Outsmarting A Burglar

VinTech cares about what is going on in our community. Last week we attended another Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) burglary workshop where we were given a booklet of mug shots of arrested criminals in Chicagoland.

A pattern about these men struck us that made us sad- about 98% of these men are at the age they should be trying to BETTER their lives- go to college, apply for their first real job, or learn a trade.

In contrast to the “normal burglaries” we see, robbers are even hitting homes at nighttime through locked windows. In the past week, at least 3 (known) homes were burglarized in south side Chicago while occupants were blissfully unaware and fast asleep. Being a victim of a burglary crime is awful, but the thought of burglars creeping around your home and taking your valuables while you are sleeping raises the bar of vulnerability and violation.

We wish we could do more to help protect Chicago citizens from burglaries, but it’s up to YOU! As a home or business owner, you are the most important person in deterring crime. We’re not saying to go out and fight an intruder, but instead to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to break in. Burglars are lazy and target homes and businesses that seem vulnerable. Don’t let your property become their next prize!

The average burglar gets away with $1,281 in cash and loot, and in nine out of 10 burglaries, nobody is home. So what can you do? Think like a burglar and the rest will follow easily! Keep reading for tips from a real burglar!

  • Leave a small amount of money in an obvious place–under the mattress, in a cookie jar, in a drawer–to prevent your real stash of cash from being found. “If I can’t find money and valuables in the normal places I usually find them, I would continue to tear the house apart until I found something. Remember, the first rule is to steal money and valuables. We’ll keep looking until we find something.” But don’t leave too little. In a modest home, $100 will suffice. If you live in a wealthy neighborhood, however, and the crook finds only $100 lying around, he will assume that there must be more.
  • Write “Bank Safe Deposit Box” on an envelope and fill it with a list of items. Put the envelope in an easily accessible drawer so it can be found by the burglar. This will tell him that most of your assets are stored at the bank.
  • Safes are generally not a good idea. If it’s a portable one, the burglar will just carry it with him. If it’s non-portable and looks impressive enough, he might be tempted to wait for you to come home and force you to open it at gunpoint.
  • When you choose a hiding place, think like a burglar. The box stashed way back in your closet might be inconvenient for you to get to, but it’s one of the places where a thief would look first. In case of an intruder who’s also a drug addict, he would likely search your toilet tank, cereal boxes, the refrigerator and freezer, and the medicine cabinet.
  • If you have children, consider hiding some cash away in their room (here, messiness actually works in your favor), maybe even inside a toy. Burglars usually won’t look for valuables there. Other good hiding places are the underside of trash cans, laundry detergent boxes or bottles, empty soup cans, etc. Just make sure, warns the conman, that those “false packages” are in the appropriate spot, that is, in the laundry room or pantry.
  • Gross or clever? If you can get past the “yuck factor,” you can purchase a so-called “Brief Safe” that looks like badly stained underwear and can be kept at the bottom of a bedroom closet or in the laundry basket. The skid mark safe contains a small pocket to insert money, and–a burglar agrees–it is unlikely that any burglar will touch it!
  • Light up the rooms. Plug timers into electric outlets to automatically turn lights and radios on and off. But, be warned, timers that flick on 4 different lights at exactly 7:00pm on the dot every night is predictable, and a sure sign no one is home. Be sure to set those timers at different intervals during the evening, and at odd times in the hour.
  • Become Alarmed! Most burglars are deterred by homes with burglar alarm systems. Those that aren’t afraid of them know they only have a couple minutes before the police arrive.
  • Avoid Facebook Bragging. Don’t advertise a new TV, vacation plans, expensive jewelry, etc on any social media sites. It is easier than you think for burglars to track down your address.
  • License and Registration, Ma’am. We all know we must keep our registration and proof of insurance in our car. However, we learned its better to NOT keep that in your car. Keep the original in your home, and always carry a copy in your wallet or purse. That information is very valuable to thieves to SELL and STEAL your identity!!!
  • Don’t leave mail in your car. This is two-fold. One: your mail provides the address to your home, and most likely a garage door opener is attached to your visor, giving a burglar directions and an open invitation. Two: your car being parked at the grocery store, the mall, work, etc. is a sure sign to a burglar you AREN’T home!
  • GPS Systems are a tempting item. Not only is this a high ticket item often left in plain view in the car, many people store their own addresses in their GPS units under the title “Home”. But if the device is stolen, the thief can quickly use the info to find your house, break in and loot it before you return. Storing those directions under a decoy like your pet’s name, can help prevent this.
  • Secure your garage. If you have windows in your garage, keep these covered so burglars can’t see if your car is gone. More importantly, always lock and secure the windows and the door from your garage to your house. As we previously mentioned, burglars can easily steal garage door openers, or kick in the side door. Once inside the garage, they usually just walk right into your home through the door.
  • Support each other. Become a court advocate. Court advocate volunteers provide support for victims and witnesses who may be hesitant to testify in court. The presence of Court Advocacy volunteers from their community can make the difference in whether a victim or witness decides to appear in court, and sends a strong message to the defendant, the judge and all other interested parties in the criminal justice system: the community cares about the outcome of these cases and is willing to devote its time and energies to monitoring the workings of the judicial system.

To read more tips, read our past blogs about burglary awareness and also 21 Things A Burglar Won’t Tell You!

Have questions about security? VinTech’s knowledgeable consultants will help answer any question or concern you have about security!