worth the trouble.
If, despite all of your efforts, your home is broken into you can do your best to make sure the thieves don’t get away with much. Storing your valuables (especially firearms) in a bolted down safe is probably the best option. If that’s not possible or you don’t want to go through the expense then consider purchasing a much less expensive portable safe (complete with carry handle to make it ultra convenient for a thief!). Leaving one of these twenty dollar items by your bedside where it’s easily spotted may cut a burglary short. If I was a burglar who had just entered a home, was intent on getting out as quickly as possible and with the most valuables, I would probably grab this safe and call it a day. Of course you would leave this safe empty or merely filled with a book, a rock, and a few coins so it appears to be full to anyone shaking it. Your real valuables like cash and jewelry should be kept in the pockets of old jackets in a hall closet or hidden in a similar place that is rarely searched, never in a dresser drawer in the master bedroom. As for firearms, those should be secured at all times.