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Casing and Scouting—What Do Burglars Look for When Selecting a Target?

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Burglar TargetProfessional burglars would just as soon you didn’t know a few simple facts. Like, what it is they look for when casing a property for potential burglary. Make no mistake. Burglary is big business. Forget armed robbery. Those guys almost always get caught and prosecuted. Burglars? Not so much. In fact, up to 8,000 burglaries occur in these United States—every single day. Many burglars consider themselves professionals. Far from being driven by impulse or desperation, they plan their work carefully, and execute their operations quickly, efficiently and stealthily. Month after month. Year after year. An important part of being an effective burglar involves casing—or scouting, if you will—to determine which properties offer the greatest potential reward for the least risk. While we can’t recommend selling all your valuable possessions to reduce your risk of being targeted, we can share some of the key factors burglars look for when casing a property. To begin, there are three types of burglars. The first includes highly-skilled, well-disciplined professionals. Only Fort Knox-type security is likely to thwart these criminals, so there’s little the average homeowner can do to stop them. Fortunately, they’re unlikely to target you unless you happen to own an original Monet or Picasso, in which case you undoubtedly rely on far more sophisticated—and expensive—security than the average homeowner in the first place. The second category involves semi-professional thieves. The third is comprised of opportunistic amateurs. These types of criminals represent the greatest risk to average homeowners. So what do they look for? Some operate in broad daylight. They’ll approach a home directly, ring the bell, and wait to see if there’s anyone home. If not, they’ll probably skip around back, looking for a window or door that’s easily breached without drawing attention. Before ever approaching your home, though, burglars will scout for likely targets. They’re looking for evidence of neglect, absence of cameras, no dogs, no security lighting (at night), and things like open garage doors, no landscaping in front of ground-floor windows, and/or evidence that you’re away (newspapers piling up, overstuffed mailbox, un-shoveled driveway in winter, etc.) Ultimately it comes down to this: Does your house look like an easier target than other nearby properties? You can bet that a barking dog, an audible television, or obvious video surveillance equipment are all factors that say: move along.

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