The spectacle of burglars randomly choosing houses in the middle of night might make for good TV commercials, but it is not reality. Today’s burglars are pretty sophisticated. They know homeowners are paying attention. They also know they have to be one step ahead to continue profiting from their chosen line of work. Thus, it is not abnormal for burglars to scope out neighborhoods in advance.
Could a burglar be scoping out your neighborhood? It is possible. Burglars who operate more as criminals of opportunity might only spend a couple of minutes looking around. Others put more planning into their efforts, spending days doing local reconnaissance. Much of it depends on a burglar’s mode of operation.
All of that said, here are some telltale signs that a burglar might be poking around your neighborhood:
Casual Strolls to the Neighborhood
Most of us are familiar with our neighbors even if we don’t outright know them. We are familiar with the faces we see going back and forth in cars, on bikes, etc. So a seemingly random stranger casually strolling down the street should raise a red flag. That is not to say they are definitely a burglar, but they might be.
Burglars use casual neighborhood strolls to figure out when people are most likely gone. They pay attention to cars in driveways and blinds covering windows. They note mail delivery schedules, refuse pickup, and other factors that could affect any plans to come back and burglarize the neighborhood.
Minor Property Damage
Some less experienced burglars may wander through yards while checking things out. If they are not paying attention, they may trip over lighting and break a bulb. They might accidentally trample flowers or knock over a garbage can. Signs of minor property damage generally indicate someone was snooping around.
Contractors Asking to Use the Bathroom
Believe it or not, some of those friendly contractors you see in the neighborhood have part-time burglary gigs on the side. Be suspicious if a contractor working outside your home knocks on your door and asks to use the bathroom. He could merely be looking for a way to get in your house to snoop around. He might go into the bathroom and unlock the window with plans to return later.
Another common tactic for teams of burglars is to canvas a neighborhood as though they are taking surveys or attempting to sell something. They stand out as potential burglary suspects if they aren’t wearing uniforms or driving a vehicle with identifiable business information. Unidentified canvassing should always be considered suspicious.
Protecting Yourself Against Burglary
There is no getting around the fact that burglars are out there. They prey on victims who do not pay attention to their surroundings. They look for carelessness, especially at houses that look as though they might offer a decent payday. But you don’t have to be hopeless and helpless. There are things you can do to protect yourself and your property.
In Vivint’s guide to burglar-proofing your home, they mention some pretty specific suggestions for stopping burglary. For example, it is always a wise idea to keep doors and windows locked at all times. Burglars have a knack for finding unlocked entry points that don’t require them to actually break anything to get in.
Another thing you can do is install a home security system with video cameras. Burglars are known to skip houses they believe are protected by monitored home security. If burglars are scoping your neighborhood, offer them evidence that your home is protected. Do not let your home look like it’s easy pickings.