If you’ve seen this, my apologies; it’s making the rounds on the interwebs and it very well might have appeared in your Inbox.  Despite being broadly circulated it contains some useful information, so I thought I’d pass it along.  Coincidentally enough, I realized there’s a simple solution to hiding a key outside your home that I’d somehow overlooked in a post on that topic. See below for that update.

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.

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. 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 .)

14. 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. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

16. 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. I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

18. 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. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.
20. 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. If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

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”.

Related: a follow up to my post, DIY:  Hide a key outside your home where no one will find itOne reader suggested his situation (lives in a very public area) didn’t permit any of the solutions offered in the post.  If that’s true for you as well, there’s another option:  use a key safe (or “lock box”) like those used by realtors.   A type which locks to the doorknob is available, or if  that doesn’t appeal to you, the same basic product is available in a configuration which can be bolted to an exterior wall (make sure you’re installing it into the very solid framework around a garage  door or similar location).  Both sell for $17.50 at Amazon.

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13 Comments on “21 things a burglar won’t tell you” & a follow up to an earler post

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Lifehack Ninja. The Lifehack Ninja said: “21 things a burglar won’t tell you” & a follow up to an earler post http://bit.ly/bXS6I3 […]

  2. Adriano says:

    FakeTv looks great! Has anyone ever tested it?


  3. Megan Zuniga says:

    Nice entertaining post. Sadly some people have the false sense of security when it comes to their homes. And the FakeTV looks interesting too.


  4. Adriano says:

    Talking to friends, another point came out. If Mr and Ms Burglar call you on the landline number and get no reply, they could assume that no-one is at home. The solution: registering leaving a silent 5-second lap on the message of your answering machine. Genuine callers will wait, burglars will hang up.
    Alternatively, you could say “hallo”, a few times, pretending you can’t hear them. Again, genuine callers will insist, and then will think that you made a more or less nice joke on the answering machine. Burglars will hang up.
    What do you think about this? Could it work?


  5. tim b says:

    They say a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, so I guess no longer be a liberal ;-(

    An early Saturday morning I was awoken at 4 am to a bunch of clamor at my home. A few days ago I saw a large raccoon in the yard. At first I thought maybe it is a break in and I should call the police and grab a gun, then I said it has to be that raccoon and I better run upstairs to at least secure it in a single room (The kidsand wife had already left to be with my wife in Miami for spring break)

    I was wrong. It indeed was a break in. Two kids in their teens, or maybe one of them in their yearly twenties.

    I only saw one of the burglars at first. He was small. I instictigrabbed him as he tried to run and was going to drag him down the stairs to call the police when a second one came from around the corner. The second started punching me in the face while the first one kicked and squirmed until he broke free. He yelled to the second one a couple of times to get the gun that was in his pocket. SO I really did not want to set him loose.

    I am too soft. While this was going on I saw a scissor within my reach. I thought about using it as a weapon, but could not bring myself to using it on a teenager. In retrospect I wish I would done something to disable one of them long enough that the police could catch them. Then I would not have to worry about them coming back.

    The police found a toy gun they dropped as they jumped out the second floor window. Thank God I did not have my gun or there would have been a shoot out as soon as the kid mentioned he had a gun, me with a .45 them with a plastic toy. The police hope they touched it before putting on their gloves

    I am fine, a little bruised and had a cut above my eye that I should have gotten a couple of stitches, but I had to catch a plane that morning. I am not very happy about this.

    The police think it was probably a friend or a friend of a friend of one of the kids, who knew they were going to Miami for spring break. Despite their age they were professional criminals, wearing surgical gloves. They broke in through a second story window off of a little roof. I am amazed at how little details of their appearances that I could recall. It was all just a surreal flash. Start to finish probably a minute or so.

    I have thought about what I would do if there was a next time.


  6. tim b says:

    Part two: What I learned from the break in

    Unloaded guns in safes don’t do much good in real situations, but guns not in safes with teenagers in the house is even worst potential outcomes. Plus if you hesitate in shooting a criminal they may very well have a gun and shoot you — good people try to avoid bad outcomes and criminals don’t care. If you shoot them on sight, then you are probably in criminal trouble.

    So as I rethink all the mistakes I made Saturday morning. And I made plenty. It’s 4 AM and a situation that was unanticipated. Today I think everyone should have a plan, just like in a fire.

    1) I should have called 911 right away. I live in a nice area so I’m thinking it has to be a raccoon. Had I found it was a raccoon before the police arrived then I could have cancelled. Even if I hadn’t cancelled and it turned out to be a raccoon, I would have only looked like a fool, not a bloody fool.

    2) I should have gotten into my car after calling 911 and drove off, instead of going upstairs to investigate the potential raccoon problem. I was the only one home so there was no one who I needed to protect but me. I would have only looked like a fool to a cop I would never see again.

    3) Pepper spray. I see too many downsides to a gun in close quarter situations, including a stronger assailant or multiple assailants using your gun to shoot you. The downside of pepper spray is you would have to change the carpet, but if you shot them you would still need to change the carpet. The upside of pepper spray is you could use it without a second thought and no long term regrets.


    Kevin Reply:


    Thanks so much for sharing your story with my readers… absolutely incredible, and I’m so glad you’re safe. Makes me wonder what I’d do, and how I’d react. Perhaps I need to start keeping my cell phone on the nightstand!!

    Thanks again for taking the time to share, and be safe!



  7. Adriano says:

    Not a nice experience at all… A friend of mine had to sell the flat, burglars broke into, because his wife couldn’t live there any longer.
    Just two comments:
    – It could have been an acquaintance, but also someone who presumed that the house could have been empty because of spring break holidays
    – However this proves that the weakest point in security is represented by what the human beings do.


  8. […] Theft-proof your house by knowing the 21 things burglars won’t tell you. […]

  9. Jeff says:


    What exactly would leaving a cell phone on your nightstand accomplish? It would get the police there in ten minutes. The altercation described lasted one minute. The bad guys would be up to two miles away, on foot, or 10 miles away by car by the time the police arrived!

    I have called 911 and waited on hold for 14 minutes. Really.

    The cell phone would only help if you have a place to hide while talking on it to the police. How do you talk while hiding? Wouldn’t they hear you? Otherwise, you can either grab your phone on the way out, or use a neighbor’s phone.

    Tim had it exactly right: you need to have a weapon you’re not going to hesitate to use, in case you can’t get out, and to get out if you can.


  10. Troy says:

    I’ve got a few extras:

    1.) If you don’t lock your deadbolt, you might as well leave your door open because it takes less then a minute to pick your normal lock.
    2.) If I dress like a handyman or repair man with a tool belt and some building materials, neighbors tend not to ask questions.
    3.) If you leave your car in the driveway, don’t leave anything of value in it, or you won’t even know its gone until morning.
    4.) Sure they’re against the law but mobile code scanners will open lots of garage doors if they are about 10 years or older.
    5.) If you leave on vacation, take your window A/C unit out, and shut and lock the window. They’re very easy to tilt out and have an open window to crawl through.


    Kevin Reply:


    Great points; thanks for commenting!


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