As much as film and popular culture give the impression of a bumbling burglar who hardly knows what he’s doing—and even though there are real-life examples of this—many burglars are savvy and calculated. They understand when to strike, who to strike, and what part of the home to strike. 

Their methods differ depending on the home, neighborhood, time of day, and what tools homeowners themselves provide for burglars to use. Oftentimes the most convenient tools to get a burglar’s job done are left right at their fingertips. It all starts at the front door.

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The Front Door is the Target 

You might have assumed that a burglar would never choose the most obvious place to go about his business, but this assumption is false. The most common place a burglar gains entry of a home is the front door. This occurs through a standard break-in process, or the burglar strikes through a crime of opportunity—the front door was left unlocked or even open.

According to the United States Department of Justice, 27% of these events occur when a family is home—they may be in the backyard or different room—and of those instances, 7% result in a violent situation.

Homes that have recessed doorways or features in architecture that obscure doorways are the most vulnerable. Burglars will use anything to hide. They’ll hide behind large plants, overhangs, wall shrubs, or any other useful front door decor. 

The majority of burglaries happen during the daytime, during the workweek. They strike whenever a homeowner is away. Since burglars are often a crime of opportunity and they occur when a door is left open or unlocked, it’s important to properly secure and close every door and window. You can use deadbolt locks for more vulnerable areas of the home. 

How Can This Be Prevented?

To prevent a burglar from getting in through the front door, front doors should be completely visible from the the street and not provide any shelter or place to hide. This means no overgrown plants, decorations, or other objects that provide a burglar coverage at the front door.

A bright colored front door will provide even more aid. Make sure the front door has sufficient lighting during the night time, including the use of floodlights and motion sensor lights.

Security alarm decals and signs on the lawn that promote home security or animals with further deter a burglar. Burglars are not likely to attack a home that has home security or animals.

Remember not to let mail, packages, or other signals that you are home pile up at the front door. These give burglars the idea that nobody’s home and will give them the desire to strike. If you’re going out of town, have lights and devices like televisions on automatic timers to give the impression of activity and someone being home.

Never place your hidden keys in obvious places. A burglar is smart enough to know where a hidden key is—or realize that the odd looking rock in the garden is fake—so avoid keeping hidden keys in these obvious places. That includes underneath doormats, pots, et cetera. If you need to use hidden keys, give them to neighbors, family or close friends.

Pro-Tip: Don’t have signs or stickers on cars or homes that promote what you own. For example: an NRA sticker signals that you are a gun owner and likely have a number of guns inside of the home.

Further Tips On Vulnerability and Prevention

Windows, back doors, and side entrances are other common areas for a burglar to strike. Burglars are constantly looking for areas of the home where they can gain entrance without having to worry about attracting any sort of attention. This means corner homes, alleyways, side doors, and homes that have large objects that provide places to hide are the most vulnerable. Tall bushes, fences, and other common home decor can conceal a burglar. 

Sliding glass doors, especially on balconies are vulnerable. These doors are often made with glass that can be shattered without making much noise. Some are even vulnerable enough to be opened up with a screwdriver from a savvy burglar. Make sure to install glass break sensors and completely secure sliding back doors on balconies or terraces

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Thieves will have a harder time to do their work with landscape that is dangerous due to thorny plants, gravel or rocks—even solid fencing can provide cover for burglars

Remember that some burglaries are people you may know. Close friends, maids, gardeners, technicians, or others that have frequent access to your house and know the home better than you do. If you have workers that come to the home frequently—no matter how trustworthy they appear—don’t tempt them by leaving out valuables, prized possessions, or advertising wealth. 

Important reminders: Don’t promote wealth. Don’t keep expensive belongings outside. Don’t neglect home maintenance. Never leave burglary tools outside of the home including ladders, step tools, other tools, or lawn furniture. These tools can be used to climb and access a home. If you have a shed, make sure the shed area is also cleaned up and isn’t unlocked. The best way to prevent burglary is to make the home as unattractive as possible. This means making sure the home is the opposite of what burglars often look for. They look for unkempt homes, dirty exteriors, and signs of on owner who is away, doesn’t have security, or doesn’t care about his property.