All this week, we’ve been talking about how to securely stash your financial emergency kit in your home.
We discussed the No. 1 security tool in your arsenal… and we heard from a former CIA officer who gave us a rundown on the worst hiding spots for your stash…
But today, we’re going hop over to the other side of the fence. That is, meet some of the folks who made their living breaking into homes just like yours.
After all, who better to help us understand the mind of a criminal… than a bunch of actual hardened criminals?
In an effort to root out the best ways of deterring burglars, insurance company Co-op Insurance recently consulted with a panel of rehabilitated burglars.
The panel included former bank robber Noel “Razor” Smith, who carried out more than 200 robberies and served a total of 32 years behind bars for his crimes.
“Most burglars want to be in and out of a house in less than five minutes,” Noel said during the panel. “But there are some very simple steps everyone can take to make our homes more secure and keep our valuables safe.”
Surprisingly, a home alarm system was NOT one of those steps. When the panel of criminals ranked their top security deterrents, a home alarm system didn’t even break the top 10.
This makes sense considering today’s police response times.
High priority locations like big corporations can expect an average response time of seven minutes.
But regular folks like you and I will have to wait as long as an hour to see any sort of police response. And depending on your location, your wait can be even longer.
If you happen to be living in a severely understaffed district like Flint, Michigan, response times can be upwards of 24 hours.
So what did make their top 10?
Unsurprisingly, a barking dog was high on everyone’s list of biggest deterrents.
Not only will a dog alert homeowners to the presence of a burglar, but it can attack and cause serious harm to an intruder. The former burglars said that the bigger the dog, the bigger the deterrent.
Heavy doors and strong, locked windows were another top deterrent. As Mr. Smith pointed out above, most criminals want to be in and out as quickly as possible.
For this reason, anything that will slow down that process, like hard-to-open doors and windows, will act as a major deterrent.
A TV that’s been switched on ranked much higher than I thought it would, coming in at No. 4 on the burglar’s list of top deterrents. Apparently, having the TV on is a strong indicator that the homeowner is a) at home and b) awake.
Even if a burglar suspects that this might be a ruse, they’re not going to risk it, just in case.
Other deterrents that just squeaked into the top 10 were surrounding fences, gated communities and motion-activated lights.
However, the No. 1 deterrent for burglars — according to this panel of hardened criminals — is the presence of a security camera.
It seems that nothing throws cold water on an attempted robbery like recording their every move. If you’ve got security cameras, a burglar could pull off the prefect burglary (fast and quiet) but still get caught when the tape is reviewed later.
These days, you can even get cameras that will alert you when they sense someone moving in front of them and beam the live footage directly to your smartphone. So burglars know that if they rob a house with a security camera, the police could already be on the way.
Even a fake security camera can work as a strong deterrent — as long as it’s a good copy and not a cheap-looking, plastic replica.
On the flip side of the coin, when asked about what type of behavior attracts criminals, nearly all the burglars mentioned one in particular: Facebook.
“Bragging about your [vacation] on social media is an absolute no-no,” said Smith. “It’s just saying ‘come and burgle my house.’ Organized gangs are having a field day.”
So the next time you’re on vacation — whether it’s a weekend away or two weeks in the Caribbean — hold off on posting those vacation pics until you get home.
And why not go the extra mile and get yourself one of those security cameras that broadcast to your phone? That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation knowing that your home is safe.
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All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis
Editor’s note: Want to see just how quickly and easily your front door can be opened by burglars? Check out this presentation from former CIA officer Jason Hanson.
He’ll show you how to pick just about any lock in your home… in less than 30 seconds. It doesn’t take years of training or the skills of a master thief. With the right tools and instruction anyone can learn how to do it. Click here to see just how easy it is.