Reinforce Security at Home by Thinking Like an Intruder

Electronic Security Association (ESA) provides home safety tips for Crime Prevention Month.

Irving, Texas (Oct. 25, 2012) - In the most recent Uniform Crime Report published by the FBI, there were more than nine million property crimes reported in 2010. That translates to one property crime every 3.5 seconds. Burglary was the second most reported offense out of all reported crimes in 2010.

Thanks to technology and innovative security measures, homeowners don't have to become a part of the burglary statistic. In honor of Crime Prevention Month (October), the Electronic Security Association (ESA) offers homeowners insight into the mind of a burglar, along with tips for reducing the risk of a burglary.

Most home intrusions can be classified as random opportunistic acts - not planned events. Homeowners can protect against a home intrusion by looking at the weaknesses of their home from an intruder's point of view. Here are a few questions an intruder might ask when deciding on a house to target.

Is anyone home?

The first thing many intruders do is check to see if anyone is home. Sometimes the intruder will simply knock on the front door. If someone answers, the intruder may make up an excuse for the disturbance, such as being lost and needing directions. If no one answers, the intruder may do further research to ensure the home is vacant. He or she may look into windows and listen for the sound of someone watching television. Other times, if the knock at the door goes unanswered, the intruder may try his or her luck at an unlocked door. Three out of 10 times, he or she will hit the jackpot and walk right in.

Homeowners should try to make their homes appear occupied at all times. Timers for inside lights and televisions serve as easy solutions. Another effective and cost-efficient measure to consider is motion sensor lights. Placing these lights in dark areas outside of the home may scare away potential intruders lurking in the shadows.

Is the home equipped with an alarm system?

A 2009 study by the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice found that an installed burglar alarm makes a dwelling less attractive to would‐be and active intruders and protects the home without displacing burglaries to nearby homes. Additionally, the Cromwell-Olson-Avary study, conducted to better understand offenders' perception of the risks and rewards involved in criminal activity, found that nearly all convicted intruders (90 percent) admitted that they would avoid homes that are equipped with alarm systems. Additionally, the study revealed that if a potential intruder sees a yard sign or window decal from a credible security company outside of a home, around 75 percent would think twice about going through with an attack. But signs and decals aren't enough to deter an intruder; alarm systems are the best protection against home intrusion.

To aid them in their security needs, ESA urges homeowners to enlist a security company that is a member of ESA. ESA member companies are experienced professionals and must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct. To ensure maximum protection, an ESA member company will recommend and install a system that accommodates both the features of the home and the homeowner's lifestyle. Homeowners can find an ESA member company in their area by visiting, an online home security resource for consumers.

What is the easiest way to break in?

On average, intruders will spend no more than 60 seconds breaking into a home, since a longer attempt may result in detection by a neighbor or passerby. First, they will seek out unlocked or open doors and windows - even on the second or third floor - that can be accessed by a ladder. And sometimes, a standard locked door or window won't always be enough to stop them. Homeowners should consider upgrading to deadbolts and reinforcing the frame of their front door to make a break-in more strenuous for the intruder.

Will anyone notice?

Intruders tend to target homes that they can get away from easily. For an intruder, an ideal home would be located in a dark, lifeless neighborhood with good hiding places and escape paths, such as overgrown bushes or trees in the yard.

Hiding areas can be eliminated by keeping the landscaping neatly trimmed and using outdoor lights so the home is well-lit at night. Homeowners are encouraged to start or join a neighborhood watch group. These groups can help reduce the risk of home intrusion for everyone in the community.

By enhancing the home's security features with electronic timers, motion sensor lighting and a professionally installed security system, homeowners can protect their property and keep their family safe from crime. Visit for more helpful tips on safety and security.


Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at

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