It’s pretty terrifying to think a burglar can break into your home at any given moment. Most people assume that it will never happen to them, but the truth is, it could happen to anyone. That’s why it’s important to keep your doors locked and your valuables hidden. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry. In one Reddit thread, 45 burglars or ex-burglars spilled their tricks and taught us how to avoid getting robbed.
From what you post on social media to where you keep your jewelry, many things may make you an easy target for a burglar. Some of these tips are so helpful, the only people who would know them are the burglars themselves. Even though we see them as criminals, thieves are regular people like you and me. Here are some of the best tips to avoid being robbed, straight from the burglar’s mouth!
Don’t Post Your Vacation
When you’re getting ready to go on vacation, you don’t just disappear. You tell certain people, even it’s just for safety reasons. But there is a difference between telling a close friend and posting it all over the Internet. It may seem like a basic concept, but especially in 2020, people tend to ignore the dangers of sharing their vacation plans on social media. It can make you a target for burglars!
“Also, wait until you get home from vacation to post pictures. A buddy’s house got totally cleaned because he kept posting on social media while he was gone. The police think he actually got robbed several times since the burglars took his furniture etc. too. They knew he was gone, and when he was coming back.”
Smart Hiding Spots
Keeping your valuables hidden in safes or inconvenient places is really important. If someone breaks into your house, their goal is to get in and out of there as fast as possible, so they aren’t going to search for hidden items. Here’s a guy who was robbed by his friend turned burglar but, luckily, he kept his valuables in an extra safe place.
“Had my house burglarized by a so-called friend. He missed by far the most valuable thing. It’s just a safe sitting on the laundry room floor. He missed it because I’m a scumbag and had it covered with a mountain of dirty clothes and towels. So not being tidy saved me upward of $35K.”
Don’t Let Strangers In
This tip doesn’t necessarily come from a burglar, but someone who realized he could be one if he wanted to. When this guy was working as a door-to-door salesman, people automatically trusted him and let him in. They didn’t ask for any credentials or identification beforehand. He just waltzed into their homes, and they didn’t even think twice about it. If he wanted to rob them, he could have easily done so.
“Also side note, I use to do door to door sales for ADT… people would let me in the house and just tell me where all the important stuff was before even verifying if I was legit… don’t do that.”
Beware of Dog Sign
If there is one thing that will scare burglars away, it’s knowing that a guard dog might attack them. Just put a “Beware of Dog” sign up whether or not you actually have a dog.
“I was never a burglar per se, but in my younger days, I had a penchant for criminal mischief (and a total inability to weigh the consequences of my actions, but that’s a different story.) This isn’t an answer to this direct question but a pretty important word of advice: If you really want to protect your house from people breaking and entering, all you need is a BEWARE OF DOG sign… Alarm systems aren’t enough as pretty much nobody bothers arming them. A beware sign though, even if you don’t have a dog, is a clear indication that this house is not easy prey, and the trespassers will move on.”
Fool Them First
Many people keep an extra key under the mat. Unfortunately, this is so common that it’s the first place that burglars check. This Reddit user says the trick is gluing a key under the mat. When someone tries to grab it, they quickly realize it’s a trick and run off. Even though this guy isn’t a burglar himself, his porch cameras proved this works.
“This doesn’t exactly answer the question asked, but it’s a tip on potentially protecting your valuables. Bear with me because it’s a bit strange: Glue a spare key (not one that opens something important) under your doormat.
Don’t Put Your Key by the Door
It’s pretty standard for people to keep their keys right next to their door. It’s pretty convenient. You just grab them off the hook or counter as you’re leaving the house. Even though it makes things easy, it’s not necessarily safe. Having your keys readily available will also make them readily available for burglars. That means if someone breaks in and sees your keys, they might steal your car too.
Yikes. I never really thought of that. However, this Reddit user gave me a clear warning. “Don’t leave your car keys next to your front door. You’re giving potential burglars a great fast exist and a free car.”
