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21/9/2015

10WaystoBreakIntoaHouseHowStuffWorks

10WaystoBreakIntoaHouse
byDeniseHarrison

10WaystoBreakIntoaHouse
Whenwethinkofaburglar,wethinkofastereotypicalskimaskedmandressedheadtotoeinblack,croucheddown,
creepinginthedeadofnight,carryingaprofessionalbreakinartist'sidealtoolkit.Ascommonaculprit,however,isthe
averagelookingpersondressedinaveragestreetclothesonyouraverageworkday,enteringviaanunlockeddoorora
brickinducedholeinaglassdoor.
There'snotimeofdayinwhichyourhomeisimmunefromburglariestherearenostandardsofpracticewhenitcomes
Therearemanywaysforpeopletobreak
intoyourhome.Knowinghowit'sdone
canhelpyoupreventthemfrom
succeeding.
Comstock/Thinkstock

tohowaburglarbreaksin.Ofthereported2millioncommercialandresidentialburglariesreportedtotheU.S.
DepartmentofJusticein2009,most(61percent)wereforcibleentry.32.6percentofburglarsfoundtheeasywayin,
andthebalancerepresentedfoiledattempts[source:U.S.DepartmentofJustice].
Ifyourhomeisburgled,thefinanciallossesyou'llsustainarebadenough.Thetraumaanduneaseinitsaftermath,
however,isabellthatcan'tbeunrung,andmanyburglaryvictimsneveragainfeelsafeintheirownhomes.

Thebestwaytohandleburglarsistopreempttheirplanswithprovenpreventivemeasures.Burglarslookfor,andsometimescreate,specificcharacteristicsand
situationswhenchoosingwhereandhowtobreakin.Inthesectionstocome,wewilllookatwhatstampsabull'seyeonyourhome,methodsusedforbreakinsand
21stcenturytoolsthatburglarsuseforfindingtheirnextvictims.

10:FindanIdealTarget
Burglarsaren'tgoingtobotherwithtargetstheydon'tthinkwillallowthemtogetinandoutundetected,lootrich.Ideal
targetsarehomeswithindicationsnoonewillreturnsoon.Aplasticwrappedphonebookleftalldayonadriveway,a
noteleftonafrontdoorforanafternoonpackagedeliverytheseareexamplesofthetypesofthingsburglarslookfor.
Signsoflifearelikelytoputoffwouldbethieves.Theycanbefooledbystrategiclightingandloudbroadcasts(radios
consumelessenergythanTVs,andtalkshowssoundlikeconversationsinthehome).Atnight,lightsandaradioor
Takeprecautionstoavoidleavingsigns
thatyou'renotathome.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

TVontimerskeephomeslookingoccupiedintotheweehours,deterringburglarsandkeepingfamiliessaferlongafter
bedtime.
Boldburglarspeerthroughwindowshopingtospysilverservices,plasmaTVsandbaseballcardcollections.Best
bets:Movevaluablesoutofsight,andkeepstashessafebyclosingwindowcoveringswhileaway.

Tokeepahousesafewhileonvacation:
Placelightsontimers.Lightsburning24/7scream,"Emptyhouse!"
Askneighborsorfriendstoperformdailychecksandcollectnewspapersandmail.
Givenlastnames,anyonecanfindmostphonenumbers.Namesonmailboxesandunretrievedpackagesencouragepossiblethievestoparkoutside,dialthe
numberandseeifsomeonepicksup.Anytimethehousewillbeempty(vacations,workdays),bestusecallforwardingsosomeonealwaysanswers.

9:RemainInconspicuous
Mostburglarsaren'tlookingfortrouble.Thetypicalburglaravoidsconfrontation,hasscantinterestinanarrestand
fearsphysicalharm.Homeownerscanusetheseconcernstotheiradvantage,usinglighting,alarmsanddogsto
discouragethievesfrombreakingin.
Afterdark,thebestfirstdefenseforsinglefamilyhomesislighting,andlotsofit.Whileinteriorlightingimpliespeople
arehome,blazingexteriorlightsdiscourageacloserlook.Undeterreddaredevilsmaydashtowardsidesorbackdoors
Addingfloodlightingtoyourhomeisa
goodwaytodissuadethievesfrom
breakingin.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

