Wearing all-black clothing, a covered face, and with theft utensil of choice — a ladder, the “ninja burglar” of Staten Island, New York, confessed to committing more than 100 burglaries on the island in the last decade. He’s also accused of committing burglaries in upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. And he mainly broke into occupied homes while using his ladder to climb through second-or-third floor windows or terraces.

According to FBI crime data in 2010, a burglary was committed every 14.6 seconds, and its more aggressive brother — a robbery — every 1.4 minutes.

The US Department of Justice reported 3,394,700 household burglaries in 2011. The median dollar value of items and cash stolen was $600 per year, and households with an income of $14,999 or less were victimized at a higher rate than households with a higher income.

Burglars are interested in all items: cash, firearms, toys, animals, farm and garden products, food, liquor, etc. are all fair game.

How do they get in?

Burglars aren’t often touted as creative, but to their credit (not that they deserve such) they’re clever in their process.

Some target homes that indicate absence. Clues include packages or mail at the door, un-mowed lawns, un-shoveled snow, and lack of activity. They often prefer daytime for a better chance of vacancy or holiday seasons when families are away.

Some will monitor your schedule and watch homes for extended periods of time to take note of movements.

Points of entry are everywhere: front door, secondary doors, windows, climbable trees or objects, pet doors, and others.

How to prevent a break-in

There’s steps you can take to ensure a safe home and discourage burglars from targeting you, including:

  • Placing lights on timers
  • Befriend neighbors and request home watching item collection (mail, newspapers, et cetera) 
  • An all-encompassing home security system with alarms
  • Lawns and window signs advertising home security product
  • Dogs, or beware of dogs signs
  • All doors need deadbolts — knob locks are easily jimmied using credit cards
  • Spare keys can be found,so hide with discretion or give to neighbors

Burglars search popular areas of the home and they want to get in and out as quickly as possible.  If they aren’t able to find anything they’ll likely search through the entire house.

Sometimes it’s best to keep small amounts of money or valuables in obvious places to satisfy them and store the rest secretly.

Burglaries can be traumatic and victims often feel uneasy and violated following incidents, but with the proper game plan and procedures in place — you can be in the best position to secure your home.