Those “dumb criminal” stories are good for a laugh, but smart burglars (who don’t get caught) aren’t funny at all. A burglary happens roughly every 15 seconds in the US, and most go unsolved. Knowledge is power: learn how burglars case your house.
1. They Pose as Utility or Maintenance Workers
Here’s how the typical scam works: a thief posing as a utility worker comes to your door and either flashes a fake id or says he “left it in his truck.” He says he needs to check something in the basement or attic or backyard. While you are distracted by his activities, an accomplice waiting outside enters your home and burglarizes it.
In other scenarios, the thief works alone, perhaps posing as a pest control worker:
The common thread in the crimes is the burglars posing as employees of a pest control company. They’re going door-to-door, figuring out people’s patterns and routines, then coming back for crime later.
“What we believe they are doing is they’re casing the neighborhoods and then returning at a later time to commit thefts from vehicles, thefts from garages and burglaries,” said Fishers Police Sgt. Tom Weger.
Always ask for identification and call the company to verify that the worker is authorized to be there. Contact the police if they refuse to show id or leave quickly when you ask to see it. Be sure to alert your neighbors to the potential threat.
This scam is a good reason to keep your security system armed even when you’re home. While you’re busy with a workman in the basement or outside, the door/window sensors will tell you that someone active in another part of the house.
2. They Pretend To Be Fundraisers Or Religious Workers
Would-be burglars have posed as cookie salespeople. Home invaders have even disguised themselves as trick-or-treaters! These impersonators all want the same thing: your money and your stuff.
Remember that you’re under no obligation to open the door to anyone who walks up. Use a 1080p home security camera to view live video footage via your GetSafe app. You’ll know who’s there before you open the door – and have a photo/video record if needed.
3. You See Strange Signs
UK police uncovered a system where burglars used special symbols to alert fellow criminals to rich and/or vulnerable homes:
Burglars are scrawling secret symbols in the street to help other criminals know which homes to target. The symbols may indicate that a home is wealthy, has already been burgled or may have nothing worth stealing. Chillingly, they may also indicate if there is a vulnerable female in the home, or if the occupant is nervous, afraid or easily duped.
Thieves may actually be spying on you!
Police in a Texas community broke up a high-tech burglary ring that used tiny outdoor security cameras to monitor homes. Be alert for any unusual graffiti or even electronics near your home.
4. Your Home Is On The Market
Realtor showings and open houses are great ways for burglars to case properties. After all, potential buyers want to go into every room, check the windows, and open the closets. The two biggest dangers to you are:
- Property crimes: Thieves may unlock doors or windows for easy entry later. Others slide small valuables into purses or pockets.
- Identity theft: Place your personal information and financial records in a locked filing cabinet.
This blog post from a professional Realtor offers tips for protecting yourself and your home when you have it listed for sale or rent.
There’s no way to prevent all burglaries, but once you know how burglars case your house, you can take steps to keep your property more secure.
- Review our tips for preventing a burglary.
- Be a nosy neighbor. Strange cars lingering or non-residents strolling around photographing houses are burglary warning signs.
- Be cautious when a worker returns unexpectedly. He may have a story about leaving a tool inside or needing to check something. That may be true – or not.
Monitored home security systems watch your home when you can’t. GetSafe’s security professionals are on duty 24/7. Our system includes cellular back up and keeps your home safe even when the power is off.