Someone illegally enters a building to steal something. Happens once or twice a month in our neighborhood.
Who, and How
Most often, during the day. When no one is home. Can happen even when everyone is gone "for just a couple of hours". Like this...
A thief drives through the neighbor, see an empty carport (and nothing parked on the street immediately front of the house): unlikely anyone is at home. They pull their un-marked van or truck to the front of the house or in the driveway, then go and knock on the front door. (If anyone answers, they'll have a story of some sort ready.) If no one answers, they'll go around to the side or back of the house where they can break in out of sight. Then they'll quickly load up as many valuables as they can, and drive off. You won't know about it until after you get back from work or shopping.
Nighttime burglaries are less common. One or two burglars enter a house at night. One may stay in their truck as a "getaway driver". There may also be a "spotter" in a separate vehicle a few blocks away with a cell phone, watching out for the Police.
Occasionally a "homeless" person (from one of the homeless camps under the tangle of freeway overpasses and underpasses near us) will "jump the fence" at the east end of our neighborhood and steal whatever they can carry away.
Many burglars already have criminal records. The police have their fingerprints, descriptions and "mug shots". Which highly motivates burglars to keep from being noticed (and possibly identified) when committing a burglary.
Usually: to support a drug habit. And that's why you should avoid confronting them directly. If they're on drugs, their behavior can be unpredictable and they may become violent. Do not confront them yourself. Call 911.
Did You Know? Burglars Rarely Steal From a Tented House
Don't be too concerned about your house being burglarized while your house is being "tented" for termite treatment. Most burglars aren't that dumb, and according to the HPD, it's a rare crime (we don't believe it's ever happened in our neighborhood). But if you are concerned that it might happen to you, you can call 911 in advance to arrange for drive-by police checks while your house is tented.
What to do After a Burglary
Call 911. Touch as little as possible before police arrives (they may be able to get finger prints). Ask your neighbors if they saw anything, and let the police know if anyone has. Then call your home insurance company.
Provide a list of what has been stolen to the police and to your insurance company (from a inventory you prepared in advance, if you have one).
Know that burglars usually "fence" most of what they steal through swap meets, occasionally through pawn shops or selling on-line. Most stolen goods are never recovered. Particularly jewelry. It's estimated that $3 million in jewelry and other valuables are stolen in Honolulu, and only about 1% are recovered. And police often cannot tell who the legal owner is when they do recover stolen goods. [The goods end up being auctioned off.]
What Works to Deter Burglaries?
Slow them down
Burglars look for houses they can break into quickly & quietly.
Make your house difficult to break into without making noise. Concentrate on making the rear and sides of your house difficult to break into. (Burglars rarely break in through your front door.)
- Don't have any louvers (which can be quickly removed or broken)
- Close and latch all windows and dead-bolt lock exterior doors whenever no one is home
- Make sure your neighbors have a clear view of your house (by not having plants or fences that obscure their view of your house)
These things will slow burglars down (and make it likely they'll make noise -- that you or your neighbors will notice -- if they have to, say, "bounce" your sliding glass door off its track or use a crowbar on your back door).
Make sure they will be seen
Burglars really, really want to avoid being noticed.
The best way to deter a burglary may simply to be sure someone can see them at your house. If your neighbors can clearly see around your house, a burglar is likely to go elsewhere. It's good if people walk down your street regularly. If someone is jogging or walking down your street when thieves drive by, they will go elsewhere.
Have something which will attract the attention of your neighbors
If they hear a dog barking (yours or a neighbors) as they approach your house, they'll go elsewhere. (Dogs do not really scare them, but the chance that a dog might alert a person will.) . And let your neighbors know that it's okay not to hesitate to call 911 if they see anything suspicious at or around your house.
If no one could see a burglar at your house (e.g., a fence or plantings obscure part of your house), consider getting a burglar alarm. But keep in mind that:
- A burglar alarm will not physically prevent a break-in, it will only make a noise or alert someone after the break-in occurs
- An alarm which is not "armed" (turned on), or which no one will notice when it goes off, is useless
Having an alarm system, even one with a sign, will deter some burglers, but won't stop every burglar. Experienced burglars know that you might not really have an alarm (just a sign!). And even if you do, there's a very good chance your alarm isn't active. Too many folks fall out of the habit of arming their alarms when they leave during the day, or while sleeping at night. Others save money by not paying the monthly fee to have an alarm company monitor the alarm.
An alarm system with a noisy siren will be more effective than a "silent" alarm to alert your neighbors.
An alarm system with cameras will be even more effective (and more expensive). But not even cameras will make your house "burglar proof". Some thieves who spot the cameras will go elsewhere, but others may not. They will avoid being seen by the cameras (perhaps coming back at night). Ff they do come to our your house, the very first thing they'll take will be the video recorder for the cameras. (And possibly some cameras as well.)
Preparing for a burglary (or fire, or disaster)
The most important thing you can do to help recover from a burglary (or any other disaster) is to make -- and keep safely -- an inventory of your household goods. Include everything of any value to you. Includes descriptions. If something has a model and serial number, include that information. Photograph everything, and take a full-room photograph of each room as well.
Having an inventory is important if you ever have to make an insurance claim. After a burglary, it can really help the police to recover things. But remember: if you keep your inventory on your computer, also make a CD or DVD or other backup. So you'll still have the inventory after your computer is stolen or damaged.
If your house will be vacant for more a day at a time (e.g., your family goes on vacation)
- Let your neighbors know
- Stop newspaper and mail deliveries (or have a neighbor pick them up every day)
- Request regular "house checks" (for up to 30 days) by HPD beat officers. Call HPD through 911 and ask for the police non-emergency line to request house checks.