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I’m a Burglar — Here’s How to Outsmart Me

From the mouth of a burglar to your ears: Here are the vulnerabilities they look for when they're deciding whether to rob you blind.

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When a car sits in the driveway, a burglar looks for easier targets.Imagenet/Shutterstock

Keep a Car Parked in Your Driveway

A burglar prefers to move in with the homeowner away. An investigative team at Portland, Ore. television station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they’d think twice if they saw a car in the driveway. Check out these other ways you can make it look like you’re home when you’re not.

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Locking windows and doors can keep a burglar at bay.Family Handyman

Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked

Yes, this seems obvious, and yet a lot of people actually forget to lock their doors and windows. Most burglars KGW surveyed said they tended to “break in” simply by walking through an unlocked door or climbing through an unlocked window. Plus: Check out these genius ways to fake that you have a home security system to deter burglars.

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Reinforced doors become harder to kick in.Grigvovan/Shutterstock

Consider Making Your Door Kick-Proof

Some of the burglars surveyed by KGW said they’d be willing to kick in a locked door. It’s actually not difficult to kick in a door. However, you can make your door much more challenging by swapping out the faceplate on your door for one that uses three-inch stainless-steel screws — just one of our tips for reinforcing your door.

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A random knock on the door could be a burglar sizing up your home.Zikatuha/Shutterstock

Don’t Ignore a Knock on the Door

Every burglar surveyed by KGW reports knocking on the front door before breaking into a home. If someone answers, the burglar makes up an excuse and moves on. You don’t have to open the door for the person, but definitely let the person know you’re home — you just might thwart a burglary.

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Noise in the house tells thieves you may be home.sico manzer/Shutterstock

Keep Your Radio or Television on While You’re at Work

Most burglars surveyed by KGW said they wouldn’t break into a home if they could hear a radio or see that the television was on. If you’re concerned about wasting electricity, consider setting a timer to turn on the radio or television during prime burgling time — find out what time of day burglars are most likely to break in.

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Don't provide cover for a burglar to approach your house.damiangretka/Shutterstock

Prune Those Shrubs

Burglars value their privacy while they’re breaking and entering. Theoretically, if every house on a particular block seemed empty, a burglar would still choose to target the house that offers the most privacy. To deter would-be burglars, keep the shrubs around your house well-trimmed.

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Good lighting discourages robbers.Nathadech Suntarak/Shutterstock

Keep the Outside of Your Home Well Lit

Above all, burglars don’t want to be seen; they’ll be deterred by a well-lit property. Even when relatively certain that you’re at work or on vacation, a burglar would rather target a home that can be approached in the dark to avoid calling any attention to themselves. Here’s how to spot (and fix) 35 other things that make your home a target for burglars.

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Keeping a set routine provides an opportunity for theft.hedgehog94/Shutterstock

Rethink Your Regular Routine

Burglaries happen much more quickly than you might think. Cleveland Police Captain Keith Sulzer tells Cleveland.com that he often hears burglary victims say, “I was just gone for ten minutes.” If you keep to a regular routine and a burglar is watching your home, you can bet he or she will know when you leave and for how long — even if you’re just walking the dog.

If it’s not possible to change up your routine, be sure to make it look like someone is home when you leave, turning on the TV or radio — even if you plan to return in a jiffy.

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Don't announce your empty home to the world.sergey causelove/Shutterstock

Watch What You Say on Social Media

Over time, more and more burglars use social media to target potential victims. Don’t make it easier for them by announcing when your vacation begins or posting during your trip. Even if you’ve set your social media settings to “private,” the information you post can still get passed around to someone outside your social circle. Check out the 13 sneaky signs a burglar is watching your home.

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The only thing a burglar hates more than being seen is being caught on camera.zorpink/Shutterstock

Consider Investing in a Security Camera

Get a camera and make it visible,” advises one of the burglars in the KGW survey. Of 57 convicted burglars surveyed by NBC 4 New York, 37 percent said they would avoid breaking into a house with a visible security camera positioned near a door.

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A properly installed alarm may deter some thieves.Sami_lelya/Shutterstock

Get an Alarm System

Not surprisingly, the sound of a home alarm system going off quickly deters most burglars, KGW found. However, some burglars said they follow a fast and efficient routine that allows them to get in and out in less than five minutes, giving them time to get away before police can respond.

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Robbers need to work fast, make them work hard to find your vauables.lapas77/Shutterstock

Hide Your Valuables Where Burglars Won’t Look

A determined burglar will search everywhere for valuables, including the stove, the freezer, the toilet tank, even boxes of cereal. However, most of the burglars surveyed by KGW reported heading to the master bedroom first before going through the rest of the house. Their second favorite room to search for valuables was the living room.

Storing valuables elsewhere can help make a burglar’s job that much more difficult. For instance, you’ll probably want to avoid the 10 hiding places burglars check first for valuables.

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Burglars say small dogs do not slow them down.Iuliubo/Shutterstock

Don’t assume your dog will deter a burglar

It’s worth noting that 70 percent of burglars surveyed by Fox 5 News in Atlanta said a dog wouldn’t deter them from targeting a home. And one of the burglars who spoke to NBC 4 New York said even a barking dog wouldn’t stand in his way. “Dollar Store Beggin’ Strips do wonders,” he said.

Up next, here are some inexpensive (yet effective!) DIY home security ideas.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.