VinTech attended a burglary awareness workshop last night, hosted by REAL, former burglars, all currently serving time. You may have read our previous entry about Burglary Awareness, and we have much more to share!
The seminar, led by Chicago Officer Jointer, introduced 8 former burglars, all men, ranging in age from 20s-40s. They all had one thing in common: they were ready to share their tactics, their secrets, insight, and open up about how and why they rob YOUR home.
Question 1: What kind of neighborhood do you like to target?
Answers: Quiet neighborhoods, upper to middle class. Another burglar said, “It doesn’t matter. It’s anywhere the opportunity presents itself.” Another burglar said, “It can happen to anyone, and anyone is a target. Be alert of your surroundings.”
Question 2: Did you work alone or in groups?
Answers: Most burglars worked alone because it meant less of a chance of calling attention to themselves, and getting caught. They also mentioned if you worked with someone else, it was more you had to share. However, some of the men always worked with a partner. A partner would be your lookout or drive the getaway car.
Question 3: How did you prepare for a potential home you wanted to rob?
Answers: Most of the burglars would keep an eye on your home, some for even a week to scope out your working schedule, your habits, what kind of car you drove, etc. One burglar said, “I don’t want people in the house. That turns into a totally different crime. I don’t go in with intent to harm someone.” For others, they would wait until the opportunity presents itself- whether it was a store closing, finding an unlocked car, etc. They typically waited until you had left for work.
Question 4: What was your preferred method to get into the home?
Answers: Back doors, unlocked front door or window, basement windows, windows low to the ground, garage door, side door, or kick in the front door. For commercial properties, the burglar said he would go through a duct vent. For cars, the burglar always went through the window. Why? Because a newer car alarm will NOT sound if the door handle is never touched.
Question 5: Where did you find the best stuff?
Answers: Master Bedroom, Basement, Kitchen Junk Drawers (checkbooks, credit cards), Closets, Dresser/Underwear Drawers, Under the Bed, Bathroom Cabinets, Office Desk Drawers
Question 6: What were you looking for?
Answers: Money, jewelry, guns, laptops, checkbooks, credit cards, GPS systems (lists your home address). One burglar shared a story about a child from a group of neighborhood kids that bragged their grandfather had a huge gun collection, and showed him exactly where his grandfather lived. The burglar said he would bribe the kids to steal stuff for him by giving them money.
Question 7: How are you taking the stuff from the homes?
Answers: Pillowcase, shopping bags, bags left in car, load up their car, etc.
Question 8: How did you get rid of the stuff?
Answers: They would sell it on the street, to jewelers, mostly to fence men (A “fence man” is a street person who trades in stolen items), pawn shops, electronic shops, the mob, dealers, over the Internet and even to the “average joe” (this was their fav next to the fence man). Another scary thing they shared- they love to sell your information. They could easily use your information they found for identity theft (checkbooks, credit cards, registration in your car, etc.)
Question 9: Is a privacy fence a deterrent?
Answers: NO! All the burglars said how they love the 12 ft. privacy fences. They can hide behind them, use as a shield from a nosy neighbor, help them get onto the roof, people don’t see their activity within the house, etc. They also mentioned it is easy to kick in a gate.
Question 10: Are burglar alarms a deterrent?
Answers: Surprisingly, their answers were mixed. Most said, “I don’t like alarms.” One burglar said, “Yes. They scare the hell out of me!” Another said, “They disoriented me. I don’t like how loud they are, and I don’t bother going in to the home.” Others said the alarm was just noisy and annoying. One burglar said he could be in and out of the house in 3-5 minutes. Once the alarm company called the house and no one answered, they would dispatch cops and the burglar would already be gone. Another burglar shared a story that he would call the cops and lie that a man was beating up his girlfriend at a house nearby they wanted to hit. He said the cops would respond to the domestic abuse call first before the home they broke into.
Question 11: Are dogs a deterrent?
Answers: Again, their answers were mixed. Some said, “Yes, I don’t like big dogs”. Other said it depended on the breed of the dog. But most said, it wasn’t a problem, and that dogs are timid of strangers in the house. One burglar said he brought treats, and another said he once put sleeping pills in peanut butter. Another burglar joked that if the dog was small and cute, “it is coming with me.”