obscuredfromview.Thosehiddenareas,characteristicofhousesatendsofculdesacs,arebestsecuredwithbright
lightsandextrasecuritymeasuresondoorsandwindows.Motionsensorlightssaveenergycostsanddeliver
effective,fleeinspiringstartlestojumpycriminals.
Next,implyathreat.Lawnsandwindowsignsadvertisingalarmsystemsdetermanybreakinattempts.Should

burglarsignorewarnings,theresultingsirenswillpromptquickandpossiblyemptyhandedexits.
Thethirdlineofdefense(andoneofthebest)isthebarkingdog.Dogschainedoutsideinafencedyardsofferlittlethreat.Burglars'encounterswithunanticipated
indoorcanines,however,addfactorsoutofburglars'control.Notimeorenergyforpets?Manyhomeownersswearbytheirfakefourleggedfriends.Imagineamotion
sensortriggeringabrightlightaccompaniedbytheloudbarkingofuptofiveangrydogs.
Everwonderhowburglarsactuallyenterhomes?Next,welookatthenumberonepointofentry.
HOUSEKEYINAHAYSTACK
Ifyoumusthideasparekey,trythis:Thekey
underyourflowerpotopensastorageshedon
yourneighbor'sproperty.Amongthemanyitems
insidetheshedistoolbox,atthebottomofwhich

8:FindaGoodOpening
Warmspringdaysandcrispfallairmakeopenwindowsirresistibleespeciallytoburglars.Thievesthink
nothingofwalkingthecircumferenceofyourhome,tryingeachdoor,windowandcellaropeninguntilone

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10WaystoBreakIntoaHouseHowStuffWorks

areadozenspareandrandomkeys,oneofwhich
opensyourhome.Thekeyunderyourflowerpotis
unlikelytobetriedontheneighbor'sshed.Your
keyishiddenamongwhatappearstobeapileof
oldsparekeys,whicharetypicallydeemedold
keysofunknownorigins.Yourkey,hiddeninthis
fashion,isnotlikelytobelinkedtoyourhouseand
providesaneffective,albeittimeconsuming,
methodforhidingasparekey.

relentstopryinghands.Ofcourse,firstfloorwindowsanddoorsaremoresusceptible,butclimbabletreesand
tablesusedasmakeshiftladdersplacesecondfloorwindowsinasmuchrisk.
Evenwhenhome,familiesshouldensuretheirdoorsandwindowsareclosedandlockedunattendedordark
partsoftheoccupiedhomesarevulnerable.Considerbustlingdiningroomsandkitchensduringdinners,when
secondfloorscanbecometargetsforquietburglars.Orconsiderthedarksecondstorybedroomwhere
someoneissleepingnearawideopenwindow.
Moreabouteasyentries:

Knoblocksareeasilyjimmiedusingcreditcardsdeadboltlocksaren't.Alldoorsneeddeadbolts.
Awordabouthidingsparekeys:don't.Burglarsknowtoexamineflowerpots,ledgesandbushes.Besttostashsparekeysisinthehandsofneighbors.
Heavyrodsintrackspreventopeningofslidingglassdoorsfully.Otherprofessionallyinstalledmechanismspreventtamperingwithscrewsthatsecuredoorsand
frames.
Burglarsbreakwindows,sokeepyardsfreeofbricksandheavyrocks.
Securitycompaniescanhelpwithkickresistantdoors,windowmechanismsthatlimitopeningsandbreakresistantglass.
Checkaccesswhenworkersleave.Evenwithanalarm,workersmayopendoorsorwindowsfromtheinsideinpreparationforalaterbreakin.

7:FindaPlacetoHide
Evenwiththebrightestoflights,fullgrownshrubberyandthicktreesnearhousesconcealstealthyburglars.Tall,
densegreenerynearhomeallowsburglarstoremainhiddenforaslongasittakestofocusonopeningwindowsor
doorsdespite,orperhapsbecauseof,thesenseofsecurityofferedbythelights.
Suchdensefloraalsoprovidesburglarswithsecretplacestowait.Ifburglarsidentifyregularfamilydeparturetimes,
theycantakecoverinthegreeneryandwaitasthesoundofthecarenginefadesinthedistance,andthenbegintheir
Largebushesbythefrontdoorgive
thievesplentyofhidingroom.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

nefariouswork.
It'sbesttokeepshrubstrimmednohigherthanthebottomofwindowsills.Thisway,burglarshavelessroomtohide,
andwillseekother,lessvisible,opportunities.

