1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week
cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or
delivering your new refrigerator.
2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I
was working in your yard last week. While I was in
there, I unlatched the back window to make my return
a little easier.
3. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the
driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front
door to see how long it takes you to remove it.
4. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to
create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts
in the driveway are a dead giveaway.
If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't
let your alarm company install the control pad where I
can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.
5. A good security company alarms the window over
the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which
often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry.
It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.
6. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and
you forget to lock your door-understandable. But
understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad
7. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for
directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters.
(Don't take me up on it.)
8. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer?
I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table,
and the medicine cabinet.
9. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into
that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not
bolted down, I'll take it with me.
10. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than
the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your
TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35
device that works on a timer and simulates the
flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at
11. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I
dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to
never, ever look like a crook.
12. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy
13. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little
noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll
stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he
doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was
doing. It's human nature.
14. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that
money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house
without setting it?
15. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for
signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or
gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your
neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds,
just to pick my targets.
16. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook
page. It's easier than you think to look up your
17. To you, leaving that window open just a crack
during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me,
it's an invitation.
18. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door.
Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.
Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina,
Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant
Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com; and
Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the
University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105
burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.
Reader's Digest Contributing Editor Janice Lieberman
shared these and more tips on the Today Show
*IF YOU HAVE A LIVING TIP YOU WOULD LIKE TO
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