7 Effective Strategies to Outsmart Burglars and Stop Them Completely

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For the past 20 years, the FBI has received over a million burglary reports every year. However, the number of yearly burglary cases has been steadily declining since the 1980s, thanks to the improvement in home security systems.

Despite these advancements, burglary is still a significant problem for Americans.  In 2019, Americans suffered a total of $3 billion in losses according to the FBI, and the average loss per burglary offense was $2,661.

Knowing how burglars choose homes is a great way to protect yourself and your family. You can use simple strategies to outsmart burglars, from parking a car in the driveway to keeping your mailbox empty.

Table of Contents

  1. How To Catch And Stop A Burglar
  2. Strategies for Outsmarting Burglars
  3. Final Tips on Outsmarting Burglars
intrusion of a burglar in a house inhabited

How To Catch And Stop A Burglar

Know if You are Being Targeted

If you want to learn how to catch a burglar, you should first understand the signs indicating you’re a target. A common thing burglars do is simply knock on the door to see if you are there. Primarily, they want to check if you leave your doors unlocked and what kind of security you have.

Possible signs that you are being targeted include cars parking outside the house for hours, people repeatedly driving around the neighborhood, or strange marks on your house, or on nearby trees. Some burglars communicate with a symbol system to exchange information about homes. If you notice any suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, call your local non-emergency number.

Understand How Burglars Choose Homes

One of the best ways of outsmarting burglars is knowing exactly what they look for in a home. Once you understand how burglars choose homes, you can make sure they see your house as high risk and low reward.

Burglars scan neighborhoods looking for vulnerable targets with valuable items such as jewelry, medication, or electronics. They look for three main things: easy access, signs that you aren’t there, and low visibility or security. The combination of these elements makes a burglary quick and easy. Dogs, security cameras, or a neatly-kept garden make your home appear more secure.

Many times, burglary victims are surprised by how quickly a burglary takes place. Changing up your daily routine regularly can prevent a burglar from knowing when you’re gone, deterring them from performing a quick break-in.

Burglar wearing a balaclava looking through the house window

Strategies for Outsmarting Burglars

Knowing how burglars choose homes is an excellent way of outsmarting them. You can make small changes in your house and daily life to make your home look more secure. These are some of the strategies you can use. 

Keep a Car in the Driveway

The news station KGW from Portland, Oregon, conducted an investigation on burglary, interviewing 86 incarcerated burglars. Almost all of them said a car parked in the driveway would stop them from breaking into the house or at least would give them pause. 

Keep Doors and Windows Locked

Doors and windows are the primary access points for burglars. Always keep your doors locked because it’s one of the first things burglars check. They’ll knock on the door, and if you aren’t there, will try to open the door. During summer, remember to lock windows when leaving the house.

Never leave spare keys under doormats or in a nearby plant pot. Burglars know people hide keys in these places and can easily spot them.

Keep the Radio or Television on

It’s a good idea to leave the radio and television on when you aren’t home. If a burglar hears the noise from outside, it gives the illusion someone is in the house. If you don’t want to spend the electricity, you can set your devices to turn on at a specific time during the day.

Contrary to what people think, most burglaries happen during the day. The low visibility of night can be an advantage, but it can also make burglars look more suspicious when approaching houses or walking in the street. 

Monitor Mail While You’re Out of Town

When you leave on vacation, ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail. You can also talk with your local post office and ask them to hold your mail. A full mailbox is a sign that you aren’t there and your house is empty. It can indicate to burglars that your home is an easy target.

Burglars also look for expensive boxes outside your home. During the holiday season, some people leave cardboard boxes of expensive items such as TVs or computers outside or in their recycling bins for pick up. These tip off burglars to valuables in your home, so it’s essential to stash them in the garage or basement until recycling day to avoid unwanted attention. 

Consider the Visibility of Your Home

Think about how visible your home is from the street. If there are many bushes and trees between your home and the road, these elements can provide cover for a burglar. Consider removing bushes, trees, or fences from your front yard.

Fences might give you the benefit of privacy, but they can also provide a burglar with the necessary intimacy to go undetected. If you live in a busy area, having good visibility from the street is more effective for security than fences. 

Install a Security Camera or an Alarm System

Keeping a car in the driveway or keeping doors and windows locked are simple ideas you can use to outsmart burglars. A more direct way of protecting yourself from burglary is to improve the security systems in your home.

When thinking about how to catch a burglar, consider installing cameras in your front yard. These act as a good deterrent for burglars, and they can also provide surveillance videos to see if anyone is lurking around your house.

Put Lights on the Outside of Your Home

Automatic motion sensor lights can surprise a burglar who approaches your home at night. The lights turn on automatically, making the burglar think that someone is home. Paired with a good camera, they make a burglar think twice about entering your home.

Find out more ways to protect your home by checking our home security blog

Burglar breaks into a residential building.

Final Tips on Outsmarting Burglars

In current times, people post a big part of their lives on social media. While websites like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok are a great way to share experiences and communicate, they can also serve as an excellent source of information for burglars. In general, avoid posting vacation pictures until you have come back from a trip, and be careful with the personal information you share online.  

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