Contrary to what we’ve written before, not all burglars will randomly choose a house to break into. Some do things a lot more complicated than that, and we’re about to show you how.

Vacation seasons and holidays are risky for any home owner, since burglaries invariably peak during those few days/weeks, and can be costly for everyone involved. Except the burglar, of course… Even if security can cost you a few bucks to get up to speed, it will most certainly pay off. Only about 20% of burglaries are ever “cleared”, as the cops put it, and so you may be out a whole lot of dough if, for some reason, your insurance company won’t pay out (they wouldn’t short change you, would they? Naaah… ) or invaluable items go missing. Here’s what to look for and what to do before leaving for the beach.

5: Tagging.

What… like the stuff you see on the subway? No. But nice try.

Some burglars will be brazen enough to actually label the houses they’ve determined to be a good mark. This can happen in several ways, but a fairly popular method is placing a small mark on the mail box, for example. Or on the street number nailed to your wall or by the driveway, or any other markers that singles out your house.

Make a habit of checking your mail box for little signs of tampering every time you go out there to get your stuff, and wipe off/remove any paint dots, debris, scratches, etc. that you didn’t put on it yourself. Take a look at that number sign too – it can be hard to catch, but the trick is to keep a reference. Take a picture or make a drawing of it if you’re not sure you can remember all the details in your head.

4: One Story Buildings = Trouble

It's what they do.

For you, not the burglar. A one story building is easier to go through, since there’s less space, usually. Fewer rooms. You get the point.

If you live in a one story building, you should be extra careful, since there’s a greater chance that you’ll be targeted by the local professional. Most burglars will prefer to go in through the back door, and they won’t bother trying to pick your lock. A crowbar is much quicker, and speed is of the essence – that’s why they’re liking your one story house. Make sure you secure your doors and windows, and be diligent about it. In the end, a burglar might get in no matter what you do (almost), but make him or her pay for the privilege.

3: Cul-de-Sac = More Trouble

If you’re living at the end of one of those, you’ll have to be even more careful. Since there’s less of a chance that the cops will happen by in a cul-de-sac, burglars are partial to those places. More often than not, wooded areas are close by and the houses will have back yards that may or may not be enclosed, which ups the stakes even more.

If your house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, taking some extra precautions to make sure you’re not the most attractive mark on your street. We’ve got a lot of great tips for you.

2: Curb Appeal

Real estate agents talk about this all the time, but burglars know just as much about this as even the most seasoned agents do. Are you keeping up with your lawn? Making sure that your flower beds are looking pretty? Cleaning your windows every week and keeping your gutters free and clear of crap? Well, you should.

If you keep your house and yard looking pretty, that will tell a burglar that you care about your house, you keep a close eye on it and that you know what’s going on with it. They’ll also think that you’ve take care to try and hinder them as much as you can if they try to break in – whether you’re there or not. Curb appeal up = burglaries down. Easy as pie.

1: Pet Detectives

Pictured: Doing it right.

Dogs may be man’s best friends, but that’s only if you remove burglars from the equation. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know that most of them don’t take kindly to a threat to its pack (that’s you and the dog, plus anyone else in the family). A dog, big or small, is likely to attack a burglar, and as you might imagine, burglars don’t like to have chunks taken out of them. Big… or small.

So what if you don’t have a dog? Well, there’s still a way you can take advantage of the aversion burglars have for them. While it might sound silly, this actually works:

Place a couple of dog bowls in the back yard or on the porch, along with a dog chain set into the ground. This’ll only cost you a few bucks, and there’s a good chance a burglar will pass your house by if he/she sees it. But for the love of God… don’t buy one of those electronic dog things tht bark when someone passes the sensor. They don’t fool anyone, and a dog is much more likely to stand a growl when sensing danger, than leap up and down barking. A quiet house with a dog bowl and chain (throw in a sign, too!) is much more ominous to a burglar.

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