How to get burglars to rob your house
A tongue-in-cheek look at the things people do that almost invite burglars into their home.
Being burglarized is almost never a good thing. The idea of someone breaking into your home, rummaging through your stuff, and taking all the choice bits is unpleasant. Most people whose homes have been burglarized will tell you that the worst part isn't the loss of stuff, which can be replaced, but the loss of their feeling of security.
But what if you wanted to be burglarized?
Why would you want your home broken into? Let's say you wanted to sell all of your possessions. How long would that take? A week? A month? Imagine if you could sell them all in one day for $500? Would you do it? If the answer is yes and you have insurance, skip the pleasantries and just get robbed!
Anything of value would be gone, you wouldn't even need to pack it, and you're on the hook only for the deductible. Think of it as a nontraditional garage sale. So, how do you entice a burglar to come rob your house? It's remarkably easy!
Leave valuables in plain sight. Push your expensive television by the window so people who walk by can see it. There's a reason why stores put their best stuff in the window displays -- to entice shoppers. Take a page from the department store playbook and make your home an attractive prospect for "shoppers" passing by. Robbers hate going into a home and finding out the TV is one of those heavy tube TVs from the '90s. Make sure you put your new, light LCD by the window and, for good measure, tape one of those new iPods to it.
Take no precautions when away. If you go on a long vacation, anything longer than a week, don't stop your mail. Don't ask your neighbors to mow your lawn or take fliers from your door or mailbox. Burglars look for signs that a home has been unoccupied for a long time, and the two telltale signs are an uncut lawn and accumulated fliers or mail.
If you are planning no trips in the future, just go for a long weekend and leave some junk lying around. Fliers stuck in the door plus an LCD in the window -- that's a doorbuster if I've ever heard of one.
Hide a spare key. No one likes a broken window or a busted door. Burglars know that's noisy and messy; homeowners know it's an unnecessary expense. So leave a key hidden somewhere nearby. The best places are under large conspicuous rocks near the door or underneath the doormat. There's no sense forcing a robber to break a window or kick down a door.
Leave a note. Just stepping out for a minute? Waiting on a package but you're not going to be home? Leave a note to say when you'll be back. That way thieves will know how much time they have. Gone to the store and you'll be back about 5 p.m.? Awesome, better snatch what I can before 4:45 -- or better yet, 4:55, the burglars will think, because you'll probably be late with traffic and all.
Just don't be early. You want to give the shoppers as much time to browse without having them feel rushed.
Leave a status update. It seems innocuous, right? "Hey, everyone, going to the beach for the weekend!" is just a note to your friends that you're going to the beach and they're staying at home (nyah nyah!). It's also an invitation for a burglar to break into your house.
How many people do you trust on your Facebook friends list? What about on Twitter, where anyone can see your messages? Do you have your name listed on your account? How about the city and state where you live? This is especially important if you have some unsavory characters on your friends list from Mafia Wars.
If you do all of the things on this list, you are almost guaranteed to be burglarized. If you aren't, there are only two reasons: You live in too nice an area, and/or you don't own anything worth stealing. In either case, unfortunately you may have to go with one of the more traditional ways of getting rid of your stuff.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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