Some facts and statistics about home burglaries
remain relatively constant over time. For example, according to FBI Uniform Crime Report numbers, 34% of break-ins originate right at the front door of a residence. First-floor windows are the second most common access points, with back doors coming in third. And though statistics vary by region, a surprisingly high number of burglars enter through an unlocked door or window.
Albany, New York Police Chief Ed Boyd says that around half of the burglaries in his city involve access through an unlocked entrance. Speaking with the Albany Democrat-Herald, Boyd said, "The majority of crooks are lazy. They take the path of least resistance. If a door is locked, if they see an alarm, they are typically going to move on."
But not everything stays the same over the years. Here are some recent trends in home burglaries that you should be aware of.
While the average spring lock can be picked by any 10-year-old with a piece of semi-rigid plastic, deadbolts are more secure. However, deadbolts can be overcome with a bump key. These keys, which can be bought online, are used in combination with a small hammer or screwdriver, and can unlock a deadbolt.
With bump key entry, there is usually no visible sign that the lock has been bumped, which is unfortunate for homeowners. Insurers may conclude that a burglar got in through an unlocked entrance and refuse to pay a resulting claim. "Bump-proof" locks exist, but even these can be bumped by someone skilled with using a bump key.
Group Burglaries with Female Accomplices
Some areas, including some neighborhoods in Seattle, have seen increases in burglaries committed by groups. One person (often a female) knocks on a door to see if someone is home. If so, she may say she has mistakenly knocked on the wrong door. If not, the rest of the team gets to work breaking in through a window or door that's out of plain sight. One reason females are used in burglaries is because people are less suspicious when seeing a woman at the door. This trend goes to show that seeing an unknown female wandering a neighborhood may warrant a call to police, particularly if she is seen going from one house to the next.
Inside Jobs and Blending In
Always be vigilant when you have workers and repair people coming to your house. Work crews may include a worker with motives besides repainting your living room. Some will surreptitiously unlock windows from inside when they're supposed to be working, or they may grab house keys or car keys that are left out in the open. Enough people misplace their keys regularly that not seeing the keys they tossed onto the kitchen table won't raise suspicions. Always check doors and windows after a work crew leaves, and keep your eyes on your person while they're working.
Breaking Into Your Car to Get Into Your House
Do you keep your garage door remote clipped to your car's visor? Are your car registration documents stored in your glove box? A burglar only needs these two items to get into your garage, and quite often, your house as well. Make it a habit to keep your car locked unless you're getting into or out of it. It's also a good idea to keep your garage remote on you -- or at least somewhere in your car -- where it can't be easily seen. Be sure to lock the door between your house and garage every time you go out.
Are Safes Safe?
A small portable safe shows burglars exactly where you keep your valuables. If it's light enough or not bolted in place, a burglar will simply take the entire safe somewhere he can dismantle it to get at what's inside. The city of Sydney, Australia has recently had some burglars willing to go even further. A rash of home burglaries there have apparently involved criminals using metal detectors to find behind-the-wall safes in upscale homes. They then use an industrial grinder to grind the safe doors off and help themselves to the contents. One burglary alone netted thieves $50,000 (Australian dollars).
Burglars in general look for easy opportunities to commit crimes. However, many of them are more than willing to try new techniques to get into homes. Stay ahead of the game by using high quality locks and maintaining awareness of your home's and neighborhood's security. You may consider installing a monitored home security system as well. Here’s a stat for you to remember: homes without security systems
are two to three times more likely to be broken into than homes with them.