People invest money in home security systems, cameras, and other products designed to deter break-ins. The big question is whether or not it makes a difference. One news media source did some investigating on this topic and you may be surprised what they found.

The Oregon Department of Corrections is home to numerous inmates convicted of burglary. Eighty-six of these inmates were asked to answer a series of questions from an anonymous questionnaire. The information collected can help homeowners to take precautions for the protection of their homes and belongings. 


The questions:

How did you typically break into the home or apartment?

Once inside, what was the first thing you would look to steal?

Where did you look for hidden valuables?

What time of day did you prefer to break in?

Did home protection or security signs posted outside the home deter you?

Did pets in the home, like a dog, make you think twice?

Did you typically knock on the front door before breaking into a home?

If someone answered the door, what would you do or say?

If there was a security camera visible, would it keep you from breaking in?

Did lights on in the home make you think twice/

If you heard a radio or TV inside the home, would you still break in?

Would it make a difference if there was a vehicle in the driveway?

What was your ideal target for a burglary?

Did you ever do surveillance on a target?

If you did surveillance, what were you trying to figure out?

What is the one thing that a homeowner can do to avoid being burglarized?


The investigators were able to conclude that the largest deterrent seemed to be the perception that someone is home. All of the inmates claimed to knock on doors prior to breaking in to make sure the house is empty. They would tend to enter through an unlocked door or window. There was mention of window air conditioners. If force was required many would rather kick a door down than to break a window. They would typically head straight to the master bedroom to search for cash and jewelry. Cameras weren't always a deterrent because many burglars cover their face and any tattoos, and they also would destroy clothing after the break in. Cameras also indicate the presence of valuables inside. Obvious valuables are the main target such as electronics and jewelry, but also firearms and weapons. The presence of a dog didn't always deter a burglar, though many would not break in if a large loud dog were in the home. Many inmates would leave immediately if an alarm went off, but others claimed to disable alarms. Lights on, cars in the driveway, and an audible TV would pretty much always deter a burglar, as it would indicate that somebody was in the home. Large homes that are secluded with limited visibility were considered targets. 


There are things that a homeowner can do to make their home less appealing to burglars. Many home burglaries go unsolved, which makes it a relatively "safe" crime to commit, and very enticing to thieves. To read the whole article and excerpts from the inmate responses, click here. It can help you to keep your home safe.