Burglary is a surprisingly intelligence-intensive crime. It’s not at the level of GCHQ but burglars get to know quite a lot about you and your home before they decide to attack.
By the time they approach your front door with a crowbar or a hammer, they are confident you are not home, you are not likely to come back and catch them in the act and there’s nobody watching.
They come about this information in various ways including scouting your home, getting information from other burglars and your social media profiles.
Here are the main ways burglars get their information and how you can curtail their intelligence-gathering efforts to keep your home safe.
This is the main source of information for most burglars.
They will spend a few days scouting your home to assess whether it’s worth breaking into, if there’s a security system and to learn about your daily schedule.
They use several scouting techniques.
- Walking past your home several times to observe your security measures.
- Watching your home from afar either in person or from a car parked on the street. They do this mostly to observe your schedule and determine the best time to break in when you are not home.
- Posing as a salesperson or a stranger asking to use the toilet. They do this when they want a close look inside your house to see if you have any valuables worth stealing and to assess your home security up close.
By scouting several homes, burglars can easily pick their target and wait for the right time to attack.
What to do about it
- Watch out for anyone walking or jogging past your home several times. If they seem to pay particular interest to your house, take note of their description and boost your security measures.
- Look out for an unknown car parked in the street near your home for several hours. If it comes back every day and you notice that no one comes out of the car, it could be a burglar scouting your home. Take note of the car’s description and registration number. Also make sure your home is secure.
- If a salesperson is at the door, do not open the door widely. If someone asks to use the toilet, politely decline.
- Install security cameras outside your house and monitor them for signs of anyone scouting your home.
2. Information from other burglars
Burglars share information among each other to identify the best targets.
If a burglar has already scouted your home, they can pass whatever information they collected to other burglars.
If your home has been broken into before, the burglar has even more details to share about your home security and layout.
That’s why it is important to upgrade your home security immediately after a break in. Repeat burglaries are more common than you think.
What to do about it
Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do about burglars sharing information with each other.
The best you can do is make sure they don’t get that information in the first place by watching out for someone scouting your home and watching what you say online.
It is also essential that you improve your home security after a break in to prevent other burglars from taking advantage of the same vulnerabilities. Buy and install anti snap locks, buy garage door security, etc.
Word spreads fast. If you don’t fix your security quickly, the same burglar or another burglar will strike again.
3. Your social media pages
Your social media pages are ripe targets for burglars. Many people share details that, unknowingly, could be inviting burglars to your home.
For example, if you share that you are on vacation that’s an opportunity right there for a burglar to strike.
If you post about your new TV or gaming system, burglars know there is something worth stealing in your home.
Posting photos of inside and outside your home also lets burglars plan their attack better.
The risk is higher if your posts are public. Check your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter privacy settings to confirm who can see your posts.
However, if you have hundreds of followers that you don’t know, a burglar might well be among them.
The best advice is to be careful with whatever you post online, whether it’s on social media or your blog.
What to do about it
- Do not post your vacation details online. If you want to share vacation pictures, do so after you’ve come back home.
- Avoid posting revealing photos from inside or outside your home online.
- Check your social media privacy settings to make sure your posts are not public.
- Avoid posting details that might reveal your schedule and movements.