Some burglars will walk straight up to your front door and knock to see if anyone’s home. They just pick a time when they know most adults are at work and kids are at school (between 10am and 3pm).
But most burglars will case several houses from a distance before picking a target. That’s why the best way to prevent burglary is to make your home unattractive to potential burglars.
A fierce dog, a visible camera and a deadbolt on the door are all good techniques to make sure a would-be burglar walks past your home without a second thought.
But even with all those measures in place, an experienced burglar will always spot a weak point they can take advantage off.
It might be the garage door, a basement window or the back door that is out of view from the street.
So it’s also important to stay on alert for any suspicious person who might be watching your house. You might just prevent a burglary before it happens.
But be careful not accuse an innocent passer-by or neighbour and don’t get paranoid about everyone walking or driving near your house.
Here’s how to tell if a burglar is watching your house.
An unfamiliar person or car
If you’ve been living in a place for more than a couple of years, you can probably identify all your neighbours.
An unfamiliar person may just be a new neighbour who has moved in. But if they seem to have particular interest in your home, it might be a burglar studying your schedule and looking for a weak point.
The same goes for a strange car that keeps appearing on the street near your home. You’ve never seen it before and it’s always parked near your home or keeps driving past your house.
It may be nothing but to be safe note down the license number, make and model of the car.
Pretend joggers and passers-by
Standing in the same spot would look too suspicious. So potential burglars often walk past a home several times looking for signs of activity and assessing how they can break in.
Some will pretend to be just jogging but slow down when they reach your home, paying particular attention to the door and the windows.
If you see someone walk or jog past your home more than once and look towards your house suspiciously, it could be a burglar.
Someone taking pictures
Look out for anyone who snaps a picture of your house. They might even be taking a video that they can review later for weak points.
Some will pretend to be taking a selfie with their backs turned towards your home. Others work in pairs, with one pretending to take a picture of the other.
If they seem to be taking unusually long to snap a picture or you just have a bad feeling, take proper security measures.
Strange markings or flyers
In 2015, Police in the UK warned about symbols burglars were leaving on houses to mark them.
The symbols identified which homes seemed wealthy, were good targets, had vulnerable occupants or were not worth breaking into.
This is a common technique by burglars. So watch out for any strange markings on or near your home.
Some burglars also use flyers to mark houses.
Pretend salesmen or handymen
This is a popular technique burglars use to scout your home up-close.
They’ll walk up to your door and knock pretending to sell you something, ask for donations or hand out pamphlets. Others pretend to be handymen looking for work.
You might even have some pretending that they need to use your toilet.
Since it is hard to know who’s genuine and who’s a burglar, the best solution is to politely turn them down quickly. Be careful not to open your door too wide.
- Lights not working. If an outdoor light suddenly stops working, a burglar might have messed with it. Replace it immediately.
- A broken window. Some burglars will throw a rock at a window or purposefully trip the alarm just to see what happens. They’ll then plan a future burglary based on the response. If there is none or it takes long, they know they can get in and out before they are caught.
- A new cleaner or handyman. If you hire a cleaning company, make note of the team they regularly send out to your home. If there’s someone new on the team, call the company and confirm their identity. A burglar might have paid someone off to replace them for the day.