Real Burglars Reveal the Sneaky Tricks They Use to Break Into Your House

Burglar breaking into a house via a window with a crowbar

Burglars have some pretty sly tricks to rob your home. | iStock/Getty Images

It’s something no one wants to think about. A home intrusion happens every 15 seconds, with more than 2 million reported per year.

You might already know better than to leave air-conditioning units in your windows when you go on vacation or let your mail pile up outside. These habits are basically like hanging a giant sign outside that says, “Rob me!” But there are a few lesser known things you should pay attention to that can help keep you from becoming the next victim of a robbery.

Ahead, check out some of the devious plots that real burglars use to gain entry into homes, along with what they’ll do once they’re inside.

‘Remember me? I was just here last week installing your new carpet’

Most professionals you hire to perform services in your home are upstanding citizens who would never think of stealing from you. However, there is a small percentage who have much more sinister goals beyond just cleaning your gutters.

These men and women are smart enough to keep their hands to themselves while they’re on the clock. But they might be scoping out your home to check for valuables and the likelihood that they could get away with breaking and entering. They might even leave a window unlocked to make it easier when they return later.

Next: This is the best place to stash your cash.

‘Keep your cash and jewelry in your kid’s room’

Jewelry vintage

They rarely check kids’ rooms for valuables. | itakefotos4u/iStock/Getty Images

Burglars admit they almost never go in kids’ rooms. If you have valuables to hide, that’s the best place for it.

Next: Doing this is like advertising for your house to get robbed.

‘That Facebook status told me everything I need to know about when to break in’

Like button on Facebook

Burglars like when your Facebook status tells them all they need to rob your house. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Before you post to your social media accounts that you plan to be out of town, stop and think who might be able to see it. Updating your status with photos from the plane is basically just advertising that your home is sitting vacant and vulnerable.

Next: Here’s why a fence is a bad idea.

‘That fence you put up to keep me out could be the reason I break in’

garden fence

A fence gives burglars privacy, too. |

Fences might help your house feel like a fortress, but they could actually make your home a target for burglars.

Intruders want to avoid being seen by the neighbors, so they target homes with large shrubs or tall fences that will keep their nefarious activities hidden. If you want to avoid becoming a victim, keep bushes trimmed and install bright lighting in your front, back, and side yards.

Next: Beware of anyone asking directions.

‘I’ll almost always knock before I break in’

front door

Knocking is to check whether someone’s home. | iStock/Getty Images

The easiest way for a burglar to check whether someone’s home is to ring the doorbell. An anonymous survey of 86 inmates serving time for burglary revealed that 100% of respondents knocked on the door before burglarizing any home.

If you answer, they’ll just make up a story about needing directions or their car breaking down.

Next: This family member keeps intruders away.

‘The louder and larger your dog, the less likely I am to rob your house’

German shepherd in grass

A big bark might scare away burglars. | keleny/iStock/Getty Images

Your bichon frise probably won’t help ward off any intruders. But if you have a German shepherd or other large breed that’s fiercely protective of the family, it will help dissuade would-be burglars from targeting your house.

Next: It may be time to cancel the landscaper.

‘Nice landscaping. Now I know you have a lot of money’

large house

A well-kept house looks like it might have some expensive items inside. | iStock/Getty Images

Everyone knows professional landscaping isn’t cheap, so if the outside of your house is looking good, a burglar might set their sights on you as a target. People with money generally have well-kept lawns.

Next: This one small step before a vacation can help deter intruders.

‘That mail piling up is an obvious sign that you’re out of town’

Woman checking her mail

Get someone to collect your mail for you. | iStock/Getty Images

Newspapers at the end of the driveway, a mailbox overstuffed with mail — these are all prime examples of details that could make your house an easy target. Avoid making it obvious that you’re not at home by taking the few minutes to stop your mail and newspaper while you’re away, or have a neighbor collect it for you.

Next: Never install your alarm in this spot.

‘Installing your alarm where it’s visible from the outside is a bad plan’

Woman setting burglar alarm

A burglar might be able to see whether your alarm is disarmed. | iStock/Getty Images

A home alarm system can help deter burglars — but only if you set it. Avoid placing the alarm within view of a window or decorative glass in your front door. Then, a would-be intruder won’t be able to see whether it’s set when he’s scoping out your house.

Next: Remember this tip when it’s snowing.

‘The lack of footprints in the snow tells me you’re definitely not at home’

Man shoveling snow

If you’re not home get someone to shovel for you. |

Escaping to the beach during the winter months? It may be worth it to pay someone to clear your driveway and front walkway in the event of a snowstorm. Nothing says, “Nobody’s home!” more than uncleared snow with no footprints.

Next: Never put anything valuable here.

‘Newsflash: Your sock drawer isn’t an original hiding place’

Group of gray socks

The sock drawer is a common hiding spot. |

When burglars break in, they usually head straight for the master bedroom to look for valuables, and yes, they’ll definitely check your top drawer. Try stashing valuables in less obvious places or better yet in a heavy safe.

Next: Your safe might not be very safe.

‘That’s a nice safe — I think I’ll just take it with me’

combination safe

Bolt down your safe. | TeerawatWinyarat/iStock/Getty Images

A burglar won’t spend a whole lot of time trying to get into your safe while he’s in your house. But if it’s not bolted down, he’ll just take it with him.

Next: The reason you might not want a security camera.

‘Security cameras might stop me — or they could have the opposite effect’

security camera

They might just disable the camera. | PHOTOGraphicss/iStock/Getty Images

Installing a home security camera might seem like a great theft deterrent. But in reality, it might prove you have something worth stealing. Convicted burglars had mixed reviews on the effectiveness of cameras. Some avoided houses that had them, while others just disabled them.

Next: This effective theft deterrent costs almost nothing.

‘Leave the TV on and I probably won’t risk it’

remote pointing at TV

A loud TV could be a deterrent. | Gpetric/iStock/Getty Images

A blaring television or radio is usually enough to deter a would-be intruder. Even if they suspect you’re really not home, they won’t take the risk and will just move on to a different house instead.

Next: This bumper sticker could make you a target.

‘Your NRA sticker tells me you’ve got guns to steal’

rows of guns

Guns are often stolen. | Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Burglars typically target jewelry, electronics, cash, and credit cards. But they’ll also happily steal your guns and collectibles.

Read more: The No. 1 State Where You’re Most Likely to Be Robbed or Burglarized

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