News 2 I-Team: Convicted intruders tell all

A family’s home left with an eerie feeling after burglars broke in and rummaged through every single room, closet, and drawer.

In a first of its kind crime prevention project in the state of South Carolina, the News 2 I-Team sent dozens of surveys to South Carolina inmates serving time for burglary or breaking and entering. The survey asked how inmates picked their targets; how they got into homes; and how you could stop a crook from breaking into your home.Dogs won't always deter intruders

And with the help of security experts and local police, we spotted weaknesses around homes and learned three key steps to take to protect your house.

The I-Team fired off surveys to 70 inmates serving time in prisons across the state.

Inmate survey results

One thing is clear.

Dog’s won’t necessarily deter them from breaking into homes. A whopping 75 percent told us the size of the dog could deter them. One inmate says he would pack dog treats in his pocket before breaking into homes. Another wrote, “I have had dogs wish to go with me because I was nice to them.”

Our survey found that before breaking in,most intruders knocked, and if someone answered, one of the inmates said he would just lie about why he was there.

According to the FBI, in 2015 there were 7,993,631 property crime offenses in the nation.  Of those only 12.9% of burglary crimes were closed.

While a third of the inmates in our poll say home security systems wouldn’t stop them. Half say video cameras would.

When Melinda Laurens evacuated during Hurricane Matthew she secured her storm shutters, locked her doors, and headed to North Carