When it comes to safeguarding your home from theft, there’s only one person you can trust.
The one who broke in.
That’s why KGW News in Portland sent questionnaires to “86 inmates currently serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections.” The queries ranged from “How did you typically break into a home or apartment?” to “If a home alarm system went off, what would you do?”
Since they’ve got some time on their hands — and aren’t looking to get back into the game anytime soon — the perps wrote back. From their responses, we’ve assembled 10 guidelines you should consider observing posthaste to better protect your abode.
- Take down your NRA signage. If burglars know you have guns, and you’re not home to fight back, they’re happy. “NRA sticker on car bumper = Lots of guns to steal,” one respondent wrote.
- Set your security system's alarm. Most intruders said they would leave immediately if a loud alarm went off. (A sign touting home security? Not good enough.)
- Lock your doors and windows. This is the “eat your fruits and vegetables” of safety. Everyone knows you should, but you still don't, and then you feel like a dope when someone walks in your front door and robs you blind.
- Don’t rely on man’s best friend. Unless he’s trained to attack. Dogs that are “big breeds” and “home protectors” are a deterrent, but if they go all Scooby Doo at the sight of a treat, don't count on catching that villain.
- Put a camera out front. Every single responder said they knocked before breaking in, so the least you can do is set up a front door photo booth. Also, if you’re home at an unusual time and a suspicious stranger shows up at your door unexpected, get their license plate.
- Know who's next door. Even criminals think we’re becoming more insular as a nation. But if your neighbors know your schedule and cell, they can let you know if they see something fishy.
- Turn on the TV and radio. If a housebreaker hears some Westworld playing, they’ll stay away (especially if they haven’t seen the new episode yet).
- Park your car in the driveway. If you leave one at home. A crook won't likely take a chance on that.
- Set your security system when leaving for work. Home burglars prefer mornings and afternoons for break-ins, so don’t expect to run into a ceiling rappeller while grabbing a midnight snack.
- Don't turn your home into Guantanamo Cul-de-sac. Privacy works both ways. Your neighbors won't see you in the buff, but they also won't see a burglar making off with all of your stuff. One looked for "large trees, bushes or shrubs around the home, or very reserved and conservative neighbors."
Sure, some of this stuff is — to borrow a phrase from KGW’s Tracy Barry — “kinda chilling.” But safety can be as simple as saying hey to your neighbor more often. Be the Mister Rogers you've always wanted to be.
And if your current security setup skews nonexistent, we put together a list of devices that'll help protect your apartment, house or Airbnb.