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21 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You

Is it a crime to spend money on a home security system these days? A look inside the mind of convicted burglars will help you decide.

1 / 21
cleaner cleaning dirty carpetAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

I’ll Look Familiar

Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator. (Check out these 13 inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home)

2 / 21
Viio

Don’t Let Me Use Your Bathroom

Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3 / 21
white house with front porch exterior landscapingV J Matthew/Shutterstock

Your Yard Gives Us a Lot of Clues

Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have. By the way, this is the most common time for burgarlies–and it’s not at night.

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mailboxMemoryMan/Shutterstock

We Know When You’re Away for a Long Time

Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it. Check out these 12 unusual things postal carriers see every day.

5 / 21
shutterstock_571822381 winter snow boots in entrywaymacondo/Shutterstock

Create Tracks in the Snow

If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. Here’s another way to install a reliable security system in just one day. DIY home security systems will help to protect your home and your family.

6 / 21
security alarmsGrzegorz_P/Shutterstock

Glass Doors are Our Best Friends

If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

7 / 21
white room large glass windowsAntoha713/Shutterstock

We Target Certain Windows

A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too. While you’re at it, you should memorize these tricks to outsmart criminals, too.

8 / 21
rain umbrellaPinkomelet/Shutterstock

We Aren’t Scared of a Little Rain

It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door-understandable. But understand this: I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

9 / 21
door to door salesman knock home improvement scamPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

We Try to Come Off as Polite

I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

10 / 21
dresser drawerJtairat/Shutterstock

We Know You Hide Things in Your Drawers

Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet. Word of advice: Find better hiding places for your valuables.

11 / 21
kids toy roomAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

We don’t Want to Deal with All of Your Kids Toys

Here’s a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12 / 21
safe lockFreedom-Studio/Shutterstock

Bolt  Down Your Safe

You’re right: I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me. You might think your hiding spot is safe, but burglars know your tricks. Learn the 10 hiding spots burglars always look first.

13 / 21
smart tvEarly Spring/Shutterstock

We Don’t Like TVs

A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at faketv.com.) Criminals aren’t just in your home, though–they’re also online.

14 / 21
door to door salesman boss clipboardMicolas/Shutterstock

I Won’t Look Like a Burglar

Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

15 / 21
FH10JUN_509_56_M01 french bulldog in doggy doorPhoto: Courtesy of PetSafe

It Pays to Have a Dog

The two things I hate most: Loud dogs and nosy neighbors. (By the way, if you’re ever out at a restaurant or bar, here’s how to practically theft-proof your purse.)

16 / 21
Exterior house windowsKaramysh/Shutterstock

I’m not Afraid to Break a Window

I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing. It’s human nature.

17 / 21
Security alamBen-Bryant/Shutterstock

Always Set Your Alarm

Your alarm only works if it’s on. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it? (Your phone is an easy gateway for criminals to access your personal information, too. Here’s how to keep your phone and private information safe.)

18 / 21
Vertical BlindsSomsak Sarabua/Shutterstock

Close Your Blinds

I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

19 / 21
shutterstock_391462930 phone textingKite_rin/Shutterstock

Don’t Give Updates on Social Media

Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

20 / 21
bedroom open windowPhotographee.eu/Shutterstock

Close Your Windows When You’re Not Home

Lock your windows. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.

21 / 21
Open door to gardenDmitri-Ma/Shutterstock

Remember to Lock Your Door

If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in. (Speaking of crime and disaster, you won’t believe how unlucky these homeowners were.)

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.comand Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.