Lock Your Car
In addition to not making your keys readily available for burglars, make sure to keep your car safe too. Plenty of people leave their car doors unlocked with valuables inside. And sometimes, with their keys inside. Some folks are way too trusting. This makes it incredibly easy for people to steal cash from inside or just drive your car away. It happens way more often than you’d think.
“You’d be surprised at how often people leave their cars unlocked with nice things inside. A lot of people actually leave them unlocked them the keys inside. It’s how the majority of cars are stolen.” Good to know…
Don’t Keep Your Key Under the Mat
Having a spare key to your home can really come in handy if you’re ever locked out. Everyone forgets or loses their keys occasionally, and no one wants to go to a locksmith and make it a whole thing. That’s why people tend to keep their keys in obvious places and assume nobody is coming to rob them. However, some of the first places burglars look are under the doormat or other objects right outside the house.
“Don’t keep your spare key outside near the front door – under a pot plant, under the doormat, top of door frame, etc.” You should find a sneakier spot or leave the spare key with the neighbors.
Lock the Windows
When you leave the house or go to bed, you probably (hopefully) make sure all the doors are locked. For more safety, you should add something extra to your routine. This user shares how, as a teenager, he committed a few burglaries, mainly in schools. He learned an important thing If someone really wants to break in and they are determined, they will try and take advantage of an unlocked window.
“As a troubled teen, I robbed schools. I can say this: Lock your windows. 99% of the time, we got in with the unlocked windows.” This is coming straight from the burglar’s mouth. Note to self: Don’t forget the windows.
Take Valuables Out of the Car
A good way to stay in a burglar’s danger zone is to have something valuable on full display. This is especially true when it comes to burglars who are ‘carhopping.’ If jewelry or cash is visible through the car window, a robber is more likely to try and break-in. People tend to naturally be trusting and think it’s safe to keep valuables in their own car… but you shouldn’t underestimate burglars. Make sure to take your wallet, purse, phone, and whatever else you value out of the car with you.
“Don’t leave stuff in your car. When I was in high school, we did our fair share of car hopping.” I guess it’s the youngsters you would watch out for!
Everyone loves jewelry boxes. It is such a fun way to organize all your diamonds and pearls. Often, people like to keep their jewelry in their closet. It’s super convenient that way because you can pick out jewelry and accessorize as you’re getting dressed. However, as much as it makes our lives easier, it also makes it easy for a burglar.
Most people feel safe in their own home. Unfortunately, there are burglars out there, and if they break-in, they will assume your expensive jewelry is in the closet and will check there first. “Closets – gold mine for jewelry.” Don’t keep valuables in obvious places.
When You Let Them In
This person wasn’t a burglar, but he did reveal a helpful tip that could come in particularly handy when someone is already in your house- specifically a maid, nanny, or someone who knows their way around. Simple hiding spots will not do the trick.
“Not a burglar, but I learned this from my sister who would steal stuff from our mom while cleaning. If it’s in a place they find just by cleaning, the maid style burglar will find it. Under the bed or a pillow. Underneath the bag in the trashcan is the worst because even if it’s discovered missing, there is possible deniability.” I never heard of people hiding valuables in the garbage can under the trash bag… but what do I know?
Lock the Garage
It may seem obvious that you shouldn’t keep your garage door open overnight. But you should also avoid keeping the garage door open when you aren’t home. This ex-burglar revealed that an open garage door is a beautiful opportunity for burglars.
“Open garage is an easy one. People work in their garage all the time with the door wide open, which makes for an easy case. I can walk or drive by and see you have a couple of dirt bikes, some nice tools on the wall, and other miscellaneous goodies. Chances are my former self will wait for you to leave. Some people dare to even leave the garage door open overnight, making it incredibly easy.
Trick the Burglar
Safes have their pros and cons. Sure, it’s a good place to keep your stuff locked up. But what if someone steals the whole safe? Here is a cool trick that worked well for this Reddit user.
“We had a huge safe that takes 2-3 people to move. They broke into my house and flipped everything over searching, but when they found the safe, they left everything else and focused on taking that. I even had iPads and Rolex watches lying around in the open. Point is, we kept the safe empty, would only keep a few fake pieces of jewelry in case there was ever a home invasion we could offer then something to take.”
