North Carolina

How Burglars Select and Enter Homes
There will always be the opportunistic burglar who randomly picks a house and breaks into it. It may be kids in the area, those under the influence, someone who is desperate, or a foolish criminal. For the most part, burglars are clever, organized, and carefully select homes to target. Knowing what they look for, and the most common ways they enter the house, can help homeowners determine the best way to keep family and belongings safe and secure. Targeted Homes The location of a home is a major factor in selecting it for an invasion. Burglars seek homes that provide time, concealment, and a quick exit. A home on the outskirts of town, for example, is an ideal target. The distance from responders offers a few extra minutes to execute the crime. There are few neighbors to notice anyone suspicious in the area, and there will be minimal cars passing by the house. That home may offer privacy, peace and quiet, and prefect views, but it is also a target. Corner homes and those next to alleys offer burglars reduced risks of being seen while breaking into the house. One or more sides of the house does not face an adjacent property, which makes the home easily accessible. If neighbors turn into their driveways, for example, they will not notice someone attempting to break in from the far side of the corner home. Alleys also provide accessibility, as well as places to hide and a fast escape. Homes in heavily populated areas are also targeted. Strangers are in the immediate area all the time. It would be difficult to single anyone out from the crowd, notice if one person was hanging around a particular house, or even hear any noises that are out of the ordinary. Houses near shopping centers, sports arenas, transit stations, and busy office buildings afford burglars a way to slide into a crowd and disappear quickly. Many people are under the assumption that once a house in the area is burglarized, their home is safer. That is not the case. A successful burglary in the area will often entice thieves to return. They are familiar with the surroundings, may have noticed another home with easy access, and have already established an escape route. Placing plenty of outside lighting around the home and adding house alarms can provide a deterrent. Entering the Home Prior to entering a home, most burglars conduct surveillance on the targeted house. They take notice of when vehicles leave and return to the property. Attention is placed on any signs of a large dog or a home security system. A sign indicating house alarms are present, and surveillance cameras outside will make a thief think twice before entering a house. They will attempt to enter another home, and leave yours alone. If the family appears to be on vacation, the house is at increased risk for a burglary attempt. Burglars also look for areas of concealment near the home. That could be a privacy fence, trees or shrubs along the side of the house, or even a large planter on the patio. Approximately one third of the time, burglars gain access via the front door. They will break the glass panes on a decorative door to reach in and unlock it. They search for places where a spare key may be hidden, pick the lock, or quickly break the lock with a crowbar. Back, side, patio, garage, and pet doors are also common points of entry. Every door that provides access to the interior of a home should have a deadbolt on it. There are special security locks for sliding patio doors, and pet doors are available with solid panels that can be locked when the pet is in for the night. Windows also provide easy access. First floor windows are utilized most often for convenience. Basement and second story windows are rarely locked so they are easy targets for entry as well. Burglars can climb a tree, step on the lawnmower or picnic table in the backyard, of use a porch roof to get to the second store fast. Securing all windows and doors at all times is a simple way to discourage burglars. Take a minute now to go through the home and check the doors and windows. The reality of the situation is that most will not be locked. Getting Around a Home Security System Burglars also gain access by hacking into the home security system. They can jam the radio signal used to alert the monitoring company that doors or windows have been accessed. Stealing passwords to alarms is also possible. Experienced burglars can utilize internal security cameras to get a full view of the home, spy on the family, and learn where valuables are hidden. The vulnerability of wireless security systems is not anything new. What is different now it the easy or procurement, and the cost-effectiveness, of the tools and equipment required to jam signals and hack into most systems. It used to be difficult to find and operate tools needed for interfering with security systems, so the threat was minimal. Today, burglars can purchase what is needed from the internet, as well as get detailed instructions regarding how to successfully hack a system. Home security systems are a deterrent for some criminals, but does not present a problem for others. A wired system is much more difficult to hack. The drawback is the wires can be cut, which disables the system. A wired system also has to be professionally installed. A wireless security system that uses encrypted signals is much more difficult to hack than those that use signals that are not encrypted. When purchasing security cameras for the home, always purchase new ones. Used cameras are easy to hack into.