SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - To protect your home against burglars, sometimes it helps to think like a crook. So, who better to offer crime prevention tips than convicted thieves themselves.
News 8's Jeff Zevely reports on eight tactics thieves don't want you to know:
Here's what we've learned, as a homeowner there are simple things you can do to make burglars want to steal from some place else. How do we know this? Convicted burglars in jail from across the country came clean with the top eight tricks.
Thieves who steal from homes look for much more than piled up newspapers at your front door.
Jessica Turner, a Crime Prevention Specialist for the Sheriff's Department, says a simple strategy will harden your home:
"Make it so they want to go somewhere else. Burglars say they are not going to show up to your house looking like this. Instead they'll try to blend in and pretend to be someone working in your community."
Chances are they'll either ring a door bell or knock to see if you're home.
According burglars serving time in jail, if you are smart, you'd leave your television on really loud before leaving the house - even if you're going to be gone for just a few minutes.
Sgt. Dan Deese with the Sheriff's Department suspects there are three groups of burglars working the North County right now, including the crooks who broke into an Escondido home weeks ago and killed a Chihuahua with a BB gun. That case remains unsolved, but the teeth and nails of the dog named peanut were swabbed for DNA.
"If DNA is found in the nails, it would hopefully come back to a suspect and that would put that suspect in the house at the time of the burglary," explained Deese.
Burglars admit they're normally scared away by barking dogs and nosy neighbors.
Sometimes they don't even need a key to your home.
"Burglars love it when your security panel is on the outside of your house, because that way they can steal your individual pin code. Yes they are casing your house," explained Deese.
And when they do get in, they don't look in your children's rooms for the loot. Nine times out of 10, your valuables are waiting for them in an obvious hiding spot. And here's another tip: burglars work rain or shine.
"The weather doesn't stop them, time of day doesn't stop them, any kind of opportunity and they take it," noted Deese.
And that includes praying upon your good will. So burglars say never let a stranger use your toilet, because once they have access to your house they could do something like unlock a window.
Finally, experts say burglars just love it when you announce your vacations on Facebook.
The Sheriff's Department will conduct residential vacation checks on your home. It's a free program while you're away on vacation. Their senior volunteers will be more than happy to stop by your home, pick up your newspapers and make sure everything looks alright.