Safest House on the Block
There are many interesting tricks to keep burglars away, but there is one in particular that will make them not waste their time: security! Burglars aren’t trying to get caught, so if they notice a security system, chances are they will go look for a different house.
This isn’t to say they won’t break into homes with cameras, but if you live in a neighborhood with many people, they will go for the house with a lower level of security. Just be the most secure on the block. “Burglars will break in somewhere, but by having better security than your neighbors, they might not pick your house.”
Psych Them Out
This one expands on freaking out burglars by gluing a key under your mat. Get some security cameras as well and watch it play out. This Reddit user spotted scared burglars on more than one occasion.
“A few years ago, I did this in addition to installing cameras. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen this exact scenario play out: Thief walks to the door, checks under the mat, unsuccessfully tries to grab the key, backs up, looks around to see if anyone is watching (presumably because they think they have fallen for some trap/prank while they are being surveilled, and LEAVES. They don’t even search for another key because it spooks them.”
Turn on the Lights
Realistically, someone is more likely to break into your house when you aren’t there. Here is a little trick that reduces your risk of being robbed. It might help to leave the lights on. It will probably make the thief assume that someone is home, and they will walk away. If you’re leaving on vacation, this Reddit user has a trick for you.
“LED lighting is cheap these days. If your house is gonna be vacant for a while, consider investing in one of those smart-lighting systems where you can set different rooms to turn on and off at different points in the day. (kitchen during dinner time, bedrooms at night, etc.).”
Hang the TV
This is another great tip to prevent your house from being burglarized. This one particularly works for electronics. If you don’t want someone to steal your TV, it might be a good idea to mount it instead of keeping in on an entertainment stand. A freestanding TV is pretty easy to grab and run away with.
But when it’s mounted and attached to the wall, it takes too much time to uninstall, so the thief will probably not even bother. “Keep your TV on a VENO mount (or equivalent). Free-standing monitors are a lot easier to quickly move. Laptops are easy pickings.”
Get a House-Sitter
This Reddit user gave more a more chilling tip. You should be careful trying to keep burglars away from the home of someone who recently passed away. Funerals can be common knowledge, and the information is usually readily available on social media. So, when close family and friends are saying goodbye to their loved one or attending an event, it’s a good idea to hire a house-sitter.
“Burglars also break into houses of deceased people while the funeral is occurring. It’s helpful to ask a trusted, but not close friend to house sit while a funeral or wedding is occurring.” Who is evil enough to steal from a dead person?!
Don’t Use Well-Known Hiding Spots
If a burglar is coming to rob your house, he wants to steal your stuff and get out of there fast. This guy shared that he doesn’t stick around for more than 15 minutes. He was very specific about his process.
“I’m going to look under your bed. I’m going to dump out any drawer I find. I’m checking your freezer. I’m looking under the bathroom cabinet. Think that incredibly smart hiding spot you saw in a spy movie will work? We watch spy movies too. It’s really going to be a matter of security versus convenience for you. If it takes me more than one minute to get to something (and don’t forget I’m more than willing to break shit to get to stuff), then it’s not worth my trouble. I want to be out of your house in less than 15 minutes.
Don’t Trust Strangers
Usually, robbers are smart and like to do things the easy way. But some like to take risks, take their sweet time and concoct a plan to get you out of the house. This Reddit user learned this trick from his ex-burglar classmate.
“He also said he’d do the bbq switcharoo. He’d steal somebody’s bbq, leave a note from “a neighbor” saying they borrowed it for a big family gathering and needed one pronto, here’s some ballgame tickets for the trouble. They’d wait for you to leave your house to enjoy some nice sports ball, then rob you blind.”
The Truth About Small Lock Boxes
A safe seems like a good idea, but if you really think about it, there are disadvantages to keeping valuable items in a small lockbox. Even if it’s well-disguised, if a burglar sees it, you could kiss all your valuables goodbye. They will assume there is something in there worth taking and leave with the entire box. They’ll deal with getting it open later.
