Your House Was Cased – Now What?
If you’ve noticed signs your house is being cased, it can be scary. Burglary prevention needs to become something of a top priority or you risk someone trying to force their way into your home.
That’s why today we’re going to discuss some common signs someone is casing your house and give a number of break-in prevention tips to help you keep safe.
Common Signs Your House Is Being Cased
Before we get into some of the most common ways to case a house, it needs to be stated we’ll be painting in broad strokes. If you want to keep your home secure, be careful about relying too much on these signs alone.
Criminals are varied. Some are smart and may be subtle in their approach. Others may be brash or downright stupid, doing only basic reconnaissance before attacking.
Sign #1: Parked but Occupied Vehicles
Burglars are looking for signs of an easy target. They also don’t want to get noticed. This means they have to be close to homes they’re casing but can’t really be standing out in the street.
One of the easiest ways to case a location is to park a vehicle nearby and then watch the home. You’ll be hard to notice and will only draw suspicion if people realize you are in your vehicle for a long time.
While this often isn’t illegal on its own, pay close attention to anyone sitting in a vehicle near your house. The longer they do it and the more they do it, the more concern you should have.
Sign #2: A Knock on the Door
Did you know most burglars will knock on your door?
It’s an easy, non-suspicious way to check whether someone is home. Most burglars don’t want a fight; they want a home to be empty before they start looting it.
If someone knocks on your door who you do not know, take careful note of them and their story. Consider asking questions, looking for holes, but do not antagonize someone you are suspicious might a burglar.
Sign #3: Binoculars and Cameras
This one is pretty obvious but anybody aiming binoculars or cameras at your house is suspicious. If they’re not a burglar, they could be law enforcement or a private investigator. No matter what, you should take note.
While this kind of surveillance isn’t illegal in itself (although uncomfortable), it isn’t normal. People often don’t spy on homes for no reason.
Often a good strategy for this type of behavior is to counter with surveillance yourself. We’ll discuss more about getting your own security system later, but the short of it is that “counter-spying” is going to put most burglars off.
Sign #4: Same Faces, Different Day
Depending on where you live, this can be a tough sign to spot.
If the burglars are smart, they may changes clothes and even wear disguises if they are casing a place for multiple days. However, changing your core facial features is hard and most won’t put in the work.
When you start to become suspicious that your place is being cased, pay attention to people in the area. The thing to keep in mind is that not every familiar face is a criminal. Some live or work in your area. That said, staying cognizant of people and anything they do that’s strange will help you spot potential threats.
Sign #5: Strangers in Your Yard
If someone strange is in your yard, especially when you aren’t home, something is wrong. It could be someone making an honest mistake but, unless they have your permission, it’s time to call the police.
More than 50 percent of burglaries are forced entries. A criminal is going to want to find weaknesses in your security and, ideally, a door or window to break open that doesn’t face the road.
Depending on how your home is situated, they may need to walk into your or someone else’s yard to get this information. They also may be looking for more specifics that are hard to get at a distance, like what’s inside your home or any sheds.
What to Do if Someone is Casing Your House
“My house was cased, now what?”
That’s the question you should be asking if you’re even suspicious someone cased your home. An overreaction will only make your home safer. Failing to act when you had a real warning, meanwhile, could get you burgled.
Step #1: Cameras
Our first recommendation is to get cameras installed so as to cover key angles on your property. While internal cameras can help catch criminals if they enter your home, external cameras may be better for deterring them.
The ideal scenario is to have cameras both inside and outside your home. This helps spot suspicious individuals, no matter how thorough they case a home or what their angle of attack.
Remember, your goal is less to catch criminals and more to deter them from striking in the first place. It can be a good idea to make it obvious you have cameras installed. However, make sure there aren’t big blindspots if you do so.
Step #2: A Home Security System
A home security system (and warning stickers that say you have as much) can help further deter criminals. If installed correctly, you can have it such that when any doors or windows are opened, your security goes off.
Security systems can be set to do a number of things but often what they do when tripped is get loud and send an alert to the police. This draws a lot of attention to your home and gets law enforcement on their way.
This all said, don’t make the mistake many homeowners do and think a fake security sticker is enough. Many burglars aren’t spooked by a sticker alone (in part because this is such a common practice).
What really spooks burglars is the sound of an alarm clearly going off. This scares most right off. An alarm means they have a couple of minutes now, rather than hours.
Step #3: Consider a Dog
One interesting element of crime deterrence is burglars don’t like big dogs. A loud dog will often put would-be burglars off if they notice it.
While not viable for everyone, a dog can offer a great deal of security. It may do you even better if you get it trained for such tasks, although that’s a lot of work for most families.
Keep in mind, the dog has to be big and scary. An interview with convicted criminals by KVTB7 news, linked earlier, showed most were indifferent to smaller dogs, loud or not.
Step #4: The Illusion of Occupation Helps
Signs a person is in a home deters most burglars. One good way to help do this is to set up an automated system where your home has slights turn off and on, giving the illusion you’re home.
Even better would be if you can get a TV or radio to play somewhat loud on occasion. Most criminals won’t risk it being an automated trick (especially since it most often isn’t) and will seek easier targets.
Step #5: Talk to the Neighbors
If you think burglars are casing your house, the odds are good that they’re also casing other homes in the neighborhood. If that’s the case, you had better warn others in your community.
Talking to your neighbors, or sending letters (anonymously if you want), detailing what you think is happening can save people a lot of grief. It may also drive the burglars off if they realize the community has grown wise to them.
There isn’t much downside to doing this either. A more alert neighborhood is usually a safer one. If you’re worried the burglars may live nearby and get angry, sending the letters without your attached name should be easy enough.
A Word of Warning
There are two things you may want to keep in mind if you suspect your home has been cased.
While you can report suspicious people, it will be difficult for the police to act unless you have evidence that a crime was committed.
It’s different if you have seen or, better, recorded a person walking on your property or trying to break in already. But if you have only seen people sitting in cars or spending time in the area, that often won’t be enough to go on.
Second, don’t engage burglars in any direct conflict, even verbally. While many will run away if spotted, some might get angry and violent.
Home Security Helps Keep You Safe
If you notice signs your house is being cased, it’s time to review your security and make sure it is adequate. Good security is a great crime deterrent, whether your home is being cased or not.
If you’re interested in learning about how our DIY security systems work, click here. You can customize your system to fit your wants and needs, helping you to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your belongings.