Chances are you know someone who has had their home burglarized, or perhaps you have been a victim of a home burglary yourself.

Home burglaries almost always leave the victim with a sense of violation, not to mention a deep sadness over the loss of those irreplaceable family heirlooms.

In order to keep your home safe from burglars, you need to understand how a burglar's mind works. I have reviewed several interviews with reformed burglars over the years and have gathered some important information in an attempt to help deter home break-ins. Understanding the criminal mindset can help keep families safe and secure in their own homes.

Burglars quite often start with "curb appeal" elements of a home. They notice unkempt, overgrown landscape that often suggests vacancy. Most burglars prefer to break in during the day when most homes are unoccupied.

Once a prowler has a home in his or her sights, the perpetrator often parks his getaway vehicle on another street and walks to the target home. Once there, he will nonchalantly knock on the door or ring the doorbell to determine if somebody is home.

If someone answers the door, the thief will make up some bogus story, usually related to finding an address or selling something. If nobody answers, chances are the burglar will walk around to the back of the home looking for the easiest, quietest way to gain entry, perhaps through an open window or unlocked door.

Most burglars don't pick locks because they don't have the skill or time. If a burglar can't make his grand entrance within one minute, he usually heads to another location.

Preferred entry is forcing a back door, sliding window or sliding glass door open. Once inside the burglar will usually head to the master bedroom looking for jewelry, money or drugs. Don't hide valuables in a dresser or lingerie drawer, nightstand or under the mattress: These are the first spots a burglar will look.

The next stop may be the living room, dining room or family room, so don't leave easy-to-sell, high-value, compact items such as laptop computers, iPods or cameras lying around or you can be sure to lose them as well.

For the most part, burglars are non-confrontational and will stay away from areas of entrapment, such as basements or attics. In fact, most thieves prefer single-story homes with the master bedroom on the main floor. Corner houses are not a housebreaker's favorite, because they tend to be too visible. They aren't targeted as often as middle-of-the-block homes.

Cul-de-sac homes are more of a target because they are more secluded and usually off the beaten track. Homes on greenbelts are always a burglar's favorite, offering an easy escape. Townhouses are a favorite strictly because they quite often have sliding glass doors with poor locking systems. The also have small, secluded, enclosed back yards, making them a dream come true for sneaky thieves.

But no matter where you live, understanding the mind of a burglar will help you assess and make the necessary changes to your home's security to help keep you and your family safe.

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