12 Jan 2017

Think Like a Thief! 50 Things Burglars Do that can Help you Prevent Theft

Prevention is often better than cure. In order to prevent a burglary, you need to think like a burglar.

Here are 50 things burglars do that if you knew, you’d be better equipped to avoid a break-in. From where they look and what they are looking for, to what tactics they use and who they are most likely to target. Think like a thief and thwart the theft:

1) They Knock

No, it’s not a sign of common decency or good manners; they knock to see if you’re home. If no one answers then they know they could be on to something.

2) They Check Whether or Not Doors are Unlocked

Nobody home? They may as well try their luck simply opening the door. With 1 in 5 people admitting to leaving their door unlocked when they are out, it would seem they could be in with a good chance of hitting the jackpot!

3) They Check the Back Door

A burglar never forgets the back door, so neither should you.

4) They Look for Spare Keys Around a Property

key on floor no CR

Leaving a spare key under a rock, under the matt or under a garden gnome is nothing more than a cliché that crooks are not only on to, but taking full advantage of.

And remember if they find your key and let themselves in, your insurance company won’t pay out!

5) They Have a Look Through the Window

What valuables you have, where they are and what weaknesses there might be in your home security. All of this and more can be sussed out simply by looking through the window. Plus it’s a sure way to see whether or not you are home.

You aren’t safe in the evening either. When homes are lit up at night and with your blinds or curtains open while you relax and watch TV, a potential thief can simply look in at your home from across the road and see everything they need to in plain sight.

6) They Notice Closed Curtains

It’s a lose-lose situation in many ways. You don’t want them looking in while you are out; but you don’t want them knowing you that you are out either. It could make it very obvious no ones in if curtains or blinds are closed completely.

The best option is to keep all valuables out of sight and all security devices in plain sight. Perhaps use frosted windows or partially close blinds.

7) They Check Out your Garden


You have a gravelly path that’s loud to walk over? Nice trimmed bushes leaving a clear view of windows, doors and every crook of your lawn? A well-lit perimeter with motion detector lights coming on and off with every slight movement? Then your home is probably not an ideal target, with too much opportunity of getting caught.

On the other hand, your garden has many dark corners and overgrown bushes? Then there are plenty of places for a burglar to hide away and go undetected.

8) They Check Out What you Throw Out

Nice big TV box in the recycling, receipt for a brand new laptop in the paper bin. What’s on the outside of your home can say a lot about what’s on the inside, and it is a good place for a burglar to start.

9) They Read your Post

That’s right. Your mail is a direct way to find out important information about you, as well as your personal details for identity theft. You might have a letter from the doctors which could tell a thief you are vulnerable and might not be able to fight back if they were to intrude; or an old bank statement could tell them how well off you are.

Throwing your old letters out can be dangerous, but there is a simple solution – buy a shredder.

10) They Look for Open Windows

open window no CR

Open windows are not only an easy in, but they indicate you’re probably quite careless in general with home security.

11) They Keep an Eye Out for Piled up Newspapers and Letters

Piled up papers probably mean you’re away.

12) They Leave Flyers or Litter on your Driveway or Outside your Door

A simple test. Unless you’re away, you’re likely to move this kind of thing.

13) They Look for Lights


Lights on could mean you’re home or that they could be spotted if they broke in. Lamp timers are a simple but wonderful thing.

14) They Look for Empty Driveways

This is another indicator no one is home. Especially if in the evenings and at weekends you have 3 cars and a bike outside.

15) They Make the Most of Snow

Heavy snow and not a footprint or sign of a shovel in sight? It could well mean you’re away. Remember, burglars don’t take a snow day!

16) They Check Social Media


You’re off on holiday – of course you tell your Facebook friends list. You buy a new TV – of course you have to tweet about it. It’s not hard for a thief to know every detail of your life; including what kind of goodies you have in your home and when you won’t be there at all.

In fact 78% of burglars are now using social media to target homes.

17) They Watch You 

If you’re leaving and coming home at the same time every day, it won’t be too difficult for a crook to suss out when is best to strike.

18) They Cold Call 

If you’re landline telephone is connected, it’s probably not too difficult for someone to get hold of your number. If you don’t answer it’s possible you aren’t home. But did you know you can actually forward calls to your mobile?

19) They Look for Security, Such as Cameras and Alarms


They don’t want to get caught, so this is something they look out for. Not in your price range? Fake ones can be just as much of a deterrent.

20) They Test your Alarm

You have a fancy alarm or security system – you don’t bother to turn it on. Burglars know this. It’s not unheard of for a prospective intruder to throw something through a letterbox or hit a door or window with force, just to see if your alarm is actually on and working.

Use it if you have too much to lose.

21) They Look for Codes Next to the Alarm 

Does someone in your house have the memory of a goldfish? Always forgetting the code? Don’t write it down right by the alarm, especially if a thief could just peer through a window to see it.

22) They Make the Most of the Time of Year

Winter brings dark nights and plenty of opportunity to go unseen. Unsurprisingly, it also brought a 25% rise in burglary claims last winter.

