Before you can truly develop a comprehensive home break-in prevention strategy, you need to arm yourself with the right information. Ask yourself, “how do burglars break into a house?”
We can tell you.
What do most burglaries have in common?
Contrary to what we see on TV, most burglaries occur during the daytime, between 10 AM and 3 PM. This window presents an opportunity when kids will be at school and people are at work. The average burglar wants to break-in when no one is home. It’s also easier to avoid any curious onlookers during daytime hours when errands or jobs leave neighboring homes empty.
In addition, burglars are not masterminds. We love a good action movie as much as anyone. But contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, most burglars are not scheming elaborate plans with a team of experienced criminals.
In truth, the majority of home break-ins are the result of opportunity. Most burglars don’t want to go to crazy lengths to get into your home. They target easy points of entry, where they are most likely to go unnoticed.
These are the most common points of entry for home break-ins:
Front door: 34% of burglars twist the doorknob and walk right in.
First-floor windows: 23% use a first-floor open window to break into your home.
Back door: 22% come in through the back door.
Garage doors: 9% gain entrance through the garage.
Basement: 4% choose the basement as a point of entry.
Unlocked areas, sheds, and storage: Another 6% will simply try for any opening that isn’t locked down,
Second-floor window: A daring 2% will go for the second-story window.
Safeguarding these areas of your home will significantly reduce your chances of a home break-in.
What’s in a burglar’s toolkit?
Have you ever wondered what tools of the trade look like for a burglar?
It helps to know which areas are targets, but how do burglars actually get into your home?
Okay, so an unlocked door may not be a tool in a burglar’s toolkit, but it certainly is a burglar’s best friend. Burglars frequently will try your door simply to see if they give way without additional effort. In many cases, break-ins result from forgetting to engage the deadbolt lock (A smart lock could help you combat any forgetfulness).
Additionally, an unlocked door lessens the worry for the burglar. Your neighbor is unlikely to try to stop someone who waltzes right into your home like he owns the place. After all, your burglar could just be a dog sitter or someone watering your houseplants.
This may conjure visions of Halloween or childhood dress-up, but it’s a little less playful when used by a burglar. Dressing the part makes approaching a home a little easier to explain. One burglar preferred the use of a disguise, saying “Sometimes I would wear nice clothing and print a questionnaire off the Internet and carry a clipboard and see if they could spare a moment for an anonymous survey.”
Assuming the persona of a “typical” new face, such as a salesman or delivery person is also a common trick, making it easier for burglars to explain away their presence.
Crowbars are handy tools for a home break-in. Home invaders can easily conceal one beneath clothing and these tools can be used to quickly pry open a door or smash a window, making it a go-to for the home break-in toolkit
Ladders or discarded tools already on the property
It’s not uncommon to see construction in residential areas. From roof repair to street construction and just basic handyman services, it’s fairly typical to see new people coming and going when fixes are needed. In these cases, burglars may pick up a ladder or grab a hammer, assuming the personality of a worker on the job, then use those items for nefarious means.
A survey of 86 burglars revealed that home invaders typically don’t like dogs. One way to thwart the loud barking of a pup is by having dog treats on hand. A savvy burglar may line his pockets with dog treats to quiet your pup in a pinch.
Which homes do burglars target?
There are some homes that burglars view as an easy score, while others pass by without a second glance. Knowing where you fall on that list is a helpful piece of information to have if you want to avoid a home break-in. So, which homes do burglars target? Let’s investigate.
Burglars look for signs of emptiness when they are surveying homes. Often, residents leave clues that give them away. For example, burglars take note of:
Trash cans left outside: This can signal an empty home on a tidy street. If you plan to travel during trash pickup, enlist a neighbor to bring yours in while you’re away.
The pileup of mail: When we set out on vacation, mail can pile up quickly and burglars take note. Request a hold on your mail during travel or have a trusted neighbor gather it for you each day.
Packages left unclaimed: Lonely packages left on a porch can be a red flag to any passersby that no one is home. (Beware, you could also become a victim of package theft. Avoid ordering any items until you are certain you can be home for retrieval.
Untidy lawns and overgrown shrubbery: Letting your grass grow high can be an indicator that no one is home to mow. Hire a lawn company or grab a neighborhood kid to get the job done when you’re away.
Broken fences and homes in disrepair: Homes that are falling into disrepair signal one of two things to a would-be burglar—either the home is uninhabited or the neglect extends to other areas of the home (i.e. rotting window casings or unsecured doorways), making them prime targets for a home break-in.
Social media posts: Yes, we all love those beach selfies or panoramic mountain scenes we encounter on vacation, but the modern burglar can check social media with the best of us and they know when you aren’t home. Try waiting until you return home to share all of your snapshots.
Homes without security features: Did you know that homes without a security system are three times as likely to be broken into? Many burglars will scout for alarm systems and opt out if those features are present.
In addition to these red flags, some homes are at a higher risk of home break-ins than others. If your home meets any of the following criteria, burglars may be targeting you.
Homes located in areas of low visibility: Whether shrouded by trees or situated in an area of low lighting, decreased visibility is enticing to burglars who want to avoid being detected during a home break-in. A report by KGW8 found that, “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.”
Houses that sit in the middle of the street or in a cul-de-sac: According to Reader’s Digest, houses in the center of a street or in a cul-de-sac, especially those situated in front of a forest, offer a better chance of a clean getaway.
Residences near alleyways: Homes near alleyways are attractive because the narrow streets make for an easy escape.
Detached houses: Homes with detached garages are also enticing. These present an opportunity for an easy score and usually come with the added bonus of a quiet alley getaway.
If your home falls into any of these categories, you may want to take extra measures to avoid a home break-in.
How you can protect yourself from break-ins
As opportunists, burglars want to make a quick score during a home break-in and be gone before anyone ever knows he was there. In fact, when asked how homeowners can help prevent burglary, here is some advice offered by past offenders:
“Get a camera and make it visible!”
Get a “home alarm, know your neighbor so they can report suspicious people around the neighborhood.”
Regardless of which entry a burglar chooses or which point of entry is targeted, a monitored home security system from ADT will help you keep your home safe. A comprehensive security system can help safeguard your doors, windows, and storage spaces, all while providing surveillance of your property. Combined with other prevention strategies, you can help ensure that you and your family are protected.