Reporter Kyle Iboshi of KGW News in Portland, Oregon recently interviewed 86 inmates who are serving time for burglary. He sent them surveys in which they were asked to respond anonymously about how they broke into homes, what items they were looking for and what time of day the crimes occurred. What Iboshi discovered was very revealing and could be used to help thief-proof your home.
1. Most burglars broke in through unlocked windows or doors. A few kicked the door open but most said they generally won't break glass.
2. The thieves were after jewelry, electronics, cash, collectibles, credit cards and guns.
3. Most would head straight to the Master bedroom to search for valuables, then spreading out to the rest of the home. They looked in ovens, refrigerators, freezers, toilet tanks, book shelves, even boxes of cereal. In a nutshell: they tend to be quite thorough.
4. Burglars prefer breaking in in the early morning or afternoon. Many said 12:30-2:30pm was their sweet spot as people who might be home for lunch would be gone but kids would still be in school.
5. They had mixed responses about signs proclaiming the use of a home security system. Some were deterred while other said they knew how to disable or avoid setting off alarms.
6. Large, loud dogs were a definite deterrent, especially large, 'home protector' breeds, but small dogs were not.
7. All of the inmates who responded said they knocked on the front door before breaking in. Most were prepared with an excuse in the event the homeowner answered the door.
8. If the alarm system in the home went off, most intruders left immediately. A few others would attempt to turn it off but would depart quickly if they were unsuccessful.
9. Visible security cameras were a deterrent but for many, it also signified that there were valuable items inside the home.
10. As for lights on in a home, the thieves offered mixed responses. Some felt it wasn't worth the risk but for others, if lights were on but some blinds were also closed, it signaled the homeowner was possibly away and trying to make it appear they were home.
11. The sounds of a TV or radio inside the home resulted in all the interviewees passing up the house. They wouldn't take the chance that someone was home.
12. A car in the driveway is another signal to would-be burglars to avoid breaking into that home. But others said that if the car was a luxury vehicle, that was a signal that there were valuable items inside.
13. Burglars don't want to be seen. As such, they prefer homes that are surrounded by large bushes, fences and trees as well as homes that are set far away from other residences as well as have cheap wooden doors and old windows/frames that allow easy access.
14. Some of the burglars interviewed surveilled a home in advance in an attempt to determine the best time to break in, if there was a large dog, what the homeowner drives, or if there is a hidden key.
15. When asked what homeowners should do to avoid their homes being burgled, the inmates suggested making their property visible by trimming bushes, trees and shrubs and have ample outdoor lighting. Others suggested installing visible security cameras as well as leaving on a radio or television to deter break ins.