23) They Take Advantage of Bad Weather

rain no CR

People don’t like to walk around in the rain, so there is less chance of a criminal being caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing when the weather is bad. Plus while you’re fumbling around with your umbrella or shooting out of the door to your car, you’re much more likely to forget to lock it behind you.

24) They Take Advantage of Ladders and Tools Left Out

A ladder is a great way to get up to a less secure second floor window and leaving things lying around usually indicates carelessness. Perhaps you’ve also been careless enough to leave a window open or your house alarm off?

25) They Listen Out 

For a dog bark, a TV on and even for chatty neighbours who could catch them out.

26) They Smash Windows

smashed winodw no CR

Single glazing is an easy target and windows in doors could create access to an inside lock.

27) They will Lever your Window Sash

A tactic used by many. But, extra security can be purchased to protect the window.

Click here for Window Security

28) They Attack the Lock

Statistically speaking, the door is the most tried route of entry into a property and the lock is usually the weakest part. Picking, drilling and bumping are just a few techniques used.

How to prevent this? Get a new lock with a BSi Kitemark and proven defence against lock breaking techniques.

29) They Take Advantage of Overhanging Locks

You’re lock might be great, but if it doesn’t fit your door you could have a problem. Overhanging locks can be snapped in seconds and can be seen by any intruder who gets close to your door.

30) They Kick Down Doors


If they can get away with it they will do it. Make sure your door can put up a fight.

31) They Target Patio Doors

Thieves love patio doors. They can be easily lifted and taken out. Make sure your patio doors are reinforced with a bar in the sliding mechanism.

32) They Key Fish

Keys kept by the door? All it takes is an undefended letterbox and a long hook for a thief to swipe those keys; whether it’s your car keys or the doors keys so they can come back and let themselves in later.

33) They Barge Past You

You should never answer the door unless you know who is on the other side. Unfortunately if you do, and then have no protection, it won’t take much for someone to then forcefully enter your home.

34) They Make Niceties

They might be asking if you want your gutters cleaning or simply asking for directions. They stop, they chat and they play nice. But, what they are actually doing is buttering you up. Next thing they are asking to use your phone or the bathroom and they are helping themselves to what’s not there’s.

35) They Open up your Home to Them

window lock

They don’t call it getting a foot in the door for nothing! Whilst in your home, they might not take anything, but they might just open or unlock a window so they can slip back later.

36) They Scope you Out 

Next doors ‘workman’ might just happen to be interested in your new alarm system and what’s its pros and cons are. The local delivery driver might take extra interest in where and when you’re off on holiday and the guy dropping off your new fridge might really take particular interest in your new flat screen TV. Or, they could be scoping you out. Finding out when you’re home and what’s in your home, and pretending to be whoever they have to to do so.

37) They Play the Part

A charity worker, someone taking a metre reading or a checking the boiler. They will be whoever they need to be to get in.

38) They Take Advantage of Authority Figures


If a policeman comes knocking you will probably let them in. But crooks come in all shapes and sizes.

39) They Gain your Trust 

Remember, it’s not always strangers who are potential thieves. Some people you willingly and trustingly let into your home may not be trustworthy at all – from family to friends, neighbours or workmen.

40) They Use Scouts 

Speaking of people you trust. A burglar might not be able to get close to your home, but they could use the people who can to do so for them. Maybe a babysitter, gardener or maid you hire. They use the people who have access to your home to scout out your property and even leave doors unlocked for the thief to come back later on.

41) They do Mark your Property

Find a mysterious mark on your fence or door? You might have been marked out by a scout as a potential target.

42) They Look the Part

removal van no CR

They have got in, and now they need to get out with your things. But, would someone question a man in a high vis vest taking your TV to their removal van? Possibly not.

43) They Check the Sock Draw

So try and be a bit more original with your hiding places.

44) They Take the Safe with Them

They might not have time to crack it when they are there, but they will do later. Bolt it down.

45) They Check your Shed and Garage


If you’re house is unattainable, your shed might not be.

46) They Help Themselves

Anything left out in the garden or around the house is fair game to an opportunist.

47) They Climb 

Fences, walls, gates, anything they can to breach a perimeter.

48) They Target Students

Student areas see high burglary rates, and for good reason. Often, but not always students are more careless with their security, leaving doors unlocked and valuables lying around. Landlords are also usually reluctant to add expensive home security measures in homes for students.

49) They Target the Vulnerable and Elderly 

elderly no CR

No surprises here. If you have a friend, neighbour or family member who falls into this category and lives alone, its a good idea to check their home security measures and also pop round on a regular basis – so anyone watching knows they have someone looking out for them.

50) They Strike More then Once 

‘A string of burglaries in a local area,’ ‘5 houses on the same street targeted by thieves.’ You here these things time and time again. It’s too easy to assume lightening won’t strike twice in the same place, but when burglars get away with it once, they do it again.

Now you know how burglars behave you can ensure you are always one step ahead!

Find A Locksmith



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Think Like a Thief! 50 Things Burglars Do that can Help you Prevent Theft

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