I have no social media accounts; all purported ones are fake.

What’s the best way to stop a burglar? Why not ask a few and find out?

What’s the best way to stop a burglar? Why not ask a few and find out?


Wikimedia Commons


There is something to be said for knowing your enemy.

Imagine if you knew that tomorrow you’d be the victim of a crime. Let’s further say that you knew where it was to happen, how it was to happen, and at what time it was going to happen. Don’t you think that just might give you an edge in preparing?

Of course it would. That’s the value of information, and a recent book called Burglars on the Job by Richard Wright has a lot of data about how burglars go about their work. Greg Ellifritz over at Active Response Training recently reviewed Wright’s work and gleaned some interesting facts. Let’s look at a few and see how they might help us in preventing or mitigating a residential burglary.

Item: “Burglars are not motivated, career oriented individuals. Their burglaries are conducted to fulfill an immediate need for cash, usually to support a drug habit.”
Lesson: This explains why the simple things like motion sensing lights, dogs, alarms and secure locks tend to deter most burglaries. Naturally nothing is certain, but when you’re dealing with this type of low-level criminal the little things make big differences. Make them work for the prize and they’ll go someplace where they don’t have to work as hard. Don’t believe that? One of the items in the list Ellifritz cites indicates that two-thirds of the crooks interviewed said that they wouldn’t target a house that had a burglar alarm under any circumstances. The old trick of getting some alarm company signs and posting them on the property would seem to be validated!

Item: “90% of burglars knew their victims, at least in a peripheral manner.”
Lesson: This is an important one. We all have that acquaintance or relative who is just a little ‘sketchy’, who can’t necessarily be trusted with the family silver. These are the people to whom you need to restrict access to your home. Even if they wouldn’t initiate a crime on their own, they’ll have friends who will. Be careful who you talk to and who you invite over for that get-together!

This is also a warning about your children. Kids have a tendency to talk to other kids about what they have at home or what they do on their weekends. If you have guns in your house, for instance, it’s pretty hard to keep the kids from talking to their classmates about them. Again, it’s not just the kids you need to think about but their associates and relatives as well: that kid you don’t quite trust is likely to have a brother who you definitely wouldn’t trust, and you can bet that whatever your teenager has told his friend the brother now knows, too. The more tactical types in the crowd call this ‘OPSEC’ — short for ‘operational security’, which  means that you keep information as confidential as you possibly can. Counsel your kids not to talk to their friends about attractive things like guns, jewelry, or money you might have in the house. (Don’t for a minute think that because your kids go to a good school there aren’t drug addicts in their circle of acquaintances, and news of valuables travels quickly in such crowds.)

Item: “Burglars are very scared of armed homeowners. Before breaking in, burglars will call on the phone or knock on the door to make sure no one is home. After getting in, the first action they take is to do a quick “sweep” of the house to make sure it is unoccupied.”
Lesson: Crooks are human beings who make risk/benefit analyses very quickly. They may not know that’s what they’re doing, and they might not even understand the terms, but all humans make them all the time. Criminals, at least those who are reasonably successful at what they do, are very good at avoiding risk — if not of capture, at least of bodily harm. The armed homeowner raises that risk substantially, especially because they’re ‘loose cannons’; the crooks know that the cops have rules of engagement, but they can’t trust that the guy in the house with the shotgun is going to play by the same rules. It’s easier to simply make sure that no one is around who might perforate them.

Item: “93% of burglars tried to get in and out of the house as quickly as possible.”
Lesson: Do anything to slow a burglar down. As many people will tell you, if someone wants in badly enough they’ll find a way; that may be true, but the longer it takes them to get in the less badly they’re going to want to get in. Door and window reinforcements and good locks (they don’t need to be pick-proof, but they do need to be bump-resistant) take time to bypass, which is time vast majority of burglars don’t have (or don’t want to spend.) Again, they’re going to make that risk/benefit calculation: “is what I’ll find in this house worth the time I’m exposed to capture?” Make them believe that it’s not.

Item: “Burglars first went to the master bedroom looking in dressers closets and around beds for cash, jewelry and guns. After that, they went to the bathroom to steal prescription drugs from the medicine cabinet. Before they left the house, they checked the living room for small electrical appliances.”
Lesson: hiding things under the mattress, in your underwear drawer or on the shelf in the closet probably isn’t a good idea. At the same time, Ellifritz reports that crooks typically don’t check children’s rooms or basements; if you need to store things, the cellar would appear to be a good choice.

Protecting yourself from burglars is partly a matter of thinking like they do. Books like this one may be dry, but when you look carefully you’ll find a picture of your enemy and the means to defeat him.

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On February 18, 2015

Leave Reply