Home Home & Garden Victim Carelessness: The Burglar’s Best Tool

Victim Carelessness: The Burglar’s Best Tool

by William Gist

The Daily Sabah website recently published a fascinating post discussing how Turks view personal safety in the home. According to the piece, some 38% do not bother locking their doors when they leave home. Nearly half don’t lock their doors at night. Yet 75% of them worry about a burglary.

It is a safe bet that Americans lock their doors with greater frequency. It is also a safe bet that many of us worry about a burglary. Yet despite being motivated by fear to lock our doors, burglaries still regularly occur. Why? More often than not, burglars succeed because homeowners are careless.


It turns out that carelessness is a burglar’s best tool. A careless homeowner can all but leave the front door open without actually doing so. Experienced burglars know how to identify those kinds of victims and how to exploit their carelessness.

Trying Neighborhood Doors

TV commercials from home security companies often show burglars forcing their way into homes using crowbars and sledgehammers. Such scenes make for dramatic commercials, but they do not reflect reality.


Your average burglar doesn’t prowl a neighborhood with crowbar or sledgehammer in hand. First of all, that would be too obvious. More important is the fact that burglars do not like to make noise. They will not smash a door or window unless it is absolutely necessary.

Some burglars wander around neighborhoods trying each and every door. They casually walk up to a house as though they have a reason for being there, gently knock to make sure no one’s home, and then discreetly reach down and try the handle. If the door is unlocked, in they go.

Identifying Careless Homeowners


Again, most Americans are religious about locking their doors. That means burglars cannot rely on finding unlocked doors if they expect to make a living. They must devise other ways to get in and out quickly without making a lot of noise. To that end, they scope neighborhoods looking for careless homeowners.

Experience tells him there are some good things to look for. Here’s a question to illustrate the point: how tidy do you keep your yard?

An overgrown yard that looks like it hasn’t been dealt with in months doesn’t mean anything to a burglar. But one that exists in that middle ground between overgrown and well-kept does. That kind of yard tells burglars that the people who live there put just enough effort into maintenance to get by – and not much more.

These kinds of homeowners are also more prone to forgetting to lock first-floor windows. They are more likely to leave valuables in plain sight. They are likely to go away on vacation and not ask anyone to keep an eye on their properties.

Burglars also look for:

  • Trash receptacles that spend days at the curb
  • Recycling receptacles with non-shredded paper materials
  • Newspapers or mail collecting outside
  • Wide-open draperies
  • Toys or tools left in the yard.

According to Vivint, anything that suggests homeowners are not paying attention to all the little details is an open invitation to burglars. From garage doors left wide open to a broken gate that needed repair three months ago, burglars know what to look for.

Home Security Systems


Home security systems are obviously a good deterrent to burglars. Homes protected by monitoring systems are less likely to be burglarized because burglars know that monitoring companies are paying attention. If you are worried about burglary, installing a monitored system is a good place to start.

Along with that system, do a home-wide assessment in an attempt to see what burglars see. If you notice an unkempt yard, make keeping up with the exterior of your home a priority. If you find broken screens or panes of glass, have them repaired right away. Make sure the kids do not leave their toys and bikes out in the yard.

The key to thwarting burglars is to make them think about what they intend to do. If you show diligence in maintaining your home, a burglar has to consider that you might be just as diligent about your security strategies. That is what you want. You want burglars to think twice about entering your home. You do not want them to think you are careless.