Security and Safety

7 Unexpected Ways Burglars Get Into Your Home

By Peter Simek 8.2.21

There are few worse feelings than returning to your home and discovering that someone has broken in. The potential damage and loss of valuables and money is bad enough, but burglaries also produce a disturbing feeling of violation and vulnerability. Your home no longer feels like a sanctuary protected from unknown threats of the outside world.

There are many preventative actions one can take to avoid being burglarized, some of which are quite simple and effective. For example, a survey of burglars in prison found that potential victims are often saved by the mere presence of a dog or a television or radio that has been left on.

The first step to protecting your house against theft is to know how burglars get in and how they target their victims’ homes. In that same survey, researchers found that there are a few common traits burglars look for when choosing targets. Knowing what makes your house look vulnerable will help you take steps to ensure that you never have to experience the sinking feeling of coming home to find your home burglarized.

Here are seven unexpected ways burglars can gain entry to your home:

1. Straight Through the Window … or Door

In 2017, an Oregonian news outlet surveyed 86 inmates serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections. One of the questions asked: How do you get into homes? The most common answer was unlocked doors and windows. Burglars are opportunistic; they want to commit their crimes as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many simply look for homes to target that offer easy ways in, like a first-floor window that is left unlocked or a side door a homeowner may have forgotten to lock.

2. In the Early Afternoon

The threat of a home invasion may conjure scary images of masked men sneaking through your windows in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. The truth is most burglars like to enter homes at times in which the owners are unlikely to be home. That, generally, is between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. when kids are still in school and parents are at work or running errands. Next time you run out to do a quick afternoon errand, remember to lock your doors and set the alarm.

3. With Crowbars … or Doggie Treats

Just like in old cartoons, many burglars carry crowbars, which can be easily concealed in a long jacket sleeve and prove quick and efficient for prying open locked doors and windows. But another tool of the trade is dog treats. While some burglars in the Oregon survey said that a large dog was enough to scare them off a potential target home, some said they carry treats so that if they encounter a dog, they can make quick friends by sharing some food.

4. As an Unassuming Salesperson

Most burglars want to make sure the houses they target are empty before they attempt to break in. They may spend time casing a neighborhood and watching cars in driveways to determine when residents are most likely to be out. Some have admitted to dressing up like salespeople and carrying a clipboard. They then knock on the front door of potential targets to see if anyone is home. If someone does come to the door, they pretend to be going door to door conducting a survey of homeowners. Little do the unassuming homeowners know that answering the door may have saved them from becoming victims of a crime of opportunity.

5. Through Woods and Tree Cover

Burglars like to go unnoticed, so they will often target homes that offer plenty of shade and natural cover. That means they like to target homes in wealthy, semi-rural areas that allow plenty of space to sneak around and plenty of trees and vegetation to hide in. They look for homes that are far away from other homes, offer blind spots and places to hide while casing and approaching a target, and are out of view of neighbors and businesses. You may have chosen your home for its privacy and semi-seclusion, but those are also the same qualities that make some burglars believe it is a prime target.

6. By Watching Your Packages Pile Up

“Home Alone” got this right about property crime: Burglars casing a neighborhood look for homes whose homeowners may be away for long periods of time. The easiest way to tell if someone is on vacation is to look for piled-up mail or packages left for long periods on the front step. These are big indicators that a home is prime for the picking. If you plan to travel, be sure to arrange for a friend, family member, or neighbor to regularly take in the mail.

7. By Stalking Your Social Media

Burglars are always looking for innovative ways to improve on their crimes. Some are sophisticated enough to disarm many alarm systems. Others case houses by following victims on social media. If you are on vacation and posting images of your beachfront escapades on social media sites, a potential burglar may take this as a signal that your hope is vacant and vulnerable. If you want to share your best photos from your next getaway, best wait until you have returned home.

Take these key actions to protect your home while you’re away.

© 2021 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance