Burglars Reveal What Makes Certain People Easy Targets

If you’ve just moved home, securing your new place should be your top priority. And even if you haven’t, it’s worth making sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your belongings from burglars. That means avoiding the common pitfalls that leave you open to opportunistic passers-by. These range from subtle signs that nobody’s home, to obvious indicators of what’s inside.

40. Leaving your trash visible in garbage cans

Have you just splurged on a shiny new 4K TV? If so, it’s probably not a good idea to let the world know by leaving the box on display next to the rest of your trash. After all, that’s basically an open invitation to burglars to liberate you from that new purchase. The same goes for other large, expensive items, such as games consoles or laptops. In short, avoid advertising the contents of your house to anyone who walks past. Use a box cutter to break down that packaging and hide the labels instead.

39. Posting vacation pictures

We’re not saying you shouldn’t ever post your vacation selfies. After all, how else will all your friends know which exotic destinations you’ve traveled to lately? Do yourself a favor, though, and wait until you’re back home. Even if your social media profiles aren’t public, who knows which friends of friends and mutual acquaintances might end up seeing them and discovering your home is currently open for a spot of burglary?

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38. Forgetting to put your mail on hold

If you head out on vacation without putting your mail on hold, you might come back to far fewer possessions than you had when you left. An overflowing mailbox is a sure sign that nobody’s been home for a while, making your house a prime target. It doesn’t take long to halt your mail temporarily, so don’t ignore this vital part of vacation preparations.

37. Leaving kids’ toys in the yard

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Yes, this in itself is almost a guarantee that your kids will suddenly find their favorite toys have gone missing. But it’s also a sign to any potential passers-by that there may be more on offer. If your children have plenty of fancy outdoor toys, then a burglar might assume that they’ll also have the latest games console inside. And that could certainly make you a target.

36. Letting newspapers and flyers build up

If you’re prone to leaving newspapers and flyers uncollected, it could be a sign to burglars that nobody’s home. Don’t put off bringing them into the house, then, or simply recycle unwanted leaflets straight away. And if you’re going on vacation, make sure to ask a trusted friend or family member to pop over regularly to pick them up.

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35. Forgetting to lock your door

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This may seem like an obvious one, but we’re not just talking about when you leave the house. It’s actually a good idea to lock your door at all times, even while you’re at home, and especially if you’re not in the vicinity of the entrance. Indeed, according to home security website SafeAtLast, one in every 25 burglars simply walks through an open door.

34. Leaving your windows open

Sure, you might save a few dollars on your electricity bills by cracking a window instead of running your air conditioning. But if a burglar decides that the open aperture is a prime entry point to your home, those savings could quickly be eradicated. That’s especially true, of course, for openings on the first floor. But, if you have high walls surrounding your property, even those on upper floors could be a target.

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33. Having an open backyard

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A fence-less backyard is practically an open invite for burglars, because it makes getting on to your property very easy. And if your house backs on to woods, that increases the danger. Indeed, those trees will likely make great cover for someone not wanting to be seen. Solve both problems by putting up a fence or wall around your backyard.

32. Using a window A/C unit

Yes, window air conditioning units are ideal for cooling specific areas of your home. But they’re also a prime target for burglars, who could easily pull them out or knock them aside to get through the hole left behind. If in doubt, only use them on higher, less accessible windows, or plump for an indoor standing fan instead. Otherwise, you could be making yourself an easy mark.

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31. Leaving expensive stuff on view

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Recently splurged on a brand new laptop or games console? Don’t leave them on show to the world. That probably sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget to tidy things away, or put them out of sight of your windows. According to SafeAtLast, more than half of burglaries are planned out beforehand. So, don’t make a would-be thief’s job easier by displaying what’s up for grabs in your house.

30. Forgetting to lock the garage door

While you’re locking and securing your front and back doors, don’t forget about the other potential entry points around your house. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that around nine percent of burglars enter through a garage door. You’ll want to make sure, then, to lock both the main door, as well any in the garage. And don’t forget those that lead into the backyard.

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29. Leaving spare keys in obvious places

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Placing a spare key under the doormat or inside a nearby plant pot might seem like a savvy way to ensure you never get locked out. It is, however, also ensuring that someone else can get in. Indeed, cliché hiding spots, such as above your porch light, will likely be the first places burglars check. Really, there’s nowhere around your main door that’s going to be safe for a key. So, it’s best just to avoid the practice altogether.

28. Forgetting to keep up appearances

Going on vacation? Don’t let potential burglars know. If your blinds are normally left open during daylight hours, but permanently closed while you’re away, anyone casing your house is going to realize something’s different. Ideally, ask a trusted friend, neighbor or family member to pop over and adjust them every day. At the very least, if left partially open, they’ll give the impression someone’s home. And they’ll also mask most of your interior from view.

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27. Leaving animal entrances unsecured

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Do you have a pet door? If so, don’t presume that humans can’t also get through it. After all, not every burglar is a hulking mass of muscle. For instance, in April 2019 a home security camera captured footage of a thief crawling through the doggy door of a home in Oregon. Electronic pet entrances are a good alternative, as they can only be opened by a microchip in the animal’s collar. But, in the end, a simple lock is the most foolproof solution.

26. Leaving fresh snow

Even if you take all necessary precautions when going out of town, the weather can still interrupt your best-laid plans. If it snows, for instance, a lack of footprints in your driveway is a dead giveaway that nobody’s home. Whether you’re 50 or 5,000 miles away, then, keep an eye on your local weather forecast. And during snowy weather, just ask a neighbor or family member to put some tracks around your house.

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25. Placing your alarm controls behind glass doors

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Glass doors aren’t exactly energy efficient. But beyond that, they’re also – quite literally – a window into your home. And as control pads for alarm systems are typically installed near entranceways, you may be giving potential burglars a look at your security setup. If you have non-frosted glass anywhere near the front of your home, then, make sure to install the alarm controls out of sight.

24. Leaving your blinds open at night

Letting some light into your house during the day is all well and good. But if you choose to leave your blinds open once the sun’s gone down, and your lights are turned on, then you’re essentially illuminating the contents of your house for anyone to see. Indeed, it’s difficult to think of a more obvious way to advertise your belongings to burglars.

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23. Forgetting to secure your patio doors

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Depending on the size of your house, there may be more possible entry points for burglars than first spring to mind. For example, your patio doors could be particularly easy to break into if not secured beyond their original locks. For best results, fit a multi-locking system, and use anti-lift measures to ensure the doors can’t simply be hoisted off their tracks.

22. Storing your garage door clicker in your car

Having someone break into your car is a problem. But there’s no need to let it turn into an even bigger issue by also giving the thief access to your home. To that end, then, don’t leave the remote for your garage door inside your vehicle. Instead, invest in a remote on a keychain. As long as you have your car keys, you’ll always have access to your garage, so you don’t need to worry about forgetting it. And you’ll also ensure nobody else can use your automobile to break into your property.

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21. Letting your flowers wilt

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When preparing the list of things for your neighbors and family members to take care of while you’re out of town, don’t forget about your flowers. They’re easily overlooked while you’re concerning yourself with the mail, your pets and any other essentials for keeping up appearances. But whether visible indoors, or out in your garden, wilted plants are a surefire sign that a house is unoccupied.

20. Neglecting your lawn

Even if you haven’t gone on vacation, poor lawn up-keep could tell burglars that something’s amiss. Avoid giving them an excuse to investigate further, then, by maintaining your greenery, or hiring someone to do so. And it almost goes without saying that you should definitely arrange for someone to tend your lawn if you’re going away for an extended period of time.

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19. Leaving a dim light on

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Leaving your lights on a dim setting at night can give the illusion that someone’s home. But what happens when that low illumination continues during daylight hours? A burglar’s probably going to notice. So, if you want to create the impression of business as usual while on vacation, you may want to invest in a remotely-operated lighting system.

18. Letting bushes overgrow

This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining your lawn, of course, but giving the impression someone’s home isn’t the only reason you should keep on top of your bushes. Indeed, if you let them grow out of control, you’re simply giving potential thieves another hiding spot to plan their raid. Not only will your yard look better with properly trimmed greenery, then, but there’s also a security benefit.

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17. Leaving obvious signs of your home business around

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If you run a home business, take extra care not to leave any tells around your house. You don’t need obvious signage for a burglar to realize what might be inside. Indeed, even delivery boxes left piled up outside your property could clue them in. And considering working from your house could mean you have plenty of assets, cash or stock on the premises, a break-in could also jeopardize your livelihood.

16. Leaving stools in your backyard

According to home security company Reolink, over a fifth of burglars access their victims’ houses through first-floor windows. You don’t want to make it any easier for them to reach those openings, then, by leaving stools lying around your backyard. After all, you would essentially be giving the thief a stepping stone into your property. Instead, remember to tidy away any seats or ladders you’re not currently using.

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15. Leaving the radio on

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Much like leaving your lights dimmed, a constantly playing radio is only going to make it more obvious nobody’s home. Putting it on a timer might help, but if a burglar cases your house for a few days, they might notice the precise timing. You’ll have much better results by simply asking someone you trust to look after your house while you’re away.

