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35 Things You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglars

These not-so-obvious indicators will make your home a target for thieves.

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The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsPeter Gudella/Shutterstock

Leaving trash visible in garbage cans

Setting out the box from your new 60-inch HDTV or high-end gaming console on the curb is basically advertising the fact that those items are in your home. As electronics are the second thing burglars go for (cash is number one), this makes your home an attractive target, according to the study. So buy a cheap box cutter and invest the 30 seconds it takes to break down large boxes and bundle them together so their labels can’t be seen. Plus, your garbage man will thank you! I’m a burglar—here’s how to outsmart me.

a view of a row of historic brownstones in an iconic neighborhood of Manhattan, New York CityBrian Goodman/Shutterstock

Sometimes just living on your street

Homes in high-visibility places, like on corner lots, are far less likely to be broken into. There are simply too many potential ways to be seen. But townhomes, houses in the middle of the block, or houses in a cul-de-sac are much better targets. This is especially true if your property backs up to a forest, open lot, or another unguarded area. The trick, according to Secure Life, is to make your house as difficult as possible to access. This means installing high fences and lots of lighting. Learn 13 sneaky things FBI agents do to protect their homes.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsJirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Posting vacation pics

Forty percent of people admit to posting pics while out of town, according to Nationwide. And while putting your vacation pictures online might get you a lot of likes, it also notifies your friends and acquaintances that you’re now far from home, making your house a prime target for anyone with ill intentions or just an opportunistic streak. Instead, make sure your social media profiles aren’t public and wait to post your beautiful beach selfies until you get home. Plus, find out the things smart homeowners do before going on vacation.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

A stuffed mailbox

It takes two minutes online or on the phone to put a hold on your mail while you’re gone and subvert the number one signal burglars look for: an overflowing porch or mailbox. These are the hiding spots burglars check first.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsV J Matthew/Shutterstock

Your yard gives a lot of clues

Love those flowers. That says you have taste…and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have. By the way, this is the most common time for burglaries—and it’s not at night.

Newspaper on the stepsLarry Powell/Shutterstock

Letting newspapers and flyers build up

Yes, burglars really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And they might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it. Here are more sneaky signs someone’s watching your house.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsKaren Grigoryan/Shutterstock

Not locking the door

According to SafeGuardTheWorld, a professional preventative security company, around 30 percent of burglaries involve a burglar entering through an unlocked door. It seems silly to have to say it but people forget to lock the door sometimes and it becomes ripe for the picking. Try these 22 inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsScott Latham/Shutterstock

Leaving a window cracked

You might want to keep the house cool and save some money by not running the air conditioning, but you’re setting your home up as a target even if the window is left open a crack. Watch out for these other sneaky—and not-so-sneaky!—ways burglars can break into your house.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglarspockethifi/Shutterstock

Having a wide open backyard

A backyard without a fence or one that opens up to a wooded area is prime for burglars to target. It’s relatively easy to move in and out of, plus the woods will make an escape easier. Here are 12 things to never keep in your backyard.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsDewitt/Shutterstock

Keeping a window A/C unit

Window units are great at cooling smaller spaces but their also great for thieves to knock out of the way and grab any loot inside a home.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsMtsyri/Shutterstock

Leaving expensive stuff in sight

It should go without saying but anything of value shouldn’t be left in view from the outside. Burglars will often case a house before breaking in and if your home has valuable items out, the likelihood of it getting ribbed just went up. These are the 12 most sought-after items on every burglar’s hit list.

Garage DoorRonTech3000/Shutterstock

Forgetting to lock the garage door

Be sure to lock each garage door, including the one that leads to the backyard because thieves will use any entry point to gain access.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsMultifacetedGirl/Shutterstock

Leaving spare keys in obvious places

You might want to consult this list of obvious hiding places before deciding where to keep a spare key because burglars are definitely going to check the cliche spots.

Man hand holding a wooden blinds decoration in livingroomTitikul_B/Shutterstock

Forgetting to keep up with appearances

If you normally leave your blinds or drapes open during the day and close them the day you leave for vacation, that could be a calling card for burglars that no one is home. “I recommend a mix of open, partially open, and close,” says Emily Long, safety expert at SafeWise. “Open blinds that provide full views of TVs, computers, and other valuables can tempt burglars, while partially open blinds provide privacy and security as well as let interior light out, giving the illusion that you are home.” Learn more ways to make it look like you’re home and fool burglars.

Beagle puppy looking through pet flapSteve Lovegrove/Shutterstock

Leaving an opening through the dog door

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 and creator of, 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 6-foot-2 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 way. “They came in through a medium-small doggie door,” she said. So, pet owners, keep your pet doors secure as well. If worse comes to worst and a burglar does manage to enter your home, make sure your valuables are not in the first room burglars check.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglarsmacondo/Shutterstock

Leaving fresh snow

If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. According to experts, these are the best security systems that will help to protect your home and your family.

Elegant stone walkway bordered by stone benches leading to a double glass paned front door with two large front lanternsBobkeenan Photography/Shutterstock

Glass doors are thieves’ best friends

If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where a burglar can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy. Glass doors will rob you in energy costs, too.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsSomsak Sarabua/Shutterstock

Leaving your blinds open

Burglars love looking in your windows. They’re looking for signs that you’re home or gaming systems they’d like. Burglars will drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick their targets. Learn the 10 spots smart homeowners install security cameras.

