When we perform site surveys for home alarm customers, we do more than design an alarm system. While on site, we also make overall security recommendations. Installing a home security system can certainly make criminals think twice about their actions. In the case you still do have a break-in, an alarm system creates a siren response to alert homeowners if they are home and potentially scare the culprits away. Additionally, monitored alarms create a central station response that can alert the police to a crime. However, a security plan does not start and end with a security system. We recommend taking many other steps to prevent your home from becoming a target for burglars.

A mailbox on the side of the road.

Keeping an empty mailbox while you are away from home leaves less evidence of your absence.

In this post, we will share what burglars look for in choosing their targets. Burglars have very specific things that they look for while casing out a home. Knowing the items on criminals’ “checklists” can help you lower your chances of a break-in. Many homeowners have ideas about when and why break-ins occur based on what they’ve seen on television or even on security commercials. However, many of these ideas go against what burglars actually look for. Let’s take a look at five key things that burglars look for when choosing their targets.

An Empty Home

Last year Fox 5, a Fox affiliate in Atlanta, posted this article sharing the results of an interesting survey. The station asked 99 convicted burglars 20 questions. These questions revolved around how burglars chose their targets and entered homes. One of the main themes? Burglars do not seek out confrontation. As one inmate named David Joy pointed out: “I wouldn’t want any confrontation. I wouldn’t want anybody to be home.” Security commercials that show burglars confronting families in their homes certainly scare homeowners into considering home security. However, empty homes make a much better target for burglars than occupied homes.

We recommend taking steps to make your home look occupied in your absence. Two thirds of the inmates surveyed would not break into a home with a radio or television on. Using smart lights on randomized timers can also make an empty home more difficult to spot. In the case of an extended absence, have your mail held at the post office until you return. Furthermore, ask your neighbors for help making your home look occupied during longer absences. Having people stop in at the house and park cars in your driveway make your home much less attractive to potential thieves. The less amount of time your house spends looking empty, the harder burglars will think before choosing your home as a target. Let’s look at another way burglars look to avoid detection while choosing homes to break into.

A wooden fence and gate.

Features that provide privacy in your yard, such as high fences and gates, can also provide cover for snooping burglars.

Cover from Neighbors and Pedestrians

Our recent Guide to Shed and Garage Security pointed out the importance of keeping your entire property visible. As you just read, thieves avoid confrontation and discovery whenever possible. If neighbors, a driver on the road, or a pedestrian walking by a house spots a burglar, that can create a confrontation as well. Worse yet, it can cause a confrontation with the authorities if someone calls in about a crime in progress. The same criminal quoted from the study cited earlier, David Joy, says as much in the related article. “A thief will stay away from a well lit home,” Joy relates. “He’ll skip away to the dark.” We strongly recommend installing bright outdoor lighting to illuminate your property.

Of course, fences and certain landscape choices can render good lighting useless. High wooden fences and shrubbery that provide burglars shelter can work against you. Homeowners occasionally enjoy the privacy and scenery that these provide. However, anything that blocks your property’s view from others creates places for burglars to wait and plan their next move. Remember that privacy within your yard means privacy for both invited and uninvited guests. Failing to keep this in mind can make your home a more likely target for burglars. Let’s look at another item on a burglar’s “checklist” for their potential victims’ homes.

Evidence of Valuables

When entering a home, burglars have a good idea of what they wish to carry out with them. Thieves can sell electronics and jewelry for quick cash. Even better? Finding money and credit cards for immediate use. Leaving evidence of expensive possessions or purchases for all to see can decrease your home security. Our 5 Steps to Stay Safe and Secure this Holiday Season discusses how leaving evidence of expensive new items allows burglars to “window shop” before committing their crime. The same concept holds true all year long.

Do you have the latest and greatest television set visible near a window for all to see? This ensures criminals that they will find at least one valuable product in your home. Did you just buy a new laptop or tablet and leave the packaging on the curb? This displays your new purchase to the entire neighborhood. Keep valuable items out of view from your exterior windows. Additionally, consider leaving the packaging from expensive purchases indoors until the garbage and recycling trucks are about to arrive. Burglars often scope their targets out carefully before making a move. Advertising your most valuable items makes your home a much more likely target for burglars. In addition to thinking about what they could get from your home, burglars also consider ease of entry into the house itself. Let’s look at this factor next.

An open window with decorative flowers.

Creating easy entry into the home through open or unlocked windows and doors makes your home a very likely target for burglars.

Easy Entry Into the Home

Burglars have a very short amount of time during which they feel safe carrying out their crimes. Many criminals enter a home through unlocked doors or windows. In fact, 53% of the inmates questioned in the Fox 5 study broke in through an unlocked door or window. That means over half of these criminals got into houses with no obstruction at all! Making it hard to get into your home can lead to less time a burglar spends inside of it in the case of a break-in. In some cases, it can even lead to an aborted break-in attempt. Struggling to get inside a home does not sit well with burglars. If you’ve followed our first steps and made your home look potentially occupied and your yard visible to anyone near your house, struggling to break in makes thieves that much more uneasy.

Of course, locking doors and windows is a very basic security tip. Taking security precautions to make your home a difficult egg for burglars to crack also helps. Our 6 Ways to Improve Your Door Security provides tips for making your doors less vulnerable.  Your doors provide the first layer of protection against crime. Beefing up this security can make your home a more difficult target for burglars. We also recommend installing equipment to notify you in the case of a break-in. Let’s take a bit of time to examine how doing so can add security to your home.

A Residence with Minimal Security Measures

Aside from lighting, inmates surveyed for Fox 5’s study related a couple other security measures that might have kept them at bay. Roughly two-thirds (66%) of respondents claimed that a visible security camera would deter them. Another 60% shared that a security system’s siren would get them out of the house quickly. Interestingly, only 27% indicated that signs for security alarms would give them pause. This means that burglars know many homeowners put these signs outside without an alarm system inside to back them up. Or in some cases, burglars use strategies to outwit home security systems. You can read about these in our post answering the question How Do Burglars Defeat Alarm Systems?

Burglar alarms and camera systems can help you out in a couple different ways. For starters, both of these devices can notify you in the event of a crime. A burglar alarm creates an immediate siren alert. Additionally, a monitored alarm system also calls a central station upon any alarm activation. At that point, the central station notifies the homeowner of the alarm event and call the authorities if necessary. A home surveillance system allows you to view a crime after the fact. Additionally, we’ve pointed out that the presence of these devices alone — especially cameras — can cause thieves to look elsewhere. The added security and deterrence provided by adding this equipment makes installing home security and surveillance systems an easy decision for many homeowners.

Make Your Home a Less Attractive Target for Burglars

We hope that this post has given you some ideas to make your home a less likely target for burglars. Additionally, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the material presented here. We provide free site surveys for home owners to create a security plan based on each home and yard’s unique layout and features. In addition to recommending security equipment to fit your needs, we can also provide some overall security tips. We can work to make your home a little less attractive to thieves at first glance. Additionally, we can also provide equipment to notify you in the case of an emergency, and even allow you to see what happened after the fact. Together, we will create a complete and individualized security plan for you and your family.