14. Keeping keys on a hook near the door

Keeping your keys near the door might be convenient for you, but it’s just as handy for criminals. And if they’re already on a hook, then they’re also open to being landed by an intrepid burglar with some thick wire. There’s no need to make things even easier for thieves, so leave your keyring where it can’t be easily accessed.

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13. Inviting round neighbors and friends of friends

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Just because your friends trust their friends, doesn’t mean you can. Even if they aren’t looking to burgle you, they could easily discuss your possessions with someone who is on the look-out for an easy score. So, if you’re having a house party and expecting guests you barely know, here’s a top tip. Make sure to hide away your most valuable goods, such as laptops and jewelry.

12. Leaving tools out

It’s not just stools in your backyard that could help wannabe burglars gain access to your house. Indeed, any kind of tools are going to make their job easier, particularly if they can use them to quietly pick the lock on your door. It’s always good practice to tidy away your belongings from your yard. But you should be especially diligent about doing so where equipment is involved.

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11. Leaving a house empty after a death

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There are lots of telltale signs that a house is unoccupied that come with going on vacation But there’s also another major giveaway that a property is empty: The owner’s obituary is published in the local newspaper. If details of the funeral are publicized, maybe ask a friend to watch the deceased’s home on the day. After all, you never know who might be reading the obituaries.

10. Having a predictable schedule

You might think that most burglaries happen under the cover of darkness, but you’d be wrong. In fact, according to SafeAtLast, 65 percent of burglaries occur during daylight hours. That’s because there’s less chance of a thief getting caught while everyone’s at work. If you regularly leave your house unoccupied between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., that’s something a burglar casing the place is likely to pick up on.

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9. Not having outdoor lights

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If your house is shrouded in darkness, a burglar is likely going to have an easier time breaking in. After all, even if someone walks by while they’re mid-crime, all they have to do is hide in the shadows, and nobody will ever know they’re there. Placing a few lights around the exterior of your property, then, could help deter thieves.

8. Having lots of bushes and foliage

Even if you keep your bushes neatly trimmed, having too many could still provide adequate cover for any potential burglars. For instance, if you have greenery near your windows, then a thief could happily take their time breaking in, because they know it’s less likely they’ll be seen. Having some foliage around your front lawn no doubt looks attractive. It’s not a good idea, however, to go overboard.

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7. Announcing your vacation plans

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Posting your vacation plans on any social network is already a no-go, regardless of your visibility settings. You shouldn’t, however, stop at online announcements. Indeed, chatting with friends, family and colleagues could open all kinds of doors to wily thieves. And to prove that, according to U.S. Department of Justice figures, more than 60 percent of break-ins are committed by someone the victim knows personally.

6. Forgetting to maintain your home security system

Obviously, installing a home security system is a good idea. But if you don’t look after it, a burglar will probably be able to tell. There are plenty of potential signs, including broken lighting, rusting alarm boxes or cameras that have clearly been self-installed. Keep criminals on their toes, then, and make sure the equipment is well-maintained. All that effort will ensure a greater chance of capturing evidence should the worst happen. But it’s mere presence will hopefully deter burglars from attempting to break in at all.

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5. Taking no precautions after being burgled

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If a burglar has managed to break into your house once already, chances are they’re going to try again. After all, they already know all the best entry points. And, according to Reolink, more than half of homes burgled experience a repeat incident less than a month later. So if you do find yourself victim to this crime, step up your security. Otherwise you might find yourself in the same situation all too soon.

4. Forgetting to change the locks after moving in

If you’ve just moved into a new house, make sure you replace the locks. Why? Because you never know who might still have a key to their old place. Sure, there’s no way to know whether they would ever be so unscrupulous as to return, but there’s also no telling whether that key could fall into the wrong hands. It’s far better to eliminate all doubt by simply changing your locks. That way, you’ll know exactly who has access to your house.

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3. Not having a dog

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There are myriad reasons to introduce a pooch into your life. There are, of course, the usual benefits of companionship and exercise, but don’t forget that it could also be a great burglar deterrent. You don’t even need a huge, ferocious dog, either. Indeed, any pup that doesn’t take well to strangers will be effective. Once it starts barking, a thief isn’t likely to stick around.

2. Having poor security locks

Changing your locks alone, however, may not be enough to keep savvy, experienced burglars out of your home. To make sure things are really secure, opt for the tougher, anti-snap type of locks, which are specifically designed to stop thieves from breaking them. And if you’re prone to forgetting to secure your entrance, mortice locks are your friend. That’s because, as soon as the door closes, you’ll need a key to reopen it.

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1. Having no motion-activated lighting

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Installing outdoor lighting is all well and good on its own. However, you could run up a massive electricity bill if it needs to be manually switched on. Opt for motion-activated lighting around the exterior of your home instead. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but a light suddenly turning on could also startle any would-be burglar.

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