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Avoiding Becoming a Burglary Victim this Holiday Season

home safety

Lately, many articles have been published providing tips on avoiding becoming a burglary victim, especially this time of year. The home burglary tips came from an article 12News published last week and the vehicle burglary tips came from an article in the Sedona.biz published recently.


 Eighty-six burglars serving time in prison were interviewed, anonymously, about how they successfully broke into homes.

  1. How did you typically break into a home or apartment? Most inmates broke in through an unlocked door or window or kicked the door open. “I would kick in the door rather than break glass. Loud bangs are better than loud glass breaking, plus you run the risk of getting cut,” said one inmate.
  2. Once inside, what was the first thing you looked to steal? Burglars looked first for jewelry, electronics, cash and credit cards, plus collectibles and guns.

 “NRA sticker on car bumper = Lots of guns to steal,” wrote one burglar.

  1. Where did you look for hidden valuables? Most burglars started by searching the master bedroom for valuables, and then moved through the rest of the house. “Everywhere! From the stove and freezer, to the fish tank and toilet tank, book shelves and in boxes of cereal,” said an inmate.
  1. What time of the day did you prefer to break in? Burglars prefer breaking in early morning or afternoon.  “Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Anyone that was home for lunch should be gone by then and most kids should all still be in school,” wrote a convicted burglar.
  1. Did home protection or security signs posted outside the home deter you? Burglars had mixed opinions about home security signs. Some burglars said it didn’t faze them. Others said they knew how to disable alarms or avoid setting them off.
  1. Did pets in the home, like a dog, make you think twice? If a homeowner had a big, loud dog most burglars would stay away.  Smaller dogs don’t seem to bother them. “Dogs are a deal breaker for me,” said one inmate. “Big breeds, home protectors are the best to keep people out.”
  1. Did you typically knock on the front door before breaking into a home? Yes. All of the inmates who responded said they would knock on the front door before breaking in.
  1. If someone answered the door, what would you do or say? “Act like I was lost or looking for a friend.” “I would approach the resident as though they had posted an ad on Craigslist.” “Say wrong house, sorry and thank you.” “Ask if they’d seen my dog and leave.”

 “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.”

  1. If a home alarm system went off, what would you do? Most intruders said they would leave immediately if a security alarm went off.  “I would try and turn it off or get the hell out of there,” said one burglar.
  1. If there was a security camera visible, would it keep you from breaking in? Generally, burglars agreed security cameras were a deterrent. But some said it also likely signaled there were valuables inside the home.
  1. Did lights on in the home make you think twice? Responses were mixed regarding lights on in a home. Some said it was a deterrent. But one burglar said the combination of lights on and blinds closed created an attractive location. “Would drive through upper class neighborhoods looking for many things, like porch light on with all window blinds closed,” wrote one inmate.
  1. If you heard a radio or TV on inside the home, would you still break in? Most burglars feared someone might be home if they heard a radio or TV. They wouldn’t break in. “Absolutely not,” wrote a burglar.
  1. Would it make a difference if there was a vehicle in the driveway? As a homeowner, this is one of the best precautions you can take. Almost all of the burglars said they’d think twice if there was a car in the driveway. “Most of the time that is a sure-fire sign of someone being home,” wrote an inmate.
  1. What was your ideal target for a burglary? Burglars don’t want to be seen. They looked for homes with big fences and overgrown trees or bushes. “Home away from other homes, blind spots, older window frames, cheap wooden doors,” wrote a burglar. “Large trees, bushes or shrubs around the home, or very reserved and conservative neighbors,” wrote another inmate.

“Nice home with nice car = A person with money,” another said.

  1. Did you ever do surveillance on your target? The responses were mixed. Some burglars did surveillance before a burglary, while others did not.
  1. If you did surveillance, what were you trying to figure out? Of those burglars who did surveillance, most agreed they were looking for the best opportunity to break-in. “Who lives in the home, what are their weekday schedules (weekends are too unpredictable), what they drive, is there a dog, a hidden key,” wrote one inmate. “What time the house would be empty and for how long,” wrote another.
  1. What is the one thing homeowners can do to avoid being burglarized? 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. “In my opinion, I think homeowners should always leave a TV or radio on,” said one inmate. “Get a camera and make it visible!” wrote another. “Put bars on your windows and doors, get an alarm, keep an extra car in the driveway, keep lights, TVs and radios on when you leave your home,” read one questionnaire. “Home alarm, know your neighbor so they can report suspicious people around the neighborhood,” said a burglar.

The entire article can be viewed at: http://www.12news.com/news/we-asked-86-burglars-how-they-broke-into-homes/344369876


  1. Take, Lock, Hide. This is the basic crime fighting tool to prevent a vehicle burglary.
  3. Lock your vehicle. It seems so simple, but many people continue to believe their private driveway is somehow a ‘safe zone’ from criminals. Yes, it takes seconds to break a window, but doing so makes noise – and criminals hate making noise. Alarms can be a deterrent.
  4. Hide valuables from sight, or better yet, take items with you. If a criminal doesn’t see anything, they’re less likely to break in, and will go to the next vehicle and window shop. In the case of commercial areas, hide valuables BEFORE you park in the place you’re leaving your vehicle. If a criminal sees you put a laptop in the trunk, they’ll just break into the trunk when you leave. The same advice applies for putting property under a seat. If a criminal sees you reaching under a seat, they’ll assume something is under there, and break in, looking for property.
  5. Trailheads are a prime target for vehicle burglars as they know most hikers try to carry as little as possible with them. Therefore, there is a high probability that valuables remain inside the vehicle. They also have time on their side as hikers may be gone for several hours, leaving their vehicle unattended.
  6. Park in areas that are not secluded. Well-lit parking lots and driveways, with good “sight lines” make it more likely your vehicle is visible to the general public/neighbors. Attended parking lots, monitored by uniformed or easily identifiable legitimate parking attendants, are ideal. Remember, criminals don’t like witnesses.
  7. With aftermarket car stereos, consider models with removable faceplates and take the faceplate with you when you leave your vehicle.

  8. Record serial numbers of property you may leave inside your vehicle. If stolen, it makes it more likely the suspect will be identified if he tries to pawn the property.

The entire article can be viewed at: http://www.sedona.biz/arizona/yavapai-county/yavapai-county-sheriffs-office-ycso/auto-burglary-crime-spree-alert-verde-villages/

Adena Astrowsky is a prosecutor and author of Mother of Souls, The Story of a Holocaust Survivor. She recently received an Amazing Women award from the Phoenix Suns and National Bank of Arizona for her professional and philanthropic work. She lives in Scottsdale with her husband and three children.


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