The latest evolution of looting keeps making prime time news. We have all seen the crowds of mask wearing looters busting into stores 10 or more at a time and helping themselves to whatever they would like.
Imagine what looting might look like in America if the stores were empty and the police disbanded. 1.6 million home invasions occur every year in the US each year, that’s with cops and stores brimming with goods. (source)
Of course, looting isn’t just about retail stores. Bad guys like to break into homes, too. Is your home looter proof? How do you know? Chances are you are giving away precious information to looters in your area. You might even be inviting them! So, how do you stop it?
Well, Sun Tzu put it perfectly:
“Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated.”
I Am the Looter
To help you better understand your foe I am going to play the role of the looter. I have some questions to ask you and how you answer these questions will verify whether you are easy looter target or not.
When I come around, are you home?
Time at home has increased a lot due to the pandemic and the push for more Americans to work from home. Are you home during the day?
If you are not home, is it very easy for me to tell that you are not home.
Is the driveway empty?
The most common time for a burglary is between 10am and 3pm. This is largely since thieves do not want to come face to face with another person.
What kind of home do you live in?
Are you in the kind of neighborhood and the kind of home that only the wealthy can afford? I like those big houses with nice cars out front. I know there are expensive things inside of them.
If I am looking at a shabby, run down home then I cannot help but ask myself, “Is it worth it?”
A nice big, well kept, house with busy people who are never home, that is the kind of place I like. I can get inside there and take my time.
What is on your property that might make me think twice?
Do you have anything standing between me and your home? If I see a simple walk to your side door or, even better your back door, it doesn’t get much better for me. I hate fences and other impediments.
A yard without any sign of cameras, floodlights, or any kind of alarm system is exactly the kind of place I like to “visit”.
I hate when I am casing a property and all the sudden a cacophony of howls and barks comes from the house. Especially those deep growls and barks from big dogs. Dogs can be a real problem for me.
Can I sneak onto your property without anyone seeing me?
Large trees, dark shadows, bushes, and shrubs are all great for concealing my approach. If I can work my way all around your property without you or your neighbors being able to see the suspicious activity, then I am really winning.
A clear front yard with a powerful floodlight is as bad as it gets for someone like me. Being seen is always a problem.
If I try your car doors one night, will they be locked?
I can learn a lot about your security posture at home by simply pulling the handle on your car door one night.
While you are sleeping upstairs, I can just give the handle of the car door a pull.
If it opens then you are likely more relaxed about security in your home.
If that car door is locked up tight then you have a LOCKDOWN mentality, and your home is going to be more of a challenge. Depending on the home and the perceived valuables in the home, it might be more of a challenge then I am looking for.
What can I learn about you from your bumper stickers?
Prowlers like me, we love free intel. I am always amazed at what people are willing to tell the world about themselves by spackling it all over the back of their car.
Some people are so bold they even let me know exactly how many people and pets are in the home! Their little stick figure families on the car window tell me everything I need to know.
What about the value of the things in your home and how much money you really have. Even if you live in a modest home, bumper stickers that show off expensive vacation destinations, expensive hobbies, and private schools that your children attend, let me know you have resources.
If I try your backdoor one night, will it be locked?
On a Monday night I might try your car door.
If I get a chance to look around inside the glove box and the console then on a Wednesday afternoon, while your driveway is empty, I might return to try your backdoor. If it’s locked, I will look under the mat to see if you leave a spare key.
What is your bedtime? Do you wake up early?
For a latch lifter like me its always good to get to know your schedules. Do you wake up early and head off to the gym before work?
Do you stay out late with buddies after work on Fridays? The more I can learn about your schedule the better I can determine if your home is one that I want to break into.
The Next House on the Block
Now I will remove my Goon hat and get back to being a writer. The NEXT HOUSE mentality is how you win the game. It is not always a matter of making your home into an impenetrable fortress. Instead, you are merely trying to make your home the least appealing one on the block, to a looter.
This means you want a balanced approach to things like cameras, lights, and deterrents like dogs or alarm systems. You can also be a little more careful about OPSEC and what you share with the world on social media and with bumper stickers.
A little vigilance goes a long way. Make sure the doors and windows are locked on your home. Remember, most burglars are opportunists and, unless you are guarding something precious, it only takes a few deterrents break their will. Your goal is to just move them along to the next house on the block.
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