How Burglars Work

It is not a time I like to talk about and I want to yell from the rooftops…

Crime doesn’t pay!!

I am in my mid 50’s and when I was quite younger (18-20), I managed to land in a State prison for a few years.

While I was in for selling marijuana, I had also been involved in other criminal activity.

Burglary was one and I learned how to do it correctly… That is why I never was caught for that crime.

I also learned an ample amount of burglary tips from convicts. So to be honest, I was an expert burglar.

It isn’t something to be proud of, so I have decided to give potential burglary victims an education.

This will be done with a series of questions with my answers. There are also tips on non-burglary related crime too.

This is how burglars work…

These are in no certain order, so print them and keep them as a guide.

Please share it with your friends and family so they can have burglar awareness.

What do burglars typically do when a home security alarm goes off?

When I first started burglarizing homes years ago, an alarm of any kind would send shivers up my spine. I would want to run immediately, and I did a time or two. I then learned from talking to other criminals the system used by home security companies.

On average, it will take a security company or the police 20-30 minutes to respond to an alarm going off.

In most cases, the alarms that make noise in the home are just that: noise makers. Many of them do not send a signal to a company or the police. Silent alarms do. When it was a noisemaker, I would find the speaker causing the racket and I would disable it. From there I would work fast and would take the high dollar items that were easy to retrieve.

These alarm noises have become so typical that most people have become apathetic and will disregard them. If a burglar just acts as if they are not scared, most people will not suspect them.

What should people renovating their homes be vigilant about?

Perfect burglary?

When homes are getting renovation, burglars also see a great opportunity. We need to look at this situation in 2 parts.

  • Doing the renovation yourself.
  • A contractor with employees.

If you are doing renovation yourself, it is extremely important that you tighten up any possible entrance points to your home. If you are doing a roof and cannot get enough wood to cover a hole, it is wise to find a good way to “hide” that hole. If there is a way into a home, a burglar will use it. Do not leave electric cords strung through an unlocked door. I recommend putting yourself into the mind of a burglar. Do everything you can to keep the burglar out.

If you hired a contractor, always keep in mind that employees are not angels. Some are burglars or know burglars. Do not show them prized possessions. Have set hours they can work. Do not allow them to just come and go. Keep your eyes and ears open.

If you are always there at the job-site when they are working, they will also assume you will always be there when they are not working. It is good, if possible, to have someone at your home when construction workers are there.

Are seniors more vulnerable to burglaries?

Personally, I always believed that all people are equal when it came to burglary. I do also know that some burglars will intentionally target elderly. There are several reasons for that thought pattern.

First, if an older person would happen to catch you in the act, it is much easier to get away. In many cases, their eyesight and hearing are not as good which provides a burglar an advantage.

Next, retired people usually have collected and saved for a good part of their lives. They usually hold valuables that you will not find as often in younger people’s homes. In many cases, elderly people are a bit more trusting and will leave valuables unguarded. Many will not have safes, or it has been found they have safes and leave the door open, or even tape the combination on it.

Another prime reason for targeting elderly is medications. With the drug craze the way it is, drugs taken from the elderly can be sold for huge amounts of money.

I have to mention that as a retired person, please guard yourself even closer during those times of the months when Social Security checks arrive. Burglars and thieves make a point to victimize the elderly during these times the most.

Personally, I didn’t pick on just elderly. My Grandparents would come to mind too much to make that a habit, but keep in mind, many crooks do not hold any morals.

Is there a preferred vehicle used in burglaries?

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Yes there are certain vehicles that are preferred over others.

In a burglary, we wanted to be able to take as much as we could hold in the vehicle.

Like many movies and television programs, the common burglar likes to use a van.

Personally, I always liked using a box truck the best. It would help to make it look as if it was a moving truck. Now, it would always depend on the situation.

There were even those times when I would just use a motorcycle for a quick and easy get-a-way knowing I was going for just jewelry, coins, or little items that I could fit in my pockets or backpack.

To answer your question the best vehicle is the regular van. It was used in the majority of burglaries.

Do neighborhood watch signs make a difference regarding crime deterrence?

This can be a “loaded” question. My answer immediately is yes and no.neighborhoods

Neighborhood watch signs always put a huge caution signal throughout my senses. When these signs were starting to be used more and more, I would usually stay clear of those neighborhoods. I then discovered that they were getting put up in every neighborhood, but neighbors were really not watching.

Burglars started doing “test” runs. What I mean is, we would go into a neighborhood with some kind of items to sell. We would research how many people would study our movements from their windows or front porches. I would then go further and walk into some people’s yards to see if neighbors would question me, or call the cops. If people just let us go, we would plan the burglary for several days later.

