13 Things a Burglar Doesn’t Want You to Know

The information for this comes from crime experts and convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky. Here’s what a burglar won’t tell you:

1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

3. Love the flowers — they tell me you have taste, and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door — understandable. But I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters — don’t take me up on it.

10. I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. However, I almost never go into kids’ rooms.

12. I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. You can also buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a television.



  1. Gary Keith Chesterton

    When I was in college, many years ago, I listened to a fascinating talk by a paroled burglar who, as part of the terms of his parole, had to travel around to community groups and explain to people how to protect themselves from guys like him. He said there are three things that burglars don't like: Lights, locks that take time to open, and dogs. Having any one of those things decreases your chances of getting hit. If you have all three, the burglar is going to find a different, easier target.

  2. Fr. Philip Powell, OP

    An English Dominican friar asked me once if I owned a gun. I said that I didn't, but that my dad owned lots of them. He asked if I would actually shot someone with one. I'm afraid I shocked him when I said, "If you're in my house, trying to steal something or hurt a member of my family–damn right, I'd shoot you!" Oh, those American barbarians!! Fr. Philip, OP

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