PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When it comes to crime, you are more likely to experience burglary than most any other type of offense.
It’s a crime that crosses all neighborhoods and economic levels. But burglaries are not the clandestine nighttime crimes depicted by Hollywood, says Ross Township Det. Brian Kohlhepp.
“Residential burglaries happen during the day when most people are away at work and the houses are empty,” he says.
While burglars differ in what they are after and what areas they prefer, there are some common denominators.
“I would say the average burglar is in the home less than five minutes, probably closer to two,” says Det. Kohlhepp.
That means they are looking for a quick hit target with minimal exposure.
So how do you make your home less attractive to a would-be thief?
“If you understand how others are looking at the house you live in, or the building you work in, then you can shut off these modes of access,” says Geoff Manough, author of “Burglar’s Guide to the City.”
The best deterrent are signs indicating you have an alarm system. Most criminals intent on hitting a home will not take the chance.
Manough says there are some basic things we all do to our homes that make them vulnerable.
Det. Kohlhepp agrees, saying, “If the landscaping blocks the view from the street, it’s going to make the burglar feel more comfortable. Especially if it’s a door they have to pry in.”
Always keep your doors visible from the street or from your neighbor’s house. Leaving your garbage can by the curb all day is another clue that the home is not occupied. If you can’t move it back up to your house during the day, see if a nearby neighbor might be able to help.
Where your home is located can also raise the chances of being targeted.
Manough says, “If you live near an on-ramp or off-ramp for a freeway you will be targeted more than if you are not accessible by a freeway. The idea is that you can get away from a crime scene faster.”
He says corner homes are bigger targets.
“Because criminals have lines of sight, so they can see if somebody’s coming,” he says. “They can see if the homeowners are on the way back and they also have more routes of escape.”
Fencing around a backyard might be great for privacy, but it can also create cover for a burglar as well. Det. Kohlhepp says make sure the gates are secure to keep the burglar out in the first place. Most burglars faced with a locked entry will move on.
Keeping your doors and windows locked and the home looking occupied is especially important in new construction neighborhoods where, often, the developer has the floor plan of the houses on the Internet.
Manough says that “makes new developments particularly tempting for burglars.”
A quick check of the website, he says, and they “can figure out how they’ll get out of the apartment without every setting foot inside.”
Critical for that quick exit.
Det. Kohlhepp says dogs only deter some burglars, others “take some food with them, they throw it down for the dog, and they go about their business.”
That often begins, he says, with a knock on the door to determine if anyone is home. If someone answers the door, a quick excuse is made for the intrusion and it’s off to another house.
Det. Kohlhepp says, “It sounds cruel, but the bottom line is to make your house less inviting than your neighbor’s house. You just kind of want to push them on to the next door or next street.”
And one final point. If someone’s actions in your neighborhood raise doubt in your mind, your best reaction is to call the police.
Det. Kohlhepp says neighborhood watchful eyes are the best crime fighting tool they have.