Burglars’ tips for home safety when you travel


If you think you are doing everything possible to keep burglars out and valuables safe while you’re away from home, you may not be.

Most of us know and/or do the basic preventives: stopping newspapers, holding mail at the post office or having a neighbor keep it, putting lights on a timer system so it looks as if someone’s home, asking a friend or neighbor to shovel snow and put out and take in garbage cans, not hiding spare keys under a doormat.

Our area has been hit by home thefts lately, and a neighbor forwarded an informative piece from Reader’s Digest titled “13+ Things a Burglar Won’t Tell You.”

RD said the article was based on tips from “convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.”

The article contains info and measures that are news to me. One is that burglars interviewed say they rarely go into kids’ rooms. And if you think your sock drawer is a safe cache for money or valuables, stash them elsewhere. Dressers are usually rifled.

I also didn’t know that burglars may check Facebook pages of potential targets to see if they are writing about being on vacation. Or that if handymen or other workers ask to use a bathroom with a window, they may unlatch that window to reenter.

I did know about two measures that are useful: keeping a radio or TV on to make thieves think someone is home (that can keep unwanted visitors out of hotel rooms also) and making sure fliers on your porch or tucked under your doorknob are removed by a friend or neighbor. Would-be burglars use that method to determine whether a house or apartment is unoccupied for long periods.

Also, it was surprising to read that people who have home security systems don’t always use them when away.

Now your turn: any theft prevention tips that have worked for you when you’re away?

Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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