Driving through many neighborhoods throughout the country you could expect to see a lot of “Beware of Dog” signs, but do those actually keep intruders away?
What about those home security systems constantly being advertised on TV, do they really make burglars leave before making off with someone’s valuables.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask a burglar what he, or she looks for when deciding whether or not to rob a home? Fortunately for you, somebody else already did.
KGW News, in Portland, Oregon, sent a questionnaire to 86 inmates in the Oregon Department of Corrections who were convicted of burglary. The questionnaire consisted of 17 questions, asking the inmates various things such as “What time of day did you prefer to break in?” In these reports the inmates gave details of how they chose a home, what they did to break in, and what they did if someone happened to be home.
A lot of the inmates simply gave short responses, while others used this as a healing process to make up for their own wrongs. One inmate said that he hopes to “help the people I may have at one time wronged… as someone who committed these types of crimes for 20 years.”
Hopefully their answers help you keep your home, and family safe.
1. How Did You Break In?
Most of the burglars made their way into the house through an unlocked door, or window. However, a lot of the inmates said that when the door was locked they would kick it in.
““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.”
One inmate wrote that he would “start scouting around 2-3pm, and would drive through upper class neighborhoods,” looking for things like closed blinds, and empty driveways.
2. Once Inside, What Was The First Thing You Looked To Steal?
Guns, money, jewelry, and electronics were all very high on the list. A lot of the things burglars are looking for can be easily protected in a safe.
“NRA sticker on car bumper = Lots of guns to steal”
A separate inmate said that he would “head straight for the master bedroom” and start going through everything in search of valuables. “Flip all the clothes out the dresser,” he wrote. “Flip the bed over… Most people keep valuables in main bedroom.”
3. Where Did You Look For Hidden Valuables?
Many inmates agreed that the master bedroom was the best place to score valuables, but some of them gave some extremely “fishy” answers.
“Everywhere! From the stove and freezer, to the fish tank and toilet tank, book shelves and in boxes of cereal.”
One inmate was kind enough to note that when ransacking someone’s house, one shouldn’t “break stuff just because.” At least we know these guys are considerate criminals.
4. What Time Of Day Did You Prefer To Break In?
For these burglars, there wasn’t really any wrong time of day, so long as they knew that nobody was home.
“Between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Anyone that was home for lunch should be gone by then and most kids should all still be in school.”
The goal for most inmates was to make sure they were at a house where they knew the people had left, and weren’t returning for a while. One guy did say, though, that “you never rob from friends and family.” What a softy.
5. Did home protection or security signs posted outside the home deter you?
A lot of burglars were confident in their abilities to turn off home security systems, while others said that the sound simply didn’t stop them, as they knew they had an allotted amount of time.
“A window left open with an air conditioner could be a way into someone’s home without triggering the alarm.
Some burglars were fearful of even trying to set off the alarm, as they could leave fingerprints on the buttons for the security system. However, a lot of them also said they worse gloves for that very reason.
6. Did pets in the home, like a dog, make you think twice?
Most of the inmates said that a big, loud dog would usually deter them from entering a home. Small dogs didn’t seem to be a deterrence.
“Dogs are a deal breaker for me. Big breeds are the best to keep people out”
One inmate said that “animals can sense nerves” and that if he remained calm, the pets would usually do the same. So, if your dog is a lover, chances are he/she won’t fight back against a thief.
7. Did you typically knock on the front door before breaking into a home?
Every single inmate answering said that they knocked on the door before breaking in.
“Yes. Almost always, unless I have been watching the place to know their schedule.”
A lot of inmates said that people are “creatures of habit” and once you pick up on their routine, it’s easy to figure out when the house will be empty.
8. If someone answered the door, what would you do or say?
The answers the inmates gave varied from “Sorry, wrong house,” to “have you seen my dog?”
“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.”
How many times have you been at home during the day, and had someone knock on the door asking to fill out a survey?
9. If a home alarm system went off, what would you do?
A lot of intruders said that if they were unable to disarm the alarm, but if it went off, they would leave.
“I would try and turn it off or get the hell out of there.”
Some of the burglars gave themselves a time limit of around two-minutes before deciding to flee the scene.
10. If there was a security camera visible, would it keep you from breaking in?
The majority of burglars said that homes with visible cameras definitely kept them from breaking in.
“Most times yes, but keep in mind a camera is no help when something of extreme value is in the home.”
Other inmates said they always wore a mask, just in case they weren’t able to detect cameras.
11. Did lights on in the home make you think twice?
The answers varied for this question, as a lot of inmates said that lights were a big no-no. On the flip-side, some inmates knew that people like to give the appearance of having someone at home, and often leave lights on for that reason.
“Would drive through upper class neighborhoods looking for many things, like porch light on with all window blinds closed.”
One inmate said that seeing lights on in the house kept him away no matter what. “Even if I knew their schedule,” he wrote.
12. If you heard a radio or TV on inside the home, would you still break in?
Almost every inmate said that the sound from a TV or a radio was a good indicator that someone is probably home.
Of course, some inmates still broke in despite hearing noises inside. Overall, though, they do deter burglars.
13. Would it make a difference if there was a vehicle in the driveway?
Keeping your car in the driveway, according to most burglars, is one of the best ways to prevent your home from being broken into.
“Most of the time that is a surefire sign that someone is home”
One burglar said that having leaves on your driveway is a sign that someone hasn’t been home for a while. Keep that in mind during the fall.
14. What was your ideal target for a burglary?
Wanting to avoid detection, burglars would often target homes with big fences, and large bushes.
“Home away from other homes, blind spots, older window frames, cheap wooden doors.”
One inmate said that if someone had a nice car then they probably had a lot of money, and that automatically made them targets.
15. Did you ever do surveillance on your target?
Some burglars spent a few hours staking out their targets, while others simply walked by, and checked if the door was unlocked.
“Mainly I do my evaluation in the first few minutes.”
Inmates said that there wasn’t a big need for surveillance during the holidays, as a lot of people travel out of town.
16. If you did surveillance, what were you trying to figure out?
Simply put, burglars were looking for the best way to break in, and what time to do so.
“Who lives in the home. What are their weekday schedules. What they drive. Is there a dog. Is there a hidden key… People are creatures of habit, and people like the person I used to be, realize that and take advantage.”
Inmates hoped to get an idea of how much time they’d have once they decided to break in.
17. What is the one thing homeowners can do to avoid being burglarized?
Inmates said that keeping the house well-lit, as well as maintaining a clean yard, are both good ways to deter burglars. Getting together with neighbors, in an effort to watch the community, is also another suggestion.
“Home alarm, know your neighbor so they can report suspicious people around the neighborhood”
The best way to keep our homes from being broken into is to look out for one another. That doesn’t seem too hard!
Most of the inmates expressed their sincerest apologies for their crimes, and hoped that their answers would prevent others from being victims of burglary.
SHARE these answers with friends, and family, and let’s keep our homes, and belongings safe! God bless!