Honest people tend to visualize those with criminal intent as we see it on television or in the movies. We think we’ll be asleep in bed at 2:00 a.m. when a burglar breaks into our home through a window or by crashing a rear door. We’re going to wake up, secure our family, and call 911. The reality is, this scenario is highly unlikely. Breaking into a residence when its owners are home turns a burglary into a home invasion. In some states, home invasion is a Class X felony, punishable by life in prison.
While anything can happen at any time, home burglaries are more likely to occur during daylight hours when no one is home. When confronted by the sound of a homeowner, many burglars flee right back out the same way they came in.
Many people know the importance of situational awareness and the need to not flash valuable items when out and about in order to avoid attracting the attention of the criminal element. However, a fair number of these people fall into a false sense of security when they get home, and it’s there that many mistakes are made by those who are otherwise aware most of the day. Here are a few tips on keeping your home and valuables secure, even when you’re not there.
Common Methods and Tactics Used by Ruse-Entry Burglars
Ruse-entry burglars will walk right into your home if your front door is open. They look for people out working in their yard. If a screen door is unlocked and the front door is open, that’s a ripe target for these kinds of thieves. Best to keep your front door shut and locked on summer days when you’re out cutting the lawn. Also, close the overhead garage door (especially if it’s an attached garage leading into your home). Not only are you distracted when cutting the lawn in your front and back yards, your awareness is detracted by the noise of the lawnmower.
Ruse-entry burglars will walk into your unlocked home and proceed directly to your master bedroom. They will target your dresser tops (jewelry boxes full of valuables) and your top drawers (more jewelry, watches and cash). They’ll take your pillowcase in which to put your property. That way, they’re not carrying a sack when they enter your home. They will check kitchen drawers and china cabinets for checks, cash and other potentially valuable items. If they are confronted, they often pretend not to speak English and feign they are sorry but needed a drink of water.
Among dozens of scams, some ruse-entry burglars will ring your bell and say they are with a local utility company. Never let anyone inside your home without proper identification and know that most legitimate workers do not need to be inside your home. Close the door and say you will make a call and verify before letting anyone inside. Legitimate workers will wait and the fakes will take off. However, realize that ruse burglars are skilled at gently pushing and talking their way inside. They’re also experts at convincing you they need to turn on your kitchen water and that you need to watch to see if there is a change in pressure while they go in your basement to check the water tank. Of course, the rushing water in your kitchen sink masks their footsteps going upstairs to your bedroom and stealing everything they can find.
In addition to the water-department ruse, there is the “I’m your new neighbor and I need you to come outside and look at where I want to build a fence along your property” scam. A second accomplice sneaks inside your home while you’re distracted outside trying to figure out which one of your neighbors moved. Another common ploy is, “Can you look at this lost dog outside, I’m trying to return to its owner? Have you seen it in the neighborhood?” The scenarios are endless. If any of these swindlers arrive at your door, slam it shut and call the police. Then make sure someone didn’t enter your home somehow while you were at the front door.
If one of these ruse-entry burglars did happen to get into your home, what would they find? If your valuables are in a safe, do you keep it locked? Luckily, burglars tend to move quickly, so oftentimes, hiding your safe will keep it safe. Keep your valuables in a place unlikely to be searched by a burglar. The intent in these kinds of burglaries is to get out as rapidly as possible. Clocks, cereal boxes, cans of soup and other innocuous items can hide your small treasures in plain sight.
Burglar Alarms Are a Good Idea
A burglar alarm that immediately summons police without a delay is a great idea. While not all alarms stop intruders, alarms at least limit the time a burglar can spend inside your home before police arrive. With today’s modern cellular technology (no phone lines that can be cut), there’s no reason not to have one. As well, alarm-company stickers on a home’s front and rear doors really do cause intruders to move along to a softer target.
Most of us know to keep our heads up and not appear distracted or buried in our cell phone when out and about during our daily lives. We know that street robbers (strong armed or armed with a weapon) profile and look for easy victims. People with their heads on a swivel make the criminals think twice. Avoiding certain areas, not staying out late and not flashing valuables helps keep your target profile low.
When we enter our homes, however, we can be lulled into a false sense of security. Think about how you would target your own home from the outside and how you would search your house looking for things to take once inside. Then consider how and where you keep your valuables. With a little consideration and awareness, you can secure your belongings to keep them safe.
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