In these, uniforms of cable, washer repair, plumber, etc… would be used. Now that I explained all of that, I would have to say that now days, neighborhood watch signs do not work.

Do burglars target people moving in to new homes?

To answer this question with one word, absolutely!

The biggest advantages of “hitting” people moving into a new home are:

  • The neighbors do not know their comings and goings as of yet. Even with neighborhood watch programs, the majority of volunteers just haven’t any idea who belongs at the home, and who doesn’t. This especially works when the family uses a moving company.
  • The people still have possessions in boxes, or setting out in the open. In many cases, much of the “good stuff” is sitting in a box in the garage. I distinctly remember a case such as this, when the people left their home safe sitting open in the garage. It was full of collector coins. I didn’t have to do a burglary for four months after that one.
  • The burglary doesn’t get reported immediately if the burglar closes everything up. The people don’t realize they lost until days, if not weeks later.

What should homeowners know about securing their lawn equipment (mowers, leaf blowers, etc.)?

The fact is: it is easy to sell a good mower or weed-eater. People can be quite lackadaisical with their lawn equipment.

Whenever you are using the equipment, it is wise to not leave it lying near the sidewalk or roadway.

Many thieves do it because of opportunity. Some would never steal if the object wasn’t put right there in front of them causing temptation. Personally, I never went after items such as those. They were cumbersome to load.

I do believe that with the drug culture the way it is, more and more thieves are looking for “easy” opportunities.

In my opinion, you should treat your lawn equipment the same way you do your other valuables. If you keep them in a shed, I would purchase the best lock made. It is also wise to put a motion sensitive light near the shed’s entrance.

Another great idea when you are not using your equipment is to take a long chain and loop it through all your lawn tools and lock it. By having them all hooked together, it would take 10 thieves working in tandem to heist them.

What do homeowner’s need to know about securing their garages?

Many people keep highly valuable items in their garages. These same people have alarm systems on their homes and leave their garages as an easy place to enter. In these days and times, burglars will go after anything that can make them easy money, and the garage is an easy source.

As some advice from an ex-burglar, I recommend locking your garage with the same intensity as you do your home. Many burglars will go after items in a garage as you are sitting in your home watching the television. I strongly recommend a motion detector light that lights up the whole garage if there is movement. It is also a great idea to put a simple noise alarm on garage doors and windows.

If I were trying to get into a garage and had light and noise, I would run and run until I was at least a mile away; empty handed at that.

What do homeowners need to know about securing their basements?

Thinking back to the life of crime that I once lived, the largest majority of burglaries I committed, entrance was made through the basement. Some people have there main doors and windows highly secure, but they just neglect the basement.
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Basement windows are one of the easiest entry locations. Just because you, the homeowner, do not think you could “crawl” through that small opening, don’t assume a burglar won’t. I personally went through openings that were so small that it had to just amaze the investigators.

I could just hear them saying, “Did Harry Houdini come back to life?”

I suggest installing highly secure basement windows and making sure your basement door is as secure as your main doors. If you are installing an alarm system, do not neglect the basement.

It is also very wise to secure the entry from the basement to the main house. Burglars are somewhat lazy, if it is difficult, we will move on to easier jobs.

Do burglars, as the saying goes, return to the scene of the crime?

You may have confused us burglars with arsonists. They are the ones who are well known for watching the fire they set.

Actually, criminals in general do like to see their handiwork.

I would have those occasions where I would want to see the reactions of the people or the police. I would go drop off my take and get another vehicle (usually my motorcycle). I would park in an area where I could watch the people arrive home and watch the fireworks when they discovered they lost so much. This would also give me more information on how the police would react. I would watch their gathering of information and possible evidence.

I must say that I only did this on some occasions when a “wild hair” told me to. I really loved doing it to the people that were very ignorant on how they kept their valuables.

Why, you ask?

Because you would see drama; better than some television shows. These couples would be screaming at each other about the ignorance of one or the other.

In one case, I had to do something that many burglars would have scolded me for. A woman was crying very uncontrollably about her Mother’s wedding ring. She claimed that she just couldn’t live knowing she had allowed it to be stolen. A soft spot inside me came to life, or maybe it was the weed I was smoking, but I put the ring in an envelope and mailed it to the address.

Yes, some criminals do have hearts too.

What does an estate sale mean to a burglar?

One of the deepest secrets in the world of burglary is about to come to light. It was such a guarded secret, that I probably would never have brought it out, but you just had to ask me.

I would always read newspapers and watch for advertisements telling of estate sales. In the majority of cases, an estate sale meant that no one was in the home. The person had probably died, and if there was a spouse, they may be in a retirement home, or with family.

