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7 Sneaky Ways Burglars Can Break into Your House

In many cases, all it takes to keep a burglar out is a locked door. But some burglars are a bit craftier and may use one of these more creative methods to break into your home.

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How burglars break into homes - open front doorPhoto: Shutterstock

Most of the time, they’re not “breaking” in at all

“Most burglars aren’t using ladders or ropes or digging holes to get into your home,” says Emily Patterson, a home security expert for ASecureLife.com. According to her research, an overwhelming majority of burglars enter homes through the doors and windows. Thirty-four per cent use the front door, while 22 per cent get in through the back door. Twenty-three per cent use first-floor windows. And oftentimes, those doors and windows aren’t even locked. “The overwhelming number of burglars are unskilled people who go through open or unlocked windows and doors,” says Leonard Sipes, the former director of information services for the National Crime Prevention Council. “Simply locking windows and doors will prevent most burglaries.” There are, however, some more creative ways that sneaky crooks use to bypass locked doors and windows. These are some of the ones home security experts—and homeowners—have experienced.

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Ways burglars break in - burglar peeking in windowPhoto: Shutterstock

They use the land

A secluded backyard is a burglar’s dream… and can be a homeowner’s nightmare, as it was in the case of Brian Shell. Burglars broke into his home in January 2017. “It was done via my back window, which faced a lake, so [there were] no backyard neighbours bordering it,” Shell told Reader’s Digest. One of the burglars threw a moldy tree log through the window to keep their fingerprints off of it, and climbed into the house through the broken window—so burglars are willing to use whatever’s around to break in and maintain secrecy. “My backyard is pretty secluded,” Shell said. “That’s what helped them.”

Here are 13 secrets burglars don’t want you to know.

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Ways burglars break in - fencePhoto: Shutterstock

They climb fences

Seclusion was also the problem for Arizona resident Nancy Gretzinger. At her former home, which was broken into multiple times, “there was an empty lot and cemetery behind the house.” Several houses in her neighbourhood had fences in the backyard with wooden slats, which burglars were easily able to climb to access her property. They broke a window leading to her kitchen and climbed in.

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Ways burglars break in - doggy doorPhoto: Shutterstock

They take a leaf out of your pet’s book

When burglars can’t get in through human entrances to your house, they may try to get in through the animal entrances. Robert Sollars, security expert, knows this all too well. “There are innumerable instances of doors being secured but the burglar coming in through the kitty door,” he advises. “Not all burglars are six-foot-two and 200 pounds. They can slither through those openings as well as a snake.” One of the burglaries Nancy Gretzinger experienced was committed in this very way. “They came in a medium-small doggie door,” she said. So, pet owners, keep your pet doors secure as well.

Here are more home security mistakes that put you at risk.

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Ways burglars break in - burglar opening window with crowbarPhoto: Shutterstock

They find your home’s weaknesses

“A lot of people believe that you need to have a really sturdy front door to prevent burglars from breaking in,” says home security expert Aaron Hall. “While this is a good idea, [many] burglars actually break in through back doors and windows.” If your front door seems impenetrable, a burglar might move on to the other doors, which tend to be weaker than the front one. “Most people’s back doors are the ones that are the least sturdy, and a burglar can kick the door open with one well-placed kick,” warns Hall. Make sure your back door is as sturdy as possible, with a deadbolt in place. Windows, too, can provide easy entry for a burglar foiled by the front door. “Aluminum window sills are easily breakable, so you should think about replacing those if you have them,” Hall suggests.

Here’s more advice on how to outsmart burglars.

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Ways burglars break in - garage door openingPhoto: Shutterstock

They choose less guarded doors

Front and back doors aren’t the only ones burglars can use to access your home and its valuables. “People… forget to protect side doors, back doors, garage doors, and doors that lead into the house from the garage,” says Liz Martinez, a former investigator and criminal justice instructor at Carrington College. She adds that these entrances can also be more beneficial to would-be burglars because they’re better hidden. “Make sure these secondary entrance doors are metal and have appropriate locks,” Martinez advises. “Also, be sure that any other types of entrances are protected, such as skylights.”

Check out these tips for beefing up your car security while you’re at it.

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Sneaky ways burglars break in - burglar with crowbar at windowPhoto: Shutterstock

They get the right tools

“Breaking in” is never a more fitting term than when a burglar encounters a locked door and decides to bust open the door anyway. This is a fairly unlikely method of burglary since it’s more likely to attract suspicion, but a skilled burglar may be able to do it. Some bring tools specifically with the intention of bypassing locks and bolts. “Burglars will often use tools like crowbars or credit cards to slip through locks or pry open entryways,” Hall says. Bruce Ailion, a realtor and attorney, adds, “For [houses] with a standard lock and no other security, the easy way to [gain] access is with a pipe wrench.” Ailion warns that more skilled thieves may even have taken online locksmith courses, or acquired pick guns or bump keys, in hopes of getting past deadbolts. “If that fails, a power drill will get through a deadbolt in a few minutes,” warns Ailion.

Skilled burglars may also have tools specifically for getting through windows: “Windows with old-fashioned locks are easily accessed with a putty knife,” Ailion says. Hall has some advice for foiling even tool-equipped burglars. “The best remedies… are strong doors, window sills, and deadbolt locks,” he says.

Now that you know how burglars break in, find out the most sought-after items on every burglar’s hit list.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest