Yesterday, good friends of ours had their home broken into. They were shocked, saddened, and angry. I was called to the scene and while there spoke with the responding law enforcement officer at some length. It seems that burglaries are on the rise in these parts and the techniques are pretty much the same. As our economy continues to deteriorate, we can expect to see more of these crimes. So, I figured I’d share what I learned with y’all in the hopes that you can take some steps to harden your defensive posture.
Most break ins occur in the mid-afternoon – around 2:30. The targeted home has been cased for at least a week. Out in the country, one cannot just “hang around” – surveillance must be mobile. Criminals drive by and note numbers and types of vehicles, where they are parked and so on. They note activity patterns, kids, dogs, neighbors and so on. Many times they will reverse look up the phone number from the address (something that used to be available only to law enforcement) and they will call the home repeatedly at different times to determine when someone is home.
When they show up to break in, they don’t want to be caught – these are intended to be property crimes – they don’t want to be confronted. They will typically pick a time when they think you are not home but to make sure, they will have a ruse and drive boldly into the driveway, get out, and knock on the door. One crew was surreptitiously filmed and they knocked on the door loudly for 5 minutes. Then, because the home was obviously alarmed, they threw a patio brick through the rear window and took off. They did this first to make sure no one was napping, then to test the alarm system and any response. They returned 15 minutes later and knocked on the door several times again. Then they broke in.
These guys (and gals) operate in crews of two to four. After they determine no one is home they kick the front door in. The vast majority of dead bolts go into a crappy piece of pine. Long screws and metal strike plates don’t matter. My friends’ door took two kicks (footprints) but the frame shattered and the door was split. It was a metal clad door. If there is an attached garage they check it immediately – if there is space, they may pull their car into it. Most of the time though, after they gain entry and don’t have any initial problem, the driver takes the vehicle and moves away from the home to a place (or route) where they can keep an eye out. They communicate via cell phone.
The burglars move immediately to the master bedroom and toss it – drawers are pulled out and dumped on the floor, closets are gone through, beds are looked under. Goodies are thrown on the bed and when the pile gets big enough, the sheet/blanket is gathered at the corners and hauled to the pickup point – either the garage or near the front door.
Desks are tossed – they are looking for papers, records and keys. Computers are taken. My friends had all their spare keys nicely labeled – one set was for their brand new car in the garage. The thieves loaded their stuff into their car’s trunk, in the garage out of site. Speaking of keys – do not keep the keys to your gun cabinet on top of said cabinet… yeah…
These break ins typically last less than 15 minutes. When they are ready to go, they call the pickup car and it drives into the garage (preferably) or as close to the front door as possible. It gets loaded and they take off. This is a very dangerous time to confront them. If you show up while they are tossing your place, the inside people typically run and get picked up by the car a ways away. If you confront them while they are loading the car it could get violent.
Many times, the burglars will strike again within 48 hours. They saw things they want to get “next time” and most people don’t feel safe at home and so they stay away until the doors get fixed, alarms get installed and so on. They took all my friends’ spare house keys, keys to the rental they own and keys to their other vehicles…
Neighborhood watch. Get to know your neighbors. Watch each other’s homes and drives. Report suspicious activity, people, and vehicles. Let passersby see that you see them.
Don’t be obviously home or gone. Install a gate and keep it locked all the time – not just when you are gone. Do not tie a yellow ribbon on your tree if your spouse is away serving the nation. If you have more than one vehicle – drive and park them randomly. If you can always keep them out of site that is best.
Alarm system. If you have one - make sure it works and is turned on.
Dogs. Two big, barky outside dogs are a powerful deterrent. A little yappy inside dog may deter burglars in the city but not so out in the sticks – no one will hear it and the burglar is not afraid of Fi-fi.
Doorframes. Reinforce them with oak and steel.
Telephone. Don’t answer it if you don’t know who is calling. Either get caller ID or let your recorder pick it up – every time. Don’t let people know if you are home or not through your telephone.
If a stranger knocks on your door in the middle of day be extremely wary. Get an excellent description of the people, vehicle, and license number. Keep a pad and paper or camera at your front door. Remember – they will have an “excuse” to be there and don’t want a problem. When confronted they will leave – get the info and report it.
Keys. Keep your spare keys hidden and secured.
Computer. Keep records somewhere other than in your computer – at least a spare set.
Have a plan to lock down your accounts in the absence of your computer.
Have a plan to contact your insurance agent – in the absence of your computer.
Make a video of all your stuff. Walk through each room with the drawers open and slowly film everything. Keep a copy of this video somewhere other than your home.
After a burglary, keep someone on the premises 24/7 or consider removing remaining valuables to an alternate location for awhile. My friends disabled the vehicles they don’t normally use.
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. – Luke 11:21 – 22
If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe
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Prepared Americans for a Strong America