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Common Tricks Burglars Use to Break Into Your House

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According to the FBI, a burglary occurs 22.6 seconds in the United States. This statistic should be alarming to everyone regardless of whether they own or rent their homes. That’s because burglars don’t discriminate between the two when targeting who to steal from.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your valuables. The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re financially protected from theft or burglary with a homeowners or renters policy. The next step is to learn how burglars break in. Once you’re equipped with that knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to prevent a future break in, burglary, or theft.

Learn everything you need to know about the most common tricks burglars use to break into your house below.


1. They Enter Through an Open, Unlocked Door

You may be surprised to learn that 85 percent of burglaries are committed by amateurs. When you think about burglar tricks, you may not consider the easiest and most obvious way to gain entry: going right through an open unlocked door, but that’s how most burglaries happen. Many Americans make the mistake of leaving their doors open or unlocked entirely. Since many burglars operate on an opportunistic basis, it’s hard to resist a property that’s sitting wide open.

To prevent home burglary, get in the habit of always closing and locking your doors when you’re not home. Admittedly, it can be tempting to leave doors unlocked if you happen to live in a relatively crime-free area, but it’s worth the additional effort. And, of course, it’s a good idea to lock those doors at night, too. And for even more security, if you’re home alone, lock your doors when you plan on taking a shower, working from home, or settling down to watch a movie. In fact, the safest approach is to keep your doors locked at all times.


2. They Look for Opportunities and Signs that You’re Not Home

Burglars want to make their task as easy as possible, so given the choice will always target an unoccupied house first. They’ll look for tell-tale signs, for example, a full mailbox or an unkept yard let’s them know you’re probably on vacation. If you’re car’s not in the driveway and they know your routine, they’ll surmise that you’re out at work or away for the day. Sometimes, they’ll pose as a maintenance worker, or carry a clipboard and ring the doorbell to see if anyone answers.

If you’re looking to keep you’re home looking lived-in when you’re away here are some tips to make it look like you never left.

  • Leave lights on timers when you’re away from home, smart bulbs can be a great way to schedule these. Or consider light sensing bulbs for your porch light which will automatically turn on when it’s dark outside.
  • Don’t post your vacation plans on social media. If you do, wait until after you’ve returned from your trip.
  • Refrain from leaving a message on your voicemail that you’re out on vacation.
  • If you’ll only be away for a short time leave the TV or a radio on.
  • Planning a trip? Ask your neighbor to collect your mail so packages and stuffed mailboxes aren’t a giveaway that you’re not in town.

3. They’ll Check First-Floor Windows

So, all your doors are securely locked. But most burglars won’t be deterred so easily. The next best thing they’ll look for is an open first-floor window. It’s very simple to slide open a window and hop right through. Often, homeowners will already have these windows propped open, which makes them a target for prowling thieves.

To avoid this type of home burglary, it’s best to keep your windows locked at night and when you’re out of the house. Just be sure to remain vigilant while they’re open during the day. It’s also a good idea to keep your window screens in good condition with no holes. If the screens are tricky to dislodge, you’ll make it more difficult for a potential burglar to access your home.


4. They’ll Go Through the Backdoor

When thinking of how to break into a house when the front door and windows are locked, what would be the next way to access the home? In most cases, the next best option is the backdoor. In fact, if your backyard gives privacy, the backdoor or a window is an even more attractive target. That’s because burglars can take the time they need to break in a back door, pick a lock, or otherwise get into your locked home without anyone noticing.

To add extra security to your backdoor consider the following measures to make this access point more secure:

  • Light up your back and side doors (interior and exterior lighting)
  • Install cameras and signage about having a video monitored area
  • Post, “Beware of dog” signs. Even if you don’t have a dog with an intimidating bark you can get a dog alarm that will simulate one
  • Install a solid wood door in place of any hollow, less secure doors
  • Never underestimate the importance of being a good neighbor. Speak with your neighbors about looking out for each others back door.

5. They Use Technology Against You

When you purchase home-safety technology, to protect you and your property, you may not expect it to get used against you. However, savvy burglars and criminals know how to make technology work against you. For instance, take garage door openers. A skilled burglar can hack a garage door within seconds. The smarter technology gets, the more sophisticated burglars and thieves become. Hackers can also get into any WiFi connected cameras, audio systems, and more. Many homeowners make the mistake of leaving the default password on their safety devices, which is like handing over the keys to your home to a thief. So be sure to password protect.

Secure your garage and beat burglars with these tips:

  • If you have windows on your garage or garage doors be sure to consider blinds or inexpensive window cling
  • Don’t keep your garage door opener in your car, that’s a key to the inside of your home. Consider a smart garage door opener or a keychain remote that you can keep with you at all times. If those devices aren’t compatible with your garage, be sure to hide any documents that may contain your home address in a more inconspicuous location.
  • Keep the door closed. It seems like a no-brainer but even when you’re working in the garage keep in mind that strangers can eye your valuable to see if your tools are worth coming back for when you’re not home. Taking the dog for a walk and guilty of leaving your garage open? Secure your doors anytime you’re not around to see who can walk right in.

6. They Use Scouting and Targeting Tactics

If you’re unfortunate enough to become a burglary victim, it’s possible that a burglar scouted out your home in advance. They may have watched your place for days to learn your patterns and habits. They may have even targeted you based on those things. Try to vary your routine and install timers on your lights if you frequently get home late, so it appears the house is occupied. Motion sensor lights installed in the front and back are an effective deterrent. Renters insurance and homeowners insurance will help protect you if your home gets burglarized. Your policy will reimburse you for anything valuable that gets stolen.  

7. They Look and Play the Part

A uniform is often the perfect cover burglars use to enter homes unnoticed. When you see a person walking up to doors in a UPS outfit, you don’t think much of it. You automatically assume that person is just a friendly mail delivery person. Burglars often dress up as mail delivery drivers, break into homes, and take valuables out of homes in boxes that look like mail packages. Any neighbor seeing a delivery person carrying a box won’t think anything suspicious is happening, so they don’t take note of the driver’s appearance. Be sure to be aware of whose walking around your neighborhood and if they are in fact who they appear to be.


How Burglars Break in and How to Protect Your Valuables

The above methods explain how burglars break in most homes, but it’s far from comprehensive. Burglars are always adapting and learning. That’s why it’s important to do what you can to stay vigilant and protect your home.

While preventing a break-in is paramount, it’s also important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your valuables. You can never be 100 percent safe and secure from burglars, but you can insure your most valuable assets to protect your future self from the financial fallout of a burglary. A good insurance plan will financially compensate you for any valuables that get stolen by circumstances outside of your control.

Are you ready to get insured? Get a free renters or homeowners quote to get a better idea of how much it would cost you to protect your property with Wawanesa.



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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.