One night, you come home to find your door kicked open.
Your house has been torn apart. Your electronics are missing. No laptop, no iPod, no television left. Your wife's jewelry is gone.
You've just been the victim of a burglary.
Home burglaries affect about 1.5 million Americans a year. According to the latest crime statistics released in late September, burglary victims lost $3.6 billion in property.
If this happens to you, you might ask yourself – what could I have done to prevent this? And if it's never happened to you, you'll want to protect yourself.
Recently, investigative reporters for television news station KGW in Portland, Oregon asked 86 convicted burglars about how they chose homes to target. Everyone should read their findings and protect themselves today...
1) Keep your doors and windows locked. This might be common sense, but most homes broken into had an unlocked entrance that burglars used. This included windows on second or third floors.
Along with this, lock up any items that someone can use to get to a second floor. Don't keep ladders in your backyard or in an unlocked garage.
2) Don't advertise. Keep valuables out of sight. If you have an expensive computer or television, keep it away from windows, particularly windows that face the street.
Similarly, one of the burglars surveyed in the report said to avoid certain advertisements. The example used was putting an NRA sticker on your car or in your window – it alerts the burglar that you have guns to steal.
3) Be visible. Keep the front of your house visible to the street, if possible. Burglars prefer homes with large trees, bushes, or other growth near the door to shield them from the street. Similarly, repair or upgrade any weak doors or old windows that might be easier to break.
4) Lean on your neighbors. Ask one of your trustworthy neighbors to keep an eye on your house and report suspicious activity. If you're gone the same time every day, burglars could case your home and know exactly how much time they have to rob you. Prime time for this, according to the survey, was between 12:30 and 2:30 in the afternoon. Most folks are at work and kids are still at school, so few people are home.
5) Be observant of surveyors. Don't open your door to anyone you don't know. Several of the burglars explained that they would knock first to see if anyone was home. If someone was, they would pretend to be lost or looking for a lost dog. Worse, some posed as people with surveys or petitions to sign and would then take a look inside the house.
One of my researchers has this last problem around her home in Baltimore. Her neighbors told her to call whatever company the surveyors claim to represent. If the company didn't send anyone to survey the neighborhood, call the police and report it.
6) Use a deterrent. The best deterrents included leaving the television and radio on. Leaving the lights on depends on the home and neighborhood, as some burglars saw lights on with the shades all drawn in a wealthy neighborhood as a clear sign no one was home.
And almost every burglar said a loud, large dog was enough to make them back off; small dogs did not have that effect. Both my assistants have large dogs known for scaring off mail carriers and delivery folks with their intimidating barks.
Home alarms also helped, particularly if they couldn't be easily disarmed. My researcher has an alarm that sends her alerts by phone when the power goes out, either because of a storm or from anyone tampering with it.
Also, if you have an alarm, let your insurance company know about it. They might even offer you a discount on your home insurance.
The One Thing You Need to Do If Someone Breaks In
Now let's say someone does break in, and worse yet, you are home when it occurs. As I've written before in my book, The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual, there's one thing you can do to scare the burglar away...
Jack MacLean is a former burglar. He stole more than $133 million in jewels in his career as a thief. After his arrest and conviction, he decided to reform. In prison, he interviewed some 300 other burglars about their preferred tricks and tactics. He compiled what he learned in his book: Secrets of a Superthief.
It turns out 100% of the burglars admitted that one technique would scare them away from a property in an instant... They all were afraid of a blast from an extremely loud air horn. Search online or go to your local marine supply store. You can buy an air horn for around $20. Buy the $20 model... $10 horns are not loud enough. Falcon makes ideal marine horns.
Simple, safe techniques like this are the preferred approach to stopping a threat. The threat disappears, and no one gets hurt.
What We're Reading...
- Learn more about KGW's investigation.
- Another defense strategy I like: pepper spray.
- Something different: Here's why some songs get stuck in your head.
P.S. Keeping your home safe is one of many tips I have in my book, The Doctor's Protocol Field Manual. I also cover how to prepare for a disaster, how to protect your safety and privacy, and how to pad your portfolio for any type of crisis.
Get your copy for $17 today (including shipping) by clicking right here.