Posted January 23rd, 2013 by SimpliSafe
When a burglar goes out to case the joint, what does he see? Does he make note of the names on the mailboxes, or signs someone has settled in? What makes him decide to smash that window — or turn around and slink away? At SimpliSafe Home Security, we're always looking to find out how burglars think, and recent studies by the U.S. Department of Justice and its affiliates have shed some light on what criminals look for in their victims. Check out this list and find out if your home is burglar bait, and what you can do about it.
Three Favorite Targets
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "single heads of households living with children experienced the highest rates of burglary while no household member was present," while single mothers had the highest rates even when someone was home. This makes a strange kind of sense — burglars are looking for the most bang for their buck with the lowest risk. A house full of kids is probably full of swag as well, and only one adult guarding the fort means only half the chance of a confrontation.
Tip: An Imaginary Spouse is Good Backup
Single parents have enough on their plates without keeping one eye on the bushes all the time. To avoid setting off a robber's radar, try covering a little bit — sometimes an extra name on your mailbox, apartment directory, or People magazine subscription tag is enough to make a burglar turn back. Make sure your kids know what to say when they answer the phone, and how to call the police or trigger your
if they ever need to. Above all, don't let home security fall by the wayside.
found out the hard way that, even if your to-do list is taller than you are, basic security measures should be at the top of it.
Known rental properties, particularly city apartments, are magnetic to burglars. If you were a burglar, wouldn't you target a place where the neighbors don't know each other and people are going in and out all the time? The Justice Department found that people living in rental properties were at a higher risk for burglary across the board, regardless of family composition or whether anyone was home at the time. Another study, by the nonprofit Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, found that "neighborhoods with higher mobility—those with shorter-term residents—tend to have higher burglary rates." A high-rise is practically a buffet.
Tip: Act Like You'll Stay Forever When you start renting a new place, make it a priority to check your entrance points — talk to your landlord and replace window and door locks, strike plates, and hinges if they're not up to snuff. Get to know your neighbors and talk to them about looking out for each other, or starting a neighborhood watch. And just because you won't stay there forever doesn't mean you can't get an alarm system — wireless technology means there are effective, affordable home security options that you can install immediately and take with you when your lease ends. Better than not having anything left to pack up.
You know what they say: bad guys always return to the scene of the crime. This cliche is useful for TV detectives but pretty scary for the rest of us. The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing says that homes that were recently broken into "are up to four times more likely to be burglarized" than homes that got off scott-free. The Justice Department has a whole manual on repeat victimization. Thieves come back because they assume what made for a successful steal the first time isn't likely to change.
Tip: Don't Get Fooled Again!
If you've already lived through one burglary, and you don't want to follow this trend, what can you do? First of all, take the things that made you vulnerable the first time and fix them. Sure, there are some things you can't change, but there are plenty that are under your control. Get rid of any immediate signs of vulnerability — fix any damage done by the break-in, so a different opportunist doesn't go in for the leftovers. Update your window and door locks, put in some light timers, and spend the weekend doing a little security landscaping. If your recent experience has left you feeling unable to handle things on your own, contact your local police department for more specialized advice and assistance. Keep in mind that "any subsequent burglary is most likely to occur within six weeks of the initial crime," because robbers come back for the new stuff you bought to replace what they already stole, and they figure you won't have made much security progress in that time. Prove them wrong!