13 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You

Written by Janice Lieberman

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. 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. 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.

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4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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. 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.

8. 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. 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. Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

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

12. 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.

13. 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.)

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

Reader’s Digest Contributing Editor Janice Lieberman shared these and more tips on the Today Show and in her blog.

9 thoughts on “13 Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You

  1. Fliptrx

    A sign on my back gate reads, ‘My Dobermans can make it to this fence in 4.5 seconds, can you?’

  2. Mel C

    Having a barking dog works wonders. We had a Sheltie (who weighed 20 lbs. when wet, but had a mighty bark), and of 4 first-floor apartments in our building, ours was the only one that did not get broken into. Ours was the only one with a dog. Maybe it was a coincidence…?

  3. Jack Rider

    Having a shotgun is also a nice way of saying “Hi” to the person who thinks robbing your house might be fun as well. Lest it be to obvious, but the sound of a racking shotgun is the sound of music to a robber

  4. JohnVB

    There is 14thy thing, Mr. Burglar! One more way to make it seem like you are home when you’re not, in addition to light timers, is playing burglar deterrent CD. It’s a CD with recorded everyday, random household sounds. The main purpose is to make your home look occupied while you are away (to work or on vacation). Cheap? Yes! The site http://www.SuperDeterrent.com offers downloadable CD file for, I believe, is $3.99 CAD. Basically, I use the CD every day when I go to work. There is another site as well, http://www.AudioGuard.com, that, I think, offers a mailing option, instead of download.

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