Expert Roundup: How Homeowners Invite Break-Ins

No one wants to come home to find their house has been broken into and their stuff has been stolen. But homeowners often and unwittingly encourage break-ins. Here's how.

During Crime Prevention Month, we’ve asked a gaggle of law enforcement agents and experts – we call them our Roundup – to talk about the best ways to keep your family and home safe from burglars. We, of course, think that owning and arming a home security system is a good start. But our Roundup sifted through their combined decades of experience to find more good advice. Here’s how they answered:

How do homeowners unknowingly invite break-ins?

Ed O’Carroll

Captain in the Fairfax County Police Department and former patrolman and crime prevention officer.
“It’s never the homeowner’s fault, but leaving the garage door open and leaving the front or back door open during the day or evening could be an easy invitation for a criminal. Burglary is not usually a crime of impulse. They make a conscious decision about which home to break into. So, keeping the house locked even on the nicest day is a great step forward. Also, get to know your neighbors and participate in a neighborhood watch.”

James R. Holmes:

Forty-year police veteran and spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.
“When you let burglars know you’re not home, you invite break-ins. You do this by leaving curtains open, leaving boxes that possibly contain high-value items outside the home, and posting on social media that you’ll be away.”

Jeanne MacKenzie:

Veteran detective and public information officer for the Tulsa Police Department.
“We’re seeing people announcing on Facebook or Instagram that they’re out of town or on vacation. They’re advertising that nobody’s home, and that’s a big mistake. Also, a lot of people leave their garage door open when they’re home, which is an invitation for someone to slip in and steal a bike from your garage.”

Jeffrey Zwirn:

Security and protection consultant and author of “The Alarm Science Manual.”
“Homeowners mistakenly leave their high-value items, like jewelry and cash, in their master bedroom closet. Most burglars know they’re going to find a treasure chest of items in the master bedroom. Homeowners also think a safe they bought at Costco weighing about 100 pounds is burglar proof. It’s not; burglars can pry it open. I recommend buying a decoy safe and filling it will sand, then put your real valuables someplace else in the house.”

Have any tips to share about making your home less inviting to burglars? Reach out and let us know through Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for our next roundup installment What’s the first thing a homeowner should do after he discovers a break-in?”

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