How to Think Like a Burglar

Robert Gardner, a former California cop, shares eight weak points in home security that robbers watch for.

Most burglars are looking for the path of least resistance,” says Robert Gardner, a former California cop turned security consultant. “They don’t want to be seen. They don’t want to be confronted.” Here are weak points in home security that burglars watch for.

  • Handy hideouts A lush yard looks nice, but burglars see thick bushes and dense trees as perfect cover. “A good rule of thumb is to not have vegetation higher than three feet, and tree branches lower than six feet,” Gardner says.
  • Low-grade locks Some old-style locks can be opened with just a credit card. Install single-cylinder dead bolts on all outside doors and consider adding a more secure catch called a dead latch.
  • Weak windows Aside from unlocked doors, windows are the most common points of entry. Get double-pane windows, which are difficult to break.
  • Sounds of silence Man’s best friend is a burglar’s worst enemy. You don’t need a big dog: A small, yappy pup helps keep intruders away. Don’t have a dog? Leave the radio or television on when you go out.
  • Advertised absence Burglars case houses for clues. Leaving town? Put lights on timers, and ask someone to pick up your mail and mow your lawn.
  • Conspicuous caches Thieves look where most people hide their valuables: dressers, bedroom closets, and freezers. Try unexpected spots.
  • Know-nothing neighbors Burglars avoid close-knit communities. Join a Neighborhood Watch Program and keep it active.
  • Deficient defenses Motion-sensing lights, surveillance cameras, and alarms, coupled with signs declaring their presence, are prime deterrents. Installing them might also qualify you for a home insurance discount.

Get a home insurance quote by stopping at a AAA branch.


This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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