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19 ways to think like a burglar and prevent theft

19 ways to think like a burglar and prevent theft

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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FARMINGTON — Thinking like a criminal and anticipating their moves is your best chance of avoiding theft and burglary, law enforcement says.

Davis County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Susan Poulson said people can prevent a lot of theft by thinking ahead of a criminal and taking care of neighbors.

"We just recently had a case that was solved in one of our contract cities that a burglar was going house-to-house taking whatever was left unlocked or open. We had a resident who was observant and called it in." Poulson said. " He was able to give us a description of the suspect, what he was taking and where he was going."

Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, interviewed more than a hundred burglars for his book "Burglars on the Job." The patterns he found included what Poulson suggested, as well as some others.

Below are 19 things a burglar thinks according to Wright.


  • I've been in your house: I'm the carpet cleaner, the painter, the delivery person, the landscaper.
  • I used your bathroom. And I unlatched the back window while I was there.
  • I'm polite. I always knock before entering. If you answer, I'll ask for directions or offer to do something around the house.
  • I won't look like a crook when you see me. I'll look like I have a job to do instead.
  • I've looked in your windows. I know what electronics you have and where you keep your jewelry.
  • I'm your Facebook friend. And I saw your posts about vacation.


Scoping the site

  • Toys in the yard tell me you might have gaming systems inside.
  • You've opened the window to air out your house. That's my invitation inside.
  • Your garage door is open. That's an advertisement of the things you own to me.
  • Can see your alarm panel and whether or not its set from the window? Consider having it installed where I can't see it from outside.
  • Newspapers piled up in the driveway, fliers on your door: both are welcome signs to me.
  • Your driveway has an awful lot of snow on it. Consider getting a neighbor to walk through it or hire someone to keep it plowed if you're not home.

Keeping me out

  • The sound and flicker of a TV deter me better than any alarm system.
  • If your neighbor keeps looking at me when I'm in your yard, I'll leave.
  • Loud, barking dogs blow my cover and keep me away.
  • An armed alarm, complete with motion detectors above the kitchen sink window and on the second floor make me nervous.

Once I'm inside ...

  • I check your sock drawers. I'll check the medicine cabinet and bedside tables, too.
  • If your safe isn't bolted down, I'll take it with me and crack it later.
  • I don't go into kids' rooms.

The list may seem over-cautious, but Poulson said thieves will look anywhere for clues and have no problem striking anywhere.

"Unfortunately, that's the day and age that we're in. But, you just need to make sure that you keep yourself and your belongings safe," she said. "It's too bad, but that's the way it is."

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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof


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