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Burglaries have always been a thing. There’s no going around it – a burglary happens every 15 seconds in the States! In 2019, the total estimated loss related to burglaries was $3.0 billion, with an average of $2,661 per offense. Luckily, there are identifiable trends that can help us protect our property.
The effects of interdiction on drug use mean that fewer amateurs are attempting to enter and rob homes. These perpetrators are unpredictable, and often potentially dangerous; a shift in these trends means that we have more “pros” looking at our homes, with a certain methodology – which can make taking precautionary measures a bit easier.
Residential targets have proven to be an easier hit than commercial ones: the homeowners usually have a schedule they stick with, and these schedules are much easier to identify than those of, let’s say, a bustling warehouse. If you suspect your street (or house) is being cased for a potential burglary, there is a serious chance you’re right. Let’s have a look at some clues that are clear signs of being targeted.
The usual suspects
Even though it’s highly unlikely you’ll have Keyser Soze roaming around, there are some usual suspects that should raise an eyebrow. Be on the lookout for joggers you don’t know, or persistent by-walkers; a good hint is checking out their attire – sportspeople dress in sports clothes, usually of bright colors.
Keep an eye out for folks taking photos of the neighborhood, or even particular houses. Bear in mind – you don’t need a camera for high-quality photos nowadays: a phone, or a drone, will do an even better job in some cases.
Another thing burglars like to do when casing targets is posing as a door-to-door salesman, handyman, etc. Beware of letting people inside your house (e.g. to have a glass of water while running, or to use the toilet), or having extended conversations that allow them to have a good look inside.
A vehicle can provide cover for a person who wants to see but doesn’t want to be seen. It’s an excellent way to study people’s daily schedules and to see which homes are empty at the moment.
Vehicles such as these are going to be driving by with no apparent regularity, or get parked for a prolonged period, sometimes with the driver sitting inside. Beware of out-of-state plates, or no plates at all – if your gut tells you there’s something going on, make a note of the plate number, the make, and the model of the car, maybe even the driver. Talk around the neighborhood: targeting takes time, during which some of your neighbors might have also noticed an unfamiliar vehicle.
Another way to rob a place with no fuss is to pose as a moving company – burglars will identify an empty home, park a U-haul on the driveway and simply load the valuables. This can’t happen if you have good neighbors, so make an effort to establish some sort of connection with the folks living in your street.
The clues around your home
There are clues around your house that are signs your home is being looked at. These include missing or rummaged trash (always tear up your bills – identity theft is also a thing, and bills provide info), a broken window (throwing a stone shows the alarm settings), strange stickers of flyers on your fence and in your mailbox (one part of the “team” leaving clues for the “operations” department), even strange-looking chalk marks!
If you have outside lighting, that’s a big step towards improved home security. However, make sure these don’t have a strict schedule and monitor the bulbs – an unscrewed light bulb is also a sign someone is testing out who’s home and who’s watching.
Another red flag is random things that start happening for no reason, like your doormat being flipped upside down, or a golf ball sitting on your lawn – even your fuel tank suddenly being emptier than you remember!
Read more: Burglar bars for windows
Making their job easier?
Another big question to ask yourself is – are you making the burglar’s job easier?
A pile of mail, newspapers on the lawn (and an unmowed lawn and shrubs while we’re at it) is a huge welcome sign signaling no one’s home. A consistent daily schedule, with easily identifiable no-one-at-home times, is another one that spells “easy target”, and neighbors can help with both of these!
However, not having a surveillance system in place, and no outside lighting, is just plain irresponsible. As more than 70% of burglaries include front or back doors, or ground floor windows, not having surveillance is like inviting suspects in. Make sure your cameras cover all the angles around your home and make sure they are visible (but not easily vandalized). Investing time in setting up home security pays off big time!
Going with your gut
Going with your gut sometimes gets underrated. A splash of common sense can go a long way: don’t hesitate to close the door on people, be extremely picky about who you let in, and don’t shy away from contacting the authorities. There’s a fine line there, but try to be on the safe side rather than be sorry later on.
Make sure you notice people’s body language and behavior. Little or no eye contact can spell the difference between a person with bad intentions and a causal walker/jogger. Crossing the street instead of saying hello is another possible sign that the person is up to no good. Talk to the people next door, set up a neighborhood watch program, and share experiences and information. It’s much harder for robbers to hit a community than it is to hit an individual home!
When it comes to keeping your home safe, you should not be fussing around: anything you can do to make the burglars’ job more challenging is a step in the right direction.
Luckily, today your options are almost endless – from old-school methods such as the folks next door to high-end surveillance systems using AI to keep suspects away, there are options available for any type of property and user.
Bank loans and insurance claims will rely heavily on the data related to home security. Layering up on both your security and surveillance is the best way to keep as safe as possible. Numbers can be merciless at times, but you need to take every possible step not to be a part of the statistics.
Read more: Ways to ensure better front door security