Police in Broward County, Florida recently arrested a couple for burglary.
But this couple wasn’t breaking into homes without doing their homework.
They posed as employees of the local power company, targeting elderly victims and claiming to need to look around the property.
In some cases, one of the criminals would distract the victim while the other one looked inside the home.
In many of the cases, the thieves would come back to the home when the homeowner was gone and go right for the valuables.
One 81-year-old victim says the pair stole her wedding and engagement rings.
The couple was arrested after they victimized two other senior citizens stealing jewelry and cash.
The fact is, criminals like to case homes so they can pick an easy target, and they typically don’t want to deal with homes that have dogs or other security measures.
And while you may picture a burglar lurking in the night, a lot of break-ins occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – when people are likely to be at work or running errands.
And here’s a startling stat: 33% of burglars enter through the front door.
They want to get in quick and not draw attention to themselves by sneaking around homes, so they take the direct route, right through the front door.
Since some criminals like to do their homework to make sure the chances of getting caught are small…
Here are a few signs that a burglar might be casing your home for their next target.
Missing light bulbs:
As I mentioned, criminals don’t want to be seen.
If they plan on breaking into a home while it’s dark they might remove a light bulb beforehand.
For example, if there is an outdoor light next to your door they might remove the bulb so no one sees them fidgeting with the door.
The more a home is lit up the more likely it is that someone will see a burglar breaking in.
So, if you ever come across a missing light bulb replace it immediately and be extra cautious.
Consider installing lights that automatically turn on.
This way if you come home one evening and the lights aren’t on you will know that a bulb needs to be replaced or is missing.
Chalk markings are a popular tool in the spy business. They are a way to communicate without actually talking or seeing someone.
For example, a chalk mark could be a sign that an objective was complete.
Burglars spend time looking for the easiest targets…
And to ensure they remember what houses they have cased, they will try to leave themselves a signal.
A random chalk mark in front of your home could be this signal.
Also, like the couple mentioned in Florida, a chalk mark could be a sign to a criminal coming behind them that a specific house is a good target.
You can learn a lot about someone from their trash…
This could be something such as a note reminding them about an appointment, or it could be financial documents that can be used to steal an identity.
That’s why in law enforcement and espionage, it’s not uncommon to go through people’s trash.
But criminals know this too, which is why they sometimes rummage through your trash looking for clues of what might be in your home.
So, if you make a big purchase (such as a new computer or TV) don’t leave the empty box outside for everyone to see.
If a criminal knows you have the latest and greatest TV it could make you a hot target.
Always remember to shred important documents and even things such as a calendar.
If you go to the gym at the same time every day, this would give a burglar an easy target.
Many crimes are crimes of opportunity. The key is to make your home as unappealing as possible.
This can be done by installing a quality security system including video cameras and outdoor lighting.
A large dog bowl at your front door is also a good idea to make a burglar think twice.
And if you notice any of these signs that a criminal might be casing your home take extra steps such as adding more security cameras.
Let the bad guy know that you are on to them and that your home isn’t an easy target. They will move on if the risk of getting caught outweighs the reward.