6:WaitfortheHolidays
Burglarswhoprefertoplantheirheistsinadvanceareparticularlyattentivetoseasonsandoccasions.Justbefore
Christmas,forexample,burglarslovetolookin,andthenbreakin,largepicturewindowsdisplayingdozensofpresents
underneathsparklytrees.OnDecember25thor26th,burglarsscoutcurbs,whereemptyboxesinventorypotentialloot
largescreenTVs,expensivegamesystems,packagesfromhighenddepartmentstoresandfishinggear.Totake
yourhomeoutoftherunning,leavethetree,butmovepresentsfromwindowviews.Haulthoseemptiestoapublic
trashreceptacle.
Christmaspresentsbythewindowmay
enticecrookstobreakin.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Summervacationsgetburglarsgiddy,too.Familieswhotakeprecautionstomaketheirhomeslooklivedinshould
enjoyworryfreevacations.
Othereventsfraughtwithdangersfromburglaryinclude:

HomesforsaleLockboxeshungondoorsindicatehousesarelikelyempty.Withtherighttools,burglarscanbreakinquickly.Homeownerspreferringtoskirt
thisriskmayworkwithrealtorstoeitherforegolockboxesorhangthemindiscretelocations.Duringopenhouses,visitorsshouldnotbefreetoroam,andafterthe
eventisover,realtorsandhomeownersneedtocheckthatdoorsandwindowsremainsecure.
FuneralsandweddingsLargefamilygatheringsprovideadditionalopportunitiesforburglarstoknowwhenhomeswillbeunoccupied,usuallyforhoursatatime.
Bestbet:Askneighborstohousesit,withtheircarsparkedinthedriveway,toensureitappearssomeoneishome.

5:Innovate
Determinedburglarsmayuserusestogainentryintohomesthatpromiseofbigpayouts.Theymaybesettingupto
stealimmediatelyortoscoutthepremisesforlaterbypretendingtobeautilityemployee,thecableinstallerorevena
policeofficer.Homeownersshouldaskforidentification,andthencallthecompanyoragencytoverifythatthevisitis
official.(Usethenumberlistedonyourbilldon'ttrustanumberthevisitorprovides.Theircousincouldbetheone
answeringthephone.)
Burglarsposingasdeliveryormoving
professionalscanconvinceneighborsthat
they'reonthelevel.
Hemera/Thinkstock

Acommonruseisposingasdeliveryormovingcompanies.Thisishighlyeffective,sincemostneighborswillnot
questionalargevaninthedrivewaywithuniformedworkerscarryingcontentsfromthehouse.Alertstayathome
neighborsthatyou'llneverhaveavanatyourhomeunlessyou'veinformedthemfirst.Theneighborwhospotssucha
vancancallyouorthepolicerightaway.

CAUGHTONCAMERA
Inmid2009,JeanneThomaswasatworkand
decidedtocheckthewebcaminherhome.
Unfortunately,asCNNreported,shesawintruders
inherhomeandcalledthepolice.Thomas
watchedasthewouldbethieveswentfromroom
toroomandwasabletotellthedispatchertheir
location.Thetwoburglarswerearrested.

4:BeCamerashy
Astuteburglarslookforsurveillancedevices.Thesethievesmayfeeleversocleverwhenspotting,then
disabling,yourabovedoorcamerabeforeitenablesidentification.
Lackofsophisticationcancomebacktohauntcockyburglarswhoassumesurveillanceislikethedaysof
yore:Recordedimagesonfilmareviewedlaterinsomeoperationcontrolroom.Notso,andsurveillanceisone
technologythatgiveshomeownersanadvantage.

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NewInternetenabledwebcamsprovidenotonlyrecordingofactivities,butrealtimemonitoring.Andtheydosousingsmall,easilyhiddendevices,whichmeans
four,fiveorsixwebcamscanbepositionedtogivedifferentviewsofthesamearea.Dummycamerasdisabledbyburglarshavenobearingonthelivewebcamsstill
hummingaway.Internetbasedsurveillancegivesownersanimmediateviewofwhatishappeningoutsideandinsidetheirhomes.Comparedtoalarmsystems,
webcamsarethenextbestthingtocatchingaburglarredhanded.Helpisaquick911callaway.

