By the time a home burglar shows up at your home, he has probably been watching you for a while.
One convicted burglar offers more insight, writing... "I always scope out the house on a three day basis so I can know when you leave and come home."
That’s just one of the very candid criminal responses to our "Home Security Survey.” Factfinder 12 sent about 300 surveys to men convicted of burglary and doing time at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. In just days, we received 10-percent back. The stories and the information these men gave us--is an insight into how a burglar's mind works.
We asked... What did you look for when searching for the perfect home to burglarize? The number one response... easy access and ease of escape. A criminal adds... "Kids toys and bicycles in (the) yard. If these things are in (the) yard, and it's a week day, most likely kids are at school and parents are at work."
That doesn't surprise our Personal Protection Expert, Joe Schillaci.
"The burglar is doing his homework. They're tracking the neighborhood. They're not just tracking one house. They're tracking the whole neighborhood,” Schillaci said.
Our survey shows... burglars break-in at any time during the day or night. But many preferred the early morning.
"After 7 a.m. Kids would be gone for school. Parents gone to work," one writes.
Most of these convicted burglars knocked on doors first. And if you are home--or someone answered? Most would have some made-up ruse ready. Some say they would make-up a name of someone they were looking for, another would ask if you had seen his dog, others would apologize and say they had the wrong address.
"When there's no answer, that's when they're going to go around the back and start trying windows and doors,” Schillaci said.
How did they break-in? Most found an unlocked door or window. The second highest response... Forced entry, like breaking a door jam or forcing the door to open.
Once inside your home-- we wanted to know where burglars went first in search of loot. Most said the master bedroom--where they're looking under mattresses, in drawers and closets. And what about the "not so obvious" places where you think you're hiding cash and jewelry? Our survey shows--your super-secret hiding place--isn't so secret.
A criminal writes, "In the sock drawers. In some cases cash is hidden in books. Just a gut feeling by the standards of how the house is designed/organized you get an intuition of where the valuables are most likely hidden."
"That's a burglar that's done quite a view. That's a step above,” Schillaci said.
One thief says he went to the kitchen... "A refrigerator is fireproof, people keep important documents like titles and personal information there."
Another says, "Bathroom drawers for jewelry or drawers that hold clothes... safes, closets, freezers, lock boxes, trunk of cars."
Your kid's room isn't off limits-- one burglars says he looked in a "diaper bag." One guy writes, nothing is safe... he'd even go through "tampon boxes."
So what are bad guys looking for? You're not going to be too surprised...Cash, jewelry, safes, electronics--tv's, computers, cell phones. But one burglar added, "No credit cards, cell phones, or personal information (because) all that can get traced."
Most of the burglars say security signs and cameras didn't deter them. One writes, "They are usually fake anyway."
Lights left on inside, vehicles in the driveway... Didn't necessarily scare them either. A burglar explains a car at home could help, "it may have (a) key to the house or garage opener."
Schillaci doesn't buy all of those answers.
"If you have three homes, and one of the homes says it's armed with an alarm and the other two don't, they're going to go to the other two,” Schillaci said.
However, most would leave right away if an alarm went off while they were inside the home.
What about dogs? Most burglars said... they would *not* necessarily skip the home if they saw signs of a dog. One wrote, "depends on what kind of dog and if I brought treats."
Many carried weapons... a gun, knife, or a tool to break-in. But, most said they wouldn't want to use it if confronted by the homeowner. Instead, they'd run... to get away as fast as possible.
We asked, what would you tell a homeowner to do if confronted by you? Most wanted you... to let them leave.
"I would tell the homeowner to run the opposite direction,” Schillaci said.
So what advice can these convicted burglars give to you--to avoid having a run-in with them? "Be aware of new faces recurring in their area.”
"Don't flash their belongings, don't let random people into the home, not even past the door, (because) even that much they'll see what you have."
One suggested getting a "house sitter." Another added, "Sadly not much. If a person wants to burglarize a home then his mind is set."
Whether a burglar's mind is made-up, Schillaci says we can learn a lot from these results.
Many burglars suggested getting a real home security system... not a decoy... because they'll test it to see if that sign you have out front is real. And nosy neighbors... a neighborhood watch... many of these guys said that would keep them away.
Another one mentioned, he would steal your dog too... if it's worth something.