Chris Patterson was convicted of burglary four times and is now on parole. In an effort to ‘clean up his life’, Patterson tries to give home owners some insight into what goes through the mind of a burglar. On an episode of ABC’s 20/20 titled ‘Confessions of a Burglar’ Patterson gave viewers a first-hand look at how burglars, like he once was, operate. The valuable tips he gives can really help people reduce their chances of becoming a victim to such crimes.
According to Patterson, many people make certain choices which make their homes a prime target for burglars. When trying to determine which house to target, he said he used to drive around neighborhoods for two to three hours and look for tell-tale signs that a particular house was good for breaking into. According to him, ‘It had to be perfect if I was going to risk my freedom.’
Based on his experiences, Patterson has offered the following tips to homeowners.
Chris notes that the minute he sees a home security system sign on the premises he begins to double guess choosing that particular house. Why? No potential burglar wants to activate the blaring sirens of a home security system and bring the cops down on themselves. That’s career suicide.
Having a security system with cameras makes your home even less desirable to burglars because then they can be identified and caught.
However, Patterson did note that many homeowners didn’t actually activate their home security systems before leaving their homes. All a burglar needs to do is look in through a window to check whether or not the system is activated. Therefore, don’t forget to arm your system!
According to Patterson, you don’t even actually have to have a dog. The sign is enough to make burglars run in the opposite direction.
Many homeowners love to have big trees and shrubs around their property for privacy but a home that is obstructed from view is also perfect for burglars. That’s because it makes their job easier; they know no one can see them.
On a balance of scales, it’s better to ensure that your property isn’t obscured from view so that burglars don’t get tempted.
Overflowing mailboxes and a pile of newspapers in the drive way act as a sign which signals your absence to the whole world. If you’re planning to leave town, ask a neighbor to empty your mailbox and collect your papers, or call in and get your deliveries stopped while you’re away.
According to Patterson, scouring social media sites for news about vacation plans is “one of the hottest trends out there. They’ve already said they’re going to be gone; you just have to set a time when you want to go over and pick it up.”
Therefore, never announce your upcoming vacations or plans on Facebook or other social media platforms. That includes night-out’s too. Don’t ever give that information out.
Window air conditioning units, irrespective of whether they are bolted or screwed in, are very easy to push through a window. With very little effort, a burglar can push your air conditioner through the window and use that space to get inside your home.
Home repair equipment, especially a ladder, are perfect tools for burglars to use to get into your home. If you leave them lying around “You might as well roll out a welcome mat!” says ABC’s Deborah Roberts.
If you’re doing any repairs or yard work, be sure to securely store all of your equipment away after you’ve used it.
Patterson says “regardless of income bracket, age or race, nearly everyone puts things in the same place in their homes as the next one.” That location is the master bedroom. “Common knowledge for all burglars: master bedroom first. That’s where the jewelry is at.”
Here, people keep their jewelry all organized in drawers and closets in easy to find spots. Furthermore, the boxes used to store precious items like jewelry are ornate and stand out. He says if you’ve organized your jewelry all in one place for your ease always remember that if it’s easy for you in terms of access, it’s also easy for me when it comes to taking it.
A better way to store your jewelry would be to keep it in plain boxes such as an old shoe box. This you should keep in an unlikely spot such as your kids’ closet because as he says, burglars aren’t likely to look through kids rooms because it typically isn’t worth their time.
Patterson says that when he would finish, he’d walk straight out the front door and acted like he belonged. If you know who your neighbors are, you can easily spot intruders and act on suspicious activities.
Burglars pick up all electronics in sight so that they can quickly sell them and make quick cash. This includes everything from iPhones, iPods, cameras, camcorders, laptops, gaming consoles, etc.
Since burglars want to sell these electronics, they need all the power cords that come with them. For this reason, don’t leave cords and chargers attached to electronics or in plain sight of the electronics.
If a burglar can’t find the right cords, they’re more likely to leave the electronics behind since without the cords, the electronics are worthless.
It is true that most burglars are skittish and are just as afraid of confrontation as their victims. Nevertheless, you should never confront them. Fear can make people unpredictable and dangerous. Therefore, always remember that while stolen items are replaceable, you and your family’s lives and health are not.
And there you have it; invaluable tips straight from the mouth of an ex burglar. The insight Patterson is able to provide is based on experience and therefore homeowners should really take these tips seriously. If you want to protect your home, family, and belongings, know how a burglar thinks and take the right precautions.