“Inside one of those small lockboxes. It’s great when you find one because they’re simple to open and if they don’t have a wall safe, then all their main valuables and money are usually in it… jackpot.” I think it’s time for me to invest in a wall safe.
Usually, people don’t think to hide things that are monetary in value. However, sometimes those things are just as important as diamonds or cash. You should maybe not keep all your medicine in the cabinet. The thief will just scoop it all out and sell it.
If you have medication that you need to take daily or a prescription drug such as Adderall or Oxycodone, it’s important to keep them out of the medicine cabinet. Drugs are easy to sell at a high price, so there is no reason for a thief to leave it behind. “The medicine cabinet or bathroom. I’ll just scoop the drugs out into a bag.”
Choose the Right Safe
Often, a surefire way to protect your stuff is to invest in a safe and lock them up. Unfortunately, it’s not as safe as foolproof as you’d assume. This former burglar shared that finding the right safe is the trick to protect your valuables. His advice is to get a big, bulky, heavy one.
“Any safe that’s not bolted down and is small enough for 1-2 people to carry isn’t safe at all.” It’s easy to pick up a safe and leave. Especially once the robber is out of the house and has all the time in the world to break it open. If you’re getting a safe, be smart and get one that isn’t easy to carry.
Don’t Open the Door, Kids
It should be customary for parents not to allow their children to answer the door. Especially if you don’t know who is on the other side. Kids can be naïve and don’t have the experience to know if someone is suspicious. They might just let anyone in, not knowing they have malicious intentions.
“I went to the door for close to 10 years selling various items. One thing that blew my mind is children 6 and under would answer the door quite often without their parents knowing/being around. No, not good. I get that sometimes you get distracted from your child but at least make sure they can’t open the door to a stranger.”
Keep Your Purse Close
If you’re a lady and carry a purse, or a man and carry a “murse,” you likely already know that you have to be careful so it doesn’t get stolen. It can happen so fast and it’s pretty disappointing. This Reddit user wasn’t a thief, but he had friends who were.
“Not a burglar, but I grew up in a high crime area & knew some boys out there ‘hitting licks.’ Bit off-topic, but some guys would ride a bike through busy parking lots searching for a woman loading up after shopping and leaving their purse unattended in their shopping cart. Ride by & snatch. Then have a getaway route that a full-sized vehicle can’t follow them through.”
Choose Your Windows
When you move into a new house, there are certain things that you can’t control; for example, the windows. However, sometimes a bit of renovation is necessary. This is usually the case if your home has windows that open from the outside. A major concern during a break-in is broken glass.
So, you don’t want to get windows that don’t lock. It will give burglars easy access to get into your home easily. “Make sure that your windows can’t be opened from the outside, especially the ones that are on ground level.” I definitely have to go home and check my windows. I’m pretty sure they lock, but I want to be certain! The last thing I need is to get robbed.
Textbooks Are Valuables
When you think of valuables, Jewels, money, and electronics come to mind. Something we forget about the less obvious items. This includes textbooks. Especially if you are a college student, you know how much money they cost, and it’s important to keep them safe. Burglars love to get their hands on them!
“For college kids, that [sic] might read this, don’t keep your textbooks in your car. On the day of my finals, I had about six textbooks I was gonna sell in my car. Came back to find someone broke my window and stole the textbooks. Cops told me that it’s very common and unlikely they will catch the guy, so I was out $700, which is huge as a college student.”
Think Outside the Box
As we’ve discussed, burglars have a few tips they tend to rely on. That’s why it’s important to think outside of the box. The stranger your tricks are, the harder it will be to find your valuables. You can find a bunch of different ideas online, but the burglars also have the Internet—that why it’s better to come up with your own, like this creative person.
“I’ve seen people make false outlets for hiding valuables like cash and jewelry. Just an idea, a burglar would have to be at your home for a long time to start checking outlets.” We know thieves want to get in and out of there as soon as possible, so this is a pretty clever trick.
Nobody Likes a Show-Off
We already mentioned that you have to be careful about what you are posting on the Internet when you are out of the house. Well, there are a few other social media safety rules you should follow. This means don’t brag and show off expensive new items you just bought. It’s basically advertising that you have valuable stuff for people to steal.
“On your social media page. No really. Don’t post photos of expensive stuff you just bought on Facebook: You might think it’s cool to show it off, but to a would-be thief, it just becomes a shopping list.” This one is particularly important because social media gives people information about where you are as well.
Watch Your Tools
This guy revealed what the burglars are really after. “First, most thieves are not going to go after your valuables you are hiding. Family, friends, your kids, and roommates will go after these items. Generally, a thief will go after easy to sell and hard to track items that are easy to move. Power tools or tools, in general, are a treasure trove.
A good toolbox can easily have a resell value of $500-$1000 upwards of several thousands of dollars. I had friends who used to focus on entertainment centers (home stereos, speakers, game systems, etc.) They had a garage full of items and would list items on Craigslist and sell them in a different city. They would just print out fake stickers with serial number/make/model/brand. Besides, anyone buying the equipment never cared if it was stolen, just that they were getting a deal.”
Nightstands Are Not Safe
This tip doesn’t come from a burglar but from the victim of a burglar. He said he learned a huge lesson on the day he was burglarized. The police said the thief worked quickly and only checked the usual spots. He was told to stop keeping valuables in the nightstand, which is really common.
“We had our apartment burglarized. Guy kicked down the door and apparently was on and out pretty quickly. I came home from work, and the cop told me, ‘never leave valuables in your nightstand.’ Might have even said bottom drawer. Sure enough, mine were checked. I could tell because my envelopes were moved from where I placed them.”
Lock Your Shed
It’s extremely important to protect your house and car. However, sometimes people forget to lock up their shed or garage. If you don’t, it’s an open invitation for burglars. Ironically, those same tools could help a robber break into your home. This burglar warned people about the things they leave outside. If you’re smart, don’t make your tools easily accessible.
“Your shed. LOCK YOU F—— SHED. Even if your house is well-locked, if your shed isn’t, I likely have access to a plethora of tools I can use to gain access.” This advice comes straight from the horse’s mouth. Hide your tools.
Second Pair of Eyes
If you’re trying to hide stuff in your own house, you should ask a family member or friend to see if they can find it. Maybe your hiding spots aren’t as inventive as you think they are. This Reddit user learned this from his uncle, who covers robberies. It’s a simple yet very effective idea.
“My uncle is a cop. His best advice- have your partner or a friend go looking for what you hid- if they find it, it’s a bad spot. Do this a few times. He gave me others, but I don’t wanna give it away for people to use later and then new burglars to use- think weird places, though.”
Some things in the house might seem like you can’t secure without a ton of work. For example, how do you make a windowless easily broken? As it turns out, there is actually an easy solution. You can buy a shatterproof film that is made to make your window harder to break. You got to love 2020 (minus Corona and a bunch of other sh*t that I can’t get into right now).
“Keep things locked solidly. Bars locks for windows and sliding doors, a shatter-resistant film on all glass.” Plus, it won’t change the appearance of your window. Am I the only one who didn’t know this stuff existed?
Try the Basement
Here is another ex-burglar giving good advice to the average, middle-class homeowner. One of the best places to hide money that people seem to forget about is the attic or basement. Just put it amongst boxes, and a robber with likely assume there is just some old junk down there.
“1. I sincerely regret that 30 years ago, I was a robber. 2. If you are rich and have jewelry at home, do you have a lot of money at home? There is no guarantee that you will not be robbed. It can be done not only by people unfamiliar to you. 3. Are you a middle-class man? Keep the money in the basement, among the old things.”
Make Their Life Harder
This guy wants you to be prepared! “What it taught me is to assume a burglar with enough time is unstoppable and they will find your sh**, but you can slow them down or make yourself less attractive of a target. Once they are in, however, assume they will find all your valuables. The best way to protect something is to keep it offsite, meaning in a lockbox or other secure storage spot.”
“Next best is a safe that has been bolted down into the concrete. This isn’t perfect, as any normal safe can either be stolen outright or broken in to with an angle grinder, but again, you are slowing them down and forcing them to use loud tools. Last, anything else of value should be covered by insurance if you can’t afford to lose it – jewelry, expensive electronics, etc.”
