Not all burglars are created equal. For every Robert De Niro from Heat there’s a Tom Hanks from The Ladykillers. Well, to be fair, I guess De Niro wasn’t that good after all. Especially considering the fact he gets… Sorry, I’m getting a little off topic.

The point is basically this: some burglars are more capable than others. While most burglars use brute force tactics to snatch your belongings, a few are skilled enough to pick locks and skillfully evade security measures. In order to better analyze various threats, home security experts divide burglars into four different categories: Professional Class I Burglars, Professional Class II Burglars, Professional Class III Burglars, and amateur burglars.

Each class of burglar has a different skill level and present their own unique security threat. However, these classifications refer only to the burglary abilities of the criminal and nothing else. Burglar classifications have nothing to do with a criminal’s willingness to cause harm. A Professional Class I Burglar might be able to get into and out of your home without you realizing it, but a Professional Class III Burglar can still use a gun and the threat of violence to get what they want.

In general, these categories can help homeowners anticipate which threats are most likely to threaten their family and property. To help you prepare for the worst, we’re including a few helpful pieces of information about each class of burglar, such as a skills overview. Get to studying these bad guys and become the unrivaled king (or queen) of your castle.

Amateur Burglar

  • Threat Level: Low Threat
  • Abilities: Little to None. This class of burglar is most likely to use brute force and violence to get inside of your home.
  • What They’re After: Anything that Isn’t Nailed Down
  • Percentage: 40 to 60%

This is the burglar you need to worry about. Reckless, unskilled, and unpredictable. Amateur burglars are the brute force, “smash and grab” type that destroy homes as they look for anything of value. Burglars with this skill level will kick in your door or break windows to get into your home. Fortunately, they usually try to hit a house when the owners aren’t around.

Tips for Defense:

While amateur burglars are, by far, the most prevalent type of burglar, they’re the absolute easiest to defend against. By practicing regular security measures, homeowners can greatly decrease the likelihood an amateur burglar will attack your home.

1. Lock your doors!
2. Place bars on windows
3. Get a home security system

Professional Class III Burglar

  • Threat Level: Medium to Low Threat
  • Abilities: Avoids security measures and seeks out vulnerable homes, like those with hidden spare keys or unlocked doors. This class of burglar may kick in a door or break a window to gain access to your home.
  • What They’re After: Money, Jewelry, Guns, Low Cost to High Cost Appliances (power tools, automotive parts, and clothing)
  • Percentage: 25 to 35%

Professional Class III Burglars mostly seeks out homes with minimal security measures. They will sometimes watch homes to discover weaknesses, like which doors are most likely to be unlocked. For the most part, this level of burglar will avoid obvious substantial security measures, like a home security system.

Tips for Defense: Successfully dealing with this type of burglar will require greater attention to security than the average homeowner. Homeowners worried about this caliber of criminal should follow a few practices beyond everyday security measures, like eliminating hidden spaces around the home. However, homeowners may not need a home security system to defend against a Professional Class III Burglar.

  1. Use deadbolt locks
  2. Install a solid door or security gate at the front AND back doors
  3. Never hide keys outside the home
  4. Install a home security system

Professional Class II Burglar

  • Threat Level: Medium to High Threat
  • Abilities: Has enough knowledge to avoid security system to attack vulnerable areas. Will climb roofs to gain access to windows or vents.
  • What They’re After: Money, Jewelry, Guns, General to High-End Appliances (from TVs to computers and musical instruments)
  • Percentage: 10 to 20%

These are the burglars that capitalize on homeowners’ limited knowledge of security. A Professional Class II Burglar will look for windows that are unprotected by security systems, they’ll climb roofs, and break open garage doors. A burglar with this skill level will use anything to their advantage, such as poorly lit yards and areas hidden by shrubbery.

Tips for Defense: Many people think getting a home security system will stop burglars. To protect a home against Class II Burglars, homeowners will need to go beyond a home security system and eliminate vulnerabilities, like limited visibility.

  1. Get a home security system
  2. Practice “security landscaping”
  3. Lock your doors!
  4. Install motion activated lights

Professional Class I Burglar

  • Threat Level: Maximum Threat
  • Abilities: This caliber of burglar can successfully pick locks and disable other security measures, like security systems.
  • What They’re After: Money, Jewelry, Guns, High-End Appliances (TVs, stereos, etc), Safes/Vaults
  • Percentage: Less than 5%

This is the type of burglar you think of whenever you watch a commercial for a home security company or worry about the safety of your home. When planning for disastrous events, it’s only normal for people to think about the worse. Fortunately, Professional Class I Burglars are very rare and often focus their efforts on properties with a lot of valuables.

Tips for Defense: With this type of burglar, there’s an unfortunate truth to recognize: if a skilled, talented burglar wants to break into your home, they’ll probably succeed. This class of burglar won’t likely be in your neighborhood anytime soon as they tend to focus on very wealthy homes and often steal specific items. In general, you won’t have to worry too much about this highly skilled class of burglar but if you want to defend against them, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money improving your home security.

  1. Buy a home security system with security cameras, glass break detectors, motion detectors
  2. Install dead bolt locks
  3. Remove any areas of low visibility
  4. Secure all doors and windows with quality, working locks
  5. Lock ALL doors and windows, including the garage and basement
  6. “Security landscaping”
  7. Hire a guard service

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