Close-up of open door to cozy

Forgetting to secure patio doors

Patio door locks are easy to pick. Placing a heavy-duty stick in the door track will bar the door closed, but it looks crude and it’s inconvenient to remove every time you want to open the door. Fortunately, there’s a better way to get the security you need.

Andersen Corp.’s auxiliary foot lock fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet to hold the door secure. A similar lock, the Door Guardian attaches at the top of the door. Both locks allow the door to open three inches without compromising security. Installation takes about ten minutes. Screw the bracket containing the pin to the door, then drill holes and insert grommets in the track for the pin to slide into.

Garage door PVC. Hand use remote controller for closing and opening garage door.GagoDesign/Shutterstock

Keeping the clicker in the car

A thief who breaks into your car can grab the remote for easy access to your garage. This isn’t just a problem when your car is parked in the driveway; the registration card in your glove box gives a crook your address.

So get rid of the remote on your visor and buy a keychain remote. You can easily take it with you every time you leave the car. Home centers stock only a small selection of remotes, but you’ll find more online. Start your search by typing in the brand of your opener, followed by “remote.” Watch out for these other things car thieves won’t tell you.

Glass vase of neglected dying roses on the window ledge of a modern home.Andrew Bret Wallis/Shutterstock

Flowers starting to wilt

While your friends and neighbors can pick up the mail, grab the paper, create tracks in the snow, etc., your flowers might get overlooked. A thief in the area will wise up to what’s going on when they spot a few wilted flowers.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglarschanon83/Shutterstock

Lawn hasn’t been mowed for a while

If you have someone routinely mow your lawn, you don’t have to worry about it overgrowing while you’re on vacation, but if you think you can get away with it for a long time, think again. Thieves will notice just as quickly as your neighbors what an eyesore your lawn has become. The neighbors might talk about it with each other but a thief is going to use it as an excuse to check in on the rest of your house.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsWolfgang Zwanzger/Shutterstock

Leaving the house dim

Some people want to leave a dim light on while they’re away on vacation as a deterrent to break-ins. The debate rages on whether it’s better to leave lights on or off but one thing’s for sure, those dim lights at night are going to be dim during the day and any smart burglar will notice that. Find out the other secrets burglars don’t want you to know.

cut a hedgeLianeM/Shutterstock

Bushes are overgrown

Overgrown bushes leave a lot of hiding spots for burglars who are planning a heist. It might be a pain to trim them back but it’ll make your yard look better and improve security. Here are some other ways your yard is giving burglars clues.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsJulie Clopper/Shutterstock

Having a home business

If you have a home business there are additional precautions to take since there will be an additional accumulation of assets, cash might be on hand, there might not be a safe or thousands of dollars of product might be sitting in a garage. A thief will spot a home business that does or doesn’t have signage. This is why home security signs could actually be doing more harm than good.

wooden stool in green Gardenponsulak/Shutterstock

Leaving stools in the backyard

They make reaching windows a lot easier for would-be thieves.

old radio and alarm-clock on the book on old sideboardadpePhoto/Shutterstock

Leaving radio on

Just like with leaving the lights dimmed, leaving a radio on or even on a timer isn’t going to deter a thief. It might even attract them if the radio plays non-stop. Many thieves still knock on the door to make sure no one is home before they enter a house.

keys for home and car hang on a metal hook rustycanuck/Shutterstock

Keeping keys on a hook next to the door

Keys in that close of proximity to a window is a terrible idea because that will give a burglar access to all sorts of goodies in addition to what’s in the house. Plus, learn the sneaky way thieves are targeting your car-key fob.

Two Male Friends Sit On Sofa And Watch Sports On TelevisionMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Having neighbors over and neighbors’ friends

Word can get out quickly who’s got what in a house. It might not be whoever was in the house is a burglar but word could get down to a person looking for some quick cash.

Aluminum ladder leaning against white garage door, with strong shadow and warm natural sun light55Ohms/Shutterstock

Leaving tools out

Don’t leave ladders next to the shed or next to the garage—you don’t want to make the burglar’s job easier. Check out the best home safes security experts use in their own homes.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsGKRPHOTO/Shutterstock

Obituaries in the paper

A poster on Reddit mentioned that their deceased grandfather’s home got burglarized the day of the grandfather’s funeral. It might be helpful to have someone keep an eye on the house.

A Round Trampoline on the Back Yard GrassTraseRRR/Shutterstock

Toys in yard

It means there are children and likely a mother with jewelry.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for BurglarsSusan Law Cain/Shutterstock

Having a corner house

A house with one neighbor is a lot more attractive than one with two to a burglar. Find out the difference between burglary and robbery.

The 35 Things You Don’t Know You’re Doing That Make Your House a Target for Burglarsgoodluz/Shutterstock

Having hired help

A maid or tradesman could be giving out information about your place.

Burglar wearing black clothes and leather coat breaking in a housesdecoret/Shutterstock

Not doing anything after a burglary in the area

Burglars often return to the same area after the initial burglary.


  • Emily Long, safety expert at SafeWise
  • Robert Sollars, security expert and creator of
  • Reddit: “Burglars of reddit, what are the best ways to keep you out of my house ?”
The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman