Very few home invasions are random. Burglars choose targets based on a number of factors, including perceived affluence, ease of entry, and of course, vacancy. Burglars especially love it when you take a much-needed vacation, because they can make their way through your home with little chance of being detected. But how does a criminal actually know that you’re leaving town? The answer may be a lot more sinister than you realize.
A Professional Burglar Speaks Out
Walter T. Shaw once belonged to the Dinner Set Gang, one of the most notorious burglary rings in the country. A seasoned professional with a lengthy rap sheet, Shaw claims there has never been a home he couldn’t get into. According to Shaw, in an interview with MSN Money, “Americans tend to tell everyone they’re going on vacation, a weekend getaway or a business trip.” Shaw further elaborates that thieves have informants everywhere, and that his own tipsters included carpet installers, bank tellers and hairstylists. “These folks were often told about a customer’s upcoming trip and gave us the details, making it very easy to plan our ‘visit’ to the house.”
Social Media Madness
It’s one thing to chat with total strangers about your vacation plans; it’s another thing entirely to announce your plans to the world via CyberSpace. “OMG About to spend the next two weeks in Cabo! #winning.” Well it may interest you to know that as many as 80 percent of burglars use social media to find potential targets, according to a report from Friedland. So just say no to social media vacation announcements. Even if you have the maximum privacy settings on your accounts, you never quite know who’s listening in.
It’s Not Just Word of Mouth
Aside from talking too much, we can inadvertently send messages to would-be burglars simply by how we organize our trash. For example, let’s say that you just purchased a new 60-inch HD-TV for your home. Just one problem. You placed the box out on the curb for the trash collector. You might as well put up a giant billboard that reads, “Hey burglars, I just bought a new $800 TV. Come and get it!” Many burglars will even dig through trashcans while casing a home, so be very mindful of what you throw away. Shred all personal mail and financial records before disposing of them, and don’t advertise your valuables to the curious public.
Additional Vacation Tips
If you do plan to head out of town for a while, there are a few things you need to know. For starters, don’t let newspapers or advertisements pile up on your porch, and don’t let the mail collect in your mailbox. Ask a trusted neighbor to collect your mail and other deliveries while you’re away. Additionally, set up some timed lights to shine during the nighttime hours. This will present the illusion that someone is home. A fake TV light can reinforce this illusion even more. Remember, it’s all about how you communicate to the world, and verbal communication is only a very small part of the equation.
Securing Your Home
Even when you’re extremely careful, and you go to great lengths to avoid the TMI factor, you can’t always avoid a burglary. You can greatly reduce your odds of becoming a victim, but you can’t guarantee that it won’t happen to you. A burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the United States, and every home needs a quality security system. If you’re still rolling the dice on your home safety, check out the wide selection of home security systems right here at Home Security Store, and see just how easy and affordable it can be to establish professional-level security. And next time you’re tempted to tell your local barista about your upcoming Vegas trip, just remember those three important letters: TMI.