3:BePrepared
Thepolicearen'ttheonlyonesusingstakeouts.Althoughmanyburglarsareopportunisticandsimplylookforthenearest
emptyhomethatholdspromiseofundetectedentryandhighreturn,othersdotheirhomework,investinghoursstakingout
neighborhoodsorhouses.Theynotehowmanypeopleliveineachhouse,whenpeoplecomeandgo,whatcarsareusuallyin
thedrivewaysandtypicaltrafficpatterns.Thesecarefulplannersaimtoidentifyjusttherighthouseforjusttherighttime.
Observantneighborhoodsandunifiedneighborhoodwatchteamsshouldtakenoteofstrangecarswithunknownpassengers
thatkeepreturningtothearea.Callpolicetheyshouldassessthesituation.
Anotherwayburglarscomepreparedisbybringingtheirtourdeforceofthetrade:thebumpkey.Littleknowntothoseoutside
thelocksmithandburglarytrades,thebumpkeyisamasterkeynormallyusedbylocksmithstohelpthosewhohavelocked
themselvesoutoftheirownpremises.Somesaytheyopenupto90percentoftraditionallocks[source:Hundley].
Neighborhoodwatchgroupscan
helpidentifypossibleburglars.
iStockphoto.com/alptraum

Thebumpkeyisabiggerthreattodaythanever.Internetvideos,intendedtoteachlocksmiths,teachanyonehowtomake
bumpkeys.Worseyet:BurglarscanpurchasebumpkeysontheWeb.
Thegoodnewsisthathomeownerscanworkwithlocksmithstoinstalllocksthatcan'tbepickedusingstandardbumpkeys,

butcanstillbeopenedbyatrainedlocksmith.Electronickeypadlocks,too,seemtobefavoritesamongthosetryingtoevadebumpkeybandits.

2:Surfthe'Net
Partofacareerincrimeisstayingastepaheadofthosetryingtocatchthem.Justwhentheauthoritiescatchonto
onenewtrick,criminalsmoveontothenext.MessageboardsontheInternetbringtogetherlikemindedpeopleto
communicateviapostingsthey'vebecomepeereducationgroupsformanyprofessions,burglaryincluded,wherethey
mayadvancetheirknowledgetogether.
Ontheseforums,realandwouldbeburglarsdebatethebestwaystobreakintoahousehowtoquietlybreaka
TheInternetisawonderfulresearchtool
burglarsloveit.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

window,whycarding(usingacreditcardtoreleasealock)isstillthebestmethodandwhysomestillpreferthekick
inthedoorapproach.Evenretiredbreakingandenteringproschimeinwithstoriesoftheirgreatestsuccesses.
Inventivewaysofgettingpeopletoopenthedoorarediscussed,too,leadingburglarstowardthemoreseriousand
dangerouscrimeofrobbery.PosingasthehostofaTVprankshoworringingadoorbellwhileholdingalargecheckare

likelytoluresomeoneoutofthehouse.
Thelesson:Openingdoorstostrangersisgenerallyabadidea.
It'snotpossibleformosthomeownerstokeepupwiththewaysburglarstargetandbreakintohomes.Itispossible,however,toidentifyatrustedsecurityexpert
whoisknowntostayuptodateonthelatestburglarymethods.Thehomeownercaninvitetheexperttoinspectthepropertyonceayeartosuggestwhere
vulnerabilitiesmaybefurthersecured.
CASINGTHEWEB
WebsitessuchasZillow.comprovidephotosof
interiorsofhomesandneighborhoodvalues,
helpingburglarsidentifylucrativepropertiesand
becomefamiliarwithinteriorlayouts.Withonline
servicessuchasGoogleStreetView,burglarscan
identifyvulnerableareasofahomefrommiles
away.Drivinghomethepointthatit'seasytofind
outwhenpeoples'homesareemptybythetidbits
theypostonsocialmediasites,pleaserobme.com
usedtopublishtweetsandothersocialmedia
postingsthatshowedhowpeoplebroadcast
informationabouttheirlocations,trips,movie
excursionsandmore.