There are so many different types of security measures out there, readily available. Each one has its own distinct set of advantages, and some are more beneficial than others. This one might seem quite obvious, but it’s extremely effective- a camera. The last thing a burglar wants is to get caught, so they will probably skip your house.
“Also, get cameras for your house and make sure you have the right sign in your yard saying you have cameras. This will deter most criminals knowing their crime will be filmed.” I guess even putting fake cameras up might make the thieves go away.
Don’t Use the Freezer
There are lots of hiding places at home that may seem clever but aren’t. Sometimes places are so smart, but once everyone hears about them, they aren’t as reliable as they used to be. I mean, if you heard of a genius hiding spot, the burglar probably has too. As you can see, robbers are very similar to you and me.
This Reddit user learned from their ex, who was a burglar, and some of the best hiding places aren’t really safe at all. “Not a burglar but my ex was… your freezer or cereal box is not a good idea. Neither is [sic] books for cash.”
Sliding Glass Doors Are a Bad Idea
There are lots of different kinds of doors you could use in your house. This ex-burglar on Reddit recommends not using sliding doors. The reason is that sliding doors could be some of the easiest to get into. There are security systems specifically designed to protect sliding glass doors, but there is still a good chance for a burglar to break in.
This burglar claims these doors are the easiest to get passed, meaning other robbers probably can too. “If you have a sliding glass door, I can open it. Even with some of the security systems sold for sliding glass doors, I can open it.” I should probably change my patio door…
Mow the Lawn
Making your house look occupied is a smart way to disguise your whereabouts and avoid becoming a potential target. There are a few different ways you could do this. We already mentioned how some people purposely keep their lights on to make it look like they’re home, but here is a trick you probably never even thought of.
One of the main things that is often overlooked is mowing your lawn. “I know this sounds crazy, but mow your lawn frequently. It will show that you have been and had enough time to mow your lawn and that someone must be there.”
Certain hiding spots are specifically tempting to burglars, and you could use this to your advantage. This Reddit user shared the genius plan their friend came up with. Lure the burglar with a fake jewelry box and put a couple of 20s on top to make it look legit.
“My cousin lives in a badass neighborhood, so she went to a thrift store, bought an obvious-looking jewelry box and a bunch of expensive-looking costume jewelry that’s actually worthless and put it in a box. She keeps this in a conspicuous place. Then she leaves a few 20s on top. This way, if someone breaks in, they will grab this and run ignoring some of her well-hidden valuables.”
Don’t Leave Boxes Out
Sometimes, the best way to stay out of a burglar’s radar is not to look like a worthy target. These people are already taking a risk by committing a theft, so they want to make sure it’s worth it. So, there are certain things you should be a little less obvious about. For instance, break down your boxes.
You are more likely to be targeted if a robber sees a whole TV box next to your trash can, so breaking it down will lower your chances of being targeted. “Don’t leave things out that people can see from outside your home or car. If you buy a new TV or computer, break down the box it came in. Don’t just leave it by your garbage can.”
When you buy a fire-proof safe for your home, you probably assume it will protect you from a fire, as well as theft. As it turns out, this isn’t always the case. If you purchase a fire safe, your valuables might not get damaged in the case of a fire. But, as this robber shared, it doesn’t mean they’ll be safe from theft.
“Fire safes are only safe from fires.” You just have to be really careful when you pick out a safe. Don’t expect a fire one to protect you from burglars. If you do get a fire safe, make sure it’s big, bulky, heavy, and difficult for thieves to get their hands on.
Don’t Lock Drawers
Obviously, it’s important to lock up certain things: your doors, window, garage, car, and shed. It makes it harder for people to get in. But the opposite concept works when it comes to locking drawers in your house. The reason for this is because they are easy to break.
If a burglar comes in and sees a locked drawer, they will likely assume that’s where the valuables are and break it open. “Oh, and thanks for locking drawers. That way, I only know exactly where the valuables are. I can open that cheap wood drawer as quickly with a crowbar as pulling it open.”