Cartoons often portray the idea of the bumbling burglar—the non-savvy criminal who attempts to get away with a crime that is way over his head. While this is often the case—and some burglaries are simply crimes of opportunity—many burglars have their wits about them more than we give them credit for.

Some burglars plan elaborate heists, have great attention to detail, and deploy cleverness in their criminal operations. Knowing how burglars think, act, and what they look for is an important step in home protection. Here are four tricks you might not have imagined burglars would use:

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Phony Disguises are Used

We warn against opening the door to strangers for many reasons, including those that are attempting to sell home security equipment. This rule also applies, because burglars will often pose as everyday workers that could be found frequenting a neighborhood. 

Costumes may include disguises as mailmen, salesmen, landscapers, or other common people you would see in neighbors. While dressed up, burglars may knock on doors to obtain information and get a peek at your house, including seeing if they can spot a home security system from the doorway. Eliminate this possibility by not opening the door to strangers or unexpected guests.

Burglars Learn Schedules

Burglars want to strike when homeowners are away. They don’t want their plans to be interrupted by an unexpected person at the home, because the last thing they want is to get caught, and they want to get away with some valuables. For this reason, the majority of home break-ins occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when most homeowners are at work.

To make a successful burglary more likely, some burglars will keep an eye on targeted homes for a few days or weeks. They’ll attempt to learn a homeowners schedule so they have the best shot at striking when you are away.

To limit this, try not to be too routine with what you do. Come home at different times, leave at different times, and don’t always take the same routes. If you see suspicious activity in your neighborhood, immediately alert the police.

Household Items for Entry

Homeowners might not realize it, but many of the everyday items you have around your house are the perfect tools for burglars.

Ladders can be used to climb and gain access to a balcony or window. Hammers can be used to break a window. Screwdrivers can be used to unlock doors or windows. And other items in the tool-shed can be aids for a break-in. For this reason, it’s encouraged that homeowners never leave a tool-shed unlocked, and they have an empty and clean property with no tools outside.

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Metal Detectors to Find Items

If a burglar does gain access to a home, garage, or tool-shed, he doesn’t have very long to get valuable items and get away. A burglar has to move very quickly to not cause attention, react if he trips off a home security alarm, and to make sure neighbors don’t become aware. With such a small window of action, burglars resort to tools like metal detectors to help them find items.

An easy solution to avoid metal detectors finding your valuables is to install a personal safe that fixed to a wall or floor, has a combination lock, and can’t be moved.

Burglars will be beat, simply by installing home security equipment and understanding their tactics, so you know what to look out for.