In many cases, estate sales meant keys would be in easy-to-find locations for entry into the property. Most of the possessions would be separated and in boxes, or easy to carry out. The family or auctioneers had made it easy for the burglar to find the best items, and to carry them out. If the burglar could find out the auction company, it was easy to dress in a t-shirt that had that company’s name on it.

This would protect from “snoopy” neighbors.

The best part about burglarizing estate sale homes is: the burglary normally wouldn’t be noticed immediately. The report of a theft would come many days after the fact, and in some cases, not at all.

What should homeowners know about securing or hiding their electronics?

Electronic items are probably the most sought after burglary item. As a burglar, I would love to get a computer, televisions, stereos, and game systems. Another huge one these days are smart phones.

Some recommendations I would give is:

  • Televisions: There have been devices developed that you can put your television in and bolt it down to where you have it installed. The harder a burglar has to work to get something, the better chance they will just leave it. I suggest asking your local electronics store what they carry to bolt down our television.
  • Computers: Burglars love getting a persons computer system. First, you have the valuable computer, but you can also sometimes get loads of personal information on the computer owner. This information can be sold to identity thieves. I suggest having difficult passwords within your computers. It is recommended not to use everyday words, and have at least one capital letter and several numbers. If they do get your computer, at least they will not get in it. You should also bolt desktops down, and stash your laptops in a safe if you leave them at home when you are gone.
  • Stereos and Game Systems: There are also devices made to bolt these down too. It is also a great idea to keep all of these items out of plain view from windows and doors. If a burglar can see multiple electronic items as they are “peeking” in, they will try all the harder to get in your home.

The more deterrents you can put in front of a burglar, the better chance they will move on to the next home. Burglars are, for the most part, lazy by nature.

What concerns should people have, if any, about disposing of bills and utility statements? Are shredders really necessary?

When it comes to personal statements, the burglar will use these somewhat. Going through trash, we find the bills and a receipt for a recently purchased gun, jewelry item, or collectible, you can be sure, that home will become a priority for a burglary.

I did not use this system much, but other burglars would. The fact is, in these days and times, there is another criminal element that uses this information regularly. Stealing identities is a huge business. With the information you mentioned, these criminals can use the identity to take out major loans in the name of the person. Before you know it, your credit rating is terrible.

A paper shredder is a great investment. In areas where burning is legal, you can burn all those papers in a burn barrel, but always make sure that everything completely burns. Criminals will use any means to take what you have. We always had a premise that if you are stupid enough to leave yourself unprotected, we are smart enough to take it from you.

How have remote alarms impacted car theft over the past 20 years in your opinion?

Burnt car

First, I must say: the harder you make something, the more a criminal will want to “hack” it.

I believe remote car alarms are a great thing and have helped to stop some car thefts.

Like anything, you get what you pay for. Some alarm systems are cheaply made, which makes them easy to overcome. Personally, when buying a car alarm system, I will not “pinch pennies.”

Installation is also of great importance. If the alarm system is a great one, but was installed leaving wires that a car thief could easily cut, it really wouldn’t do any good.

It is important that you be wise where you leave your car. If your car is in a dark deserted place, a car thief could work at stealing it for as long as they need to. If you put it in a well-lit area, you cut down the odds.

Car thieves go after certain makes and models of vehicles more than others. There are many websites and other places where you can get those statistics. Before purchasing a new vehicle, it is smart to see if they are a make that car thieves target.

Remember, a car alarm does no good at all if you leave your keys in your vehicle, or leave it running. Many car thieves work on the “get it while running” mode. They will “hang out” at service stations or other prime locations where people assume they can leave the car running while they quickly run into the store.

When riding public transportation, what should commuters know about securing their belongings from thieves?

This is slightly off-topic from the burglary side of things. I personally never robbed people or was a “purse-snatcher,” but while I did my stint in prison, I met many others who were. Criminals do teach other criminals, so I believe I can offer some good advice around this.

Robbers look for certain things. They look for people wearing expensive watches, rings, necklaces, and other jewelry. I suggest taking the expensive items off and put them in a pocket until you arrive where you are going. I also suggest putting a billfold in your front pocket where it is much more difficult for a pickpocket.

The last piece of information that I must say here is: criminals have a way of reading if you may be carrying a lot of money or expensive items on you. How? It is how you carry yourself. If you are clutching your purse real tight; if you are always looking behind you; if you walk, talk, or act fearful, criminals can read this. They assume you are acting that way because you have something valuable. I have found that if you act like you have nothing, and are “care-free,” most criminals will look for a better subject.

I would also recommend that if using public transportation, try to just leave your highly valuable items at home. What sense is there in wearing a Rolex watch or a Diamond brooch and riding the subway or a bus?

Smarthome, Inc.


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