Does Your Home Invite Burglars In?

April 17, 2013

Homes are castles to the families that live in them. They are places to retreat to that are safe. They provide protection while everyone is snuggled in their beds asleep at night. They hold the items that families value while everyone is away at work, school or at play. To think for a moment that homes can actually be visually appealing to a burglar is a scary thought.

Criminal Targeting of Residential Homes

Burglars desire the greatest reward for the least amount of risk. The reward for a professional burglar is obviously higher than that of a local thug looking to get money for drugs. However, both choose their targets based on the same criteria. They want to get in and out without being discovered.

Random burglaries are unlikely. Burglars make choices to hit houses based on a selection system. Some crimes of opportunity may appear random, but the burglars all had goals and success in mind once the act of breaking in commenced.

Home Invasion or Burglary?

Unlike burglaries, home invasions are not recorded as a statistic on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Few states actually define what is meant by home invasions. Burglaries are committed when no occupants are present. Home invasions occur when occupants are inside homes. Some intended burglaries turn into home invasions because burglars did not realize homes were occupied. The motivations behind some home invasions also include intent of harming occupants. Still, the goal remains to commit crimes with as little risk to the criminal actors as possible.

Things That Invite Burglars In

Family behaviors, a lack of security precautions and basic routines can act as invitations to burglars. Each interact to form a matrix that criminals use to decide to break in. Burglars begin by wanting something they think is in the target home. The next step is looking for patterns, risks and opportunities.

Burglars look for indications of alarm systems. They check for surveillance cameras. They look for windows that are unlocked, especially ones hidden by shrubbery on the first floor. Barking dogs may cause burglars to choose a house next door.

Lack of motion detecting exterior lighting provides a cover of darkness where criminals thrive. Cheap locking mechanisms on main doors that are easily circumvented with common tools puts homes on the “To-Do” list of many burglars. Leaving out empty boxes for the trash hauler that announce the arrival of a new big screen TV, computers and game consoles are written invitations that there are worthwhile goods inside.

Homeowners need to take a hard look at their homes through the eyes of what burglars are seeing. Consider anything that would-be thieves might consider enticing from the actual desirable goods to the ease of gaining access to them. Close those gaping security holes from the biggest to the smallest as soon as possible. It is not about protecting the goods. It is the safety of families that is really at stake.