What Thieves Don’t Want You To Know About Protecting Your House
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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It’s a homeowner’s greatest fear: having their home robbed. Even though crime rates in the United States have been dropping steadily since 1991, and technology has made amateur thievery much less of a problem, those professional burglars are still on the prowl.
Here’s what thieves don’t want you to know, and how you can make their jobs a little harder, even if you do have plenty of home insurance.
#1) They’re Not Looking For Your Jewelry: They Want Your Electronics
Thieves target houses where they know they can get the most value for the least effort. So, they won’t be looking for people with rare coin collections or fancy jewelry. You’re much more likely to run into a thief at Best Buy while you’re looking at TVs than you are at a rare coin shop.
Here’s why. Even jewelry without a history still has dozens of identifying marks, such as the quality of the gem and the setting. For jewelry to be of value to a thief, it has to be broken up, melted down, and sold that way, which means more cost and less payment.
Other goods, like consumer electronics, are much easier to sell as-is. Thieves know that many people never bother to write down any distinct serial numbers or other marks from their consumer goods, so tracking those goods is practically impossible. Furthermore, they know those electronics are in high demand and will be easily sold through pawnshops, used electronics stores, and on the Internet. In short, electronics are a good deal for a thief.
How To Thwart Them: First, write down any serial numbers or other identifying marks on your equipment, take detailed digital photographs, and store them on a USB drive attached to your keychain. That way, even if your computer is stolen, you’ll still have the vital information. Also, keep a small backup drive, which you can buy from any electronics store, in a safe place and back up your computer weekly. This will keep sensitive information out of the hands of thieves.
#2) You Should Be Locking Up Your Personal Documents, Not Your Jewelry
Other items thieves will look for: your personal identification documents and anything that establishes your identity. Your Social Security card and other information is highly valuable, especially if the thief simply writes it down instead of taking the card itself. That way, he can lie in waiting for the crime itself to cool off, for you to relax…and then start getting credit cards in your name and spending, spending, spending.
How To Thwart Them: If you’re robbed, immediately alert your credit company and subscribe to a credit monitoring service. This can be useful two ways: it can keep the thief from taking out cards in your name, and just as importantly, offer some way for the police to track the thief down and hopefully get your money back.
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#3) They’re Tracking You Online
Professional thieves spend a lot of time researching, or “casing,” their targets. They used to have to be there, in person, watching the house – which isn’t easy to do inconspicuously on a suburban street. Fortunately, Facebook came along and made casing houses a snap.
Now, all they have to do is find your name on Facebook, confirm your location, and watch your Wall. Some people make it very easy by signing up for services like Foursquare or Google Latitude, that tells everyone exactly where you are at all times. You could even do the work for a thief yourself, announcing that you’re going on vacation for two weeks.
How To Thwart Them: Keep your Facebook and Twitter profiles private, and only friend people that you know in real life. This is a good rule for social networking anyway, but it really does keep thieves away: they’ll search for easier targets.
#4) They’ve Probably Been To Your House
Like it or not, we have to invite strangers into our homes, or at least onto the ground on which our home stands, all the time. Plumbers, contractors, cable installers, gas men, phone installers, salesmen, even people who just have a dead battery and really need to use the phone. While the vast majority of these people are legitimate, and have been thoroughly checked out, the occasional bad apple does slip through. Often, crimes are committed after a person (such as a cable installer) comes in and examines your house. A few weeks later, the robbery is committed.
How To Thwart Them: Keep anything valuable you own in a non-obvious place. If you have any personnel coming to your house, be sure to get their names and an exact time that they’ll be coming, or ask them to give you a call when they’re five minutes away. Escort them around your house and don’t let them wander.
#5) They Know All The Tricks That You Do
This might be the most important thing to note: anything you’ve read about preventing thievery, they’ve read too.
For example, many people, when heading out on vacation, put their lights on a timer so it looks like their house is occupied. But a good thief will notice that the lights come on all at once, and that they never get turned off, and that no bodies pass by them.
Similarly, thieves will happily walk up to your front door and check your mailbox, or keep an eye out for a neighbor coming over to collect the mail. Those tell a thief that you’re not home, and depending on your arrangements with the neighbor, where to find a key to get into your house at their leisure.
How To Thwart Them: This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any of the things listed above: you should, as they help deter some thieves. Just be aware that these are not the only measures you should take. Consider requesting the occasional drive-by from your local police department while you’re away. That’s a pretty strong deterrent.
Final Words on Theft
No home can be made absolutely safe from thieves, but with a little common sense, you can keep your home safe. That’s the thing thieves want you to know least of all.
Of course, the best way to keep your home safe is to make sure you are covered in the event of a burglary. At InsuranceProviders.com, we make it easy to find the cheapest home insurance, no matter what size home you own. Just enter your ZIP code in the box below to get the best home insurance quotes, from the best insurance companies.