What Residents Should Know About Criminals Who Commit Burglary and Home Invasions

It's a scene millions of people return home to every year. The entire house is ransacked. Clothes, books, and other contents from drawers, shelves, and tabletops are scattered across the floor of every room. Furniture is overturned, and various electronics and other valuables are missing. Fortunately, the homeowners were not at home when the crime occurred. Everyone in the family is safe. But not all residents are so lucky.

In a Local 4 news report out of Inkster, Michigan, a woman, her 19-year-old son, and her fiancé were held at gunpoint during a home invasion involving three armed men. With three other children still asleep upstairs, both parents feared the worst as two of the men roamed about and ransacked the residence. While no one was hurt, it will take the victims a long time to overcome the terrifying event.

In an ABC 30 Action News report out of Fresno, California, an elderly man and his wife were terrorized for hours after their home was invaded by five armed men disguised as law enforcement officers. During the home invasion, the victims were tied up with zip ties. The wife suffered a serious blow to the head, and her husband had his head dunked under water several times. The suspects ransacked the entire home before leaving with their stolen items.

The Criminals Behind Burglary and Home Invasion Crimes

Having their home invaded by armed intruders was the last thing the victims in the above stories expected. And this is exactly why many home invasion criminals choose this approach.

Many residents let their guard down when they are at home. Alarm systems are deactivated, windows are opened, and doors are left unlocked. This false sense of security combined with the fear tactics brazen home intruders use to manipulate their victims make getting their hands on cash and other valuables very easy.

For burglars who prefer to break into homes while the residents are gone, these criminals rely on the common mistakes that many residents make in terms of their home security. Various clues also help would-be intruders identify homes to burglarize.

Everyday Citizen or Common Criminal? Don’t Be Fooled by a Person's Appearance

If you think you can identify a criminal by their physical appearance or behavior, think again. Not all criminals look or act like the scary thugs characterized on TV. Many come across as everyday citizens within our communities. Some pass themselves off as polite solicitors for various charities and businesses. Others come disguised as respected police officers, public utility workers, and even home security professionals.

It is also not uncommon for a burglar or other criminal to hold a job with a local business that you and many other residents invite into their homes. Businesses that provide residential services such as carpet cleaning, home repair, maid services, and gardening afford excellent opportunities for employed criminals to assess and select homes to burglarize.

When it comes to figuring out who the bad guys are, the truth of the matter is that you can't. Every person that comes knocking at your door is either who they say they are or NOT. There's no in between. When you assess people based on this "either/or" premise—the person at my door is either an innocent solicitor or a thug posing as a solicitor—taking a "better safe than sorry" approach makes a lot of sense.

For example, if you allow your mind to entertain the possibility that the stranger at your door may be a common criminal who's casing the neighborhood for homes to burglarize; you will not take any chances. Instead, you will do what trusted home security experts such as myself advise—you will keep your door locked and ignore the stranger.

What Burglars and Home Invasion Criminals Look for When Targeting Homes

A certain amount of time and thought goes into carrying out a burglary or home invasion. Criminals who carry out these crimes typically spend time casing the neighborhoods in search of prime targets. Some of the things they pay attention to include:

  • Vehicles: A homeowner that drives an expensive vehicle likely owns other fine goods worth a lot of money. The more you invest in your personal possessions, the more enticing your home is to burglars and home invasion criminals.
  • Landscaping: Landscaping can also say a lot about a resident's financial status and tastes. Custom walkways, patios, fountains, and exotic gardens tell would-be intruders that the homeowner is well off. On the other hand, a poorly kept lawn can mean the home is occupied by a single mom or an elderly resident—both are easy targets in a criminal's mind.
  • Solicitations. One of the ways burglars determine which houses are unoccupied during the day is by the flyers, door hangers, and other printed solicitations left on their door. Some will even leave fake solicitations on your door just to see how long it takes you to remove them. Newspapers and solicitations that remain uncollected for days can signal that the homeowner is away on vacation or a business trip—an ideal time for a burglar to break in.

Burglary and Home Invasion Prevention Tips

Today's crime reports provide excellent learning opportunities for residents looking to learn more about burglary and home invasions and how to prevent them. In addition to explaining how the criminals behind these crimes gain entry into their victims' homes, they reveal the common mistakes residents make in terms of their home security.

Fortunately, you don't have to read through these tragic stories day after day to learn this important information. To decrease your risk of becoming the focus of a local crime report, all you have to do is read the following burglary and home invasion prevention tips and put them to work for you.

  • NEVER open your door to a stranger!
  • Keep your windows and doors locked at all times—even when you're home.Close your curtains and blinds when you are away from home and before you go to sleep at night.
  • Increase the security around your entry doors and windows. Don't rely on locked doors and windows as your only means of home security. Increasing the security around your home's doors and windows does not have to be expensive—just effective. Home security devices such as the OnGARD Security Door Brace and BurglarGARD's Do-It-Yourself Window Protection Film Kits offer excellent protection against the common methods burglars and home invasion criminals use to force their way through locked doors and windows. These inexpensive devices have the potential to save your life!
  • Give the impression that someone is home—even when you're not. Leave a radio or TV on loud enough to hear from outside your front door. Look into the various devices and apps that allow lights and TVs to be turned on and off remotely using a smart phone or computer, and put them to use.
  • Keep your door clear of solicitations.Place a sign in your front yard and/or on your front door that says "No Solicitors." If solicitations continue to be left at your door, remove them as soon as possible. If you work or are away from home on a routine basis, ask a trusted neighbor to clear your door of solicitations for you.
  • Keep your wallet, purse, car keys, and cell phone in the same room with you when you sleep. Never leave these items out in the open in another room.
  • If you keep cash, expensive jewelry, firearms, or other items that hold significant monetary or sentimental value to you in your home, invest in a safe that can be securely fastened to the floor or wall, or that is too heavy to move with brute strength. In addition, install a cheap diversion safe and keep some fake jewelry and a small amount of cash in it. Make sure to place the diversion safe in a location that is easily found by an intruder. The main safe, of course, should always be well hidden.
  • One of the best ways to ensure your home is adequately protected against burglars and violent home invasion criminals is to have a home security inspection performed. In addition to identifying the vulnerable areas of your home's security, a certified home inspector can teach you how to decrease your risk of being targeted in the first place.

Take the Next Step in Home Security—Apply What You've Learned

When it comes to home security, what you don't know can hurt you. By taking the time to read this article, you've taken an important step in increasing your knowledge about burglary and home invasions. The next step is to apply what you've learned to your own home security. In doing so, you'll decrease your risk of becoming the victim of these crimes, and enjoy greater peace of mind.

Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.

Mr. Frankel is a proud member of:

The American Society for Industrial Security.

The International Association for Counter Terrorism & Security.

The Society of Professional Locksmiths.