1:EmbraceNewTechnology
Web2.0ischangingourworldand,sadly,assistingburglarstoo.Herearesomeofthewaysburglarsexploit
newtechnologies:
Burglarslookforoversharingonline.OnFacebook,forexample,ateenmaypostaboutafamilyvacation
wherethey'regoing,whenandforhowlong.Afathermayboastabouttakingthebroodtothemovies:"We'lllet
youknowhowwelikedit!"AsingleworkingpersonmaycomplainviaTwitteraboutalonglinetobuyhot
concerttickets.
Thesepeoplehavejustinvitedburglarsintotheirhomes.Onlineprofilesoftenincludelastnamesandlocation
information,suchastheplaceapersongoestoschoolorworks.Postingarelationshipstatusletsthieves

knowhowmanypeoplearelikelytoliveinthehome.Foraburglarwillingtodohisorherhomework,socialmediacanyieldatreasuretroveofinformationabout
whenandhowlongpeoplearegoingtobeaway.
Geolocationmaybetheultimateburglarresearchtool.Theseservicesprovidefunwaystomeetpeopleandplaytreasurehunttypegames.Theabilitytotellexactly
wheretheuserisatanygivenmomentisadreamforburglars,whocanenterhomeswhilemonitoringtheowner'slocation,andwrappingupthejobwhentheservice
signalstheirreturn.
Formoreoncrimeandrelatedtopics,stealaglanceatthelinksonthenextpage.

LotsMoreInformation
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Top10SimpleWaystoDiscourageBreakins
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HomeSecurityTips
Top10WaystoCrimeproofYourHouse
MoreGreatLinks
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PreventingBurglary
HowtoStopBreakIns
Sources
BurglaryPreventionCouncil.(Nov.22,2011)http://www.burglaryprevention.org/
Camber,Rebecca."FacebookandTwitterusersfacepricierinsuranceasburglars'shop'forvictims'personaldetailsonnetworkingsites."DailyMail'sMailOnline.
Aug.27,2009.(Nov.22.2011)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article1209338/InternetshoppingburglarsFacebookTwitterusersfacepricierinsurance.html
Flam'sLock&Key."BumpKeyQuestionsandAnswers."(Nov.24,2011)http://www.flamslockandkey.com/bumpkeyquestionsandanswers.htm
Fullbright,Lori."LockBumpingHelpsCriminalsBreakIn."NewsOn6.com.April4,2009.(Nov.24,2011)http://www.newson6.com/global/story.asp?s=10240652
HumaQureshi,Huma."Tobeatbreakins,askaburglar."TheGuardian.April15,2007.(Nov.22,2011)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2007/apr/15/homeimprovements.observercashsection
Hundley,Wendy."'Bumpkey'toolallburglarsneedtostrollin."TheDallasMorningNews.TheDentonRecordChronicle.Oct.5,2007.(Nov.24,2011)
http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/100507dnmetbumpkey.3569b9d.html
Kraeutler,Tom."ProtectYourHomeFromBreakInsDuringtheHolidays."AOL.May23,2007.(Nov.22,2011)http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2007/05/23/protect
yourhomefrombreakinsduringtheholidays
McCarthy,Caroline."Alleged'Facebook'burglarsbustedinUS."ZDNet.Sept.13.2010.(Nov.22,2011)http://www.zdnetasia.com/allegedfacebookburglars
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Portland,Ore.,PoliceDepartment."KeepingYourHomeSafeFromBurglars."May27,2009.(Nov.22,2011)http://www.portlandonline.com/police/index.cfm?
a=247171&c=50412
TheSmokingGun."BurglaryLiveOntheInternet."April9,2009.(Nov.22,2011)http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/burglaryliveinternet
StateFarmInsurance."Protectyourselfagainsthomeburglary."Feb.15,2011.(Nov.22,2011)http://learningcenter.statefarm.com/residence/safety1/protect
yourselfagainsthomeburglary/
U.S.DepartmentofJustice."CrimeintheUnitedStates2009PropertyCrime."September2010.(Nov.22,2011)
http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/property_crime/index.html
U.S.DepartmentofJustice."CrimeintheUnitedStates2009Burglary."September2010.(Nov.22,2011)
http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/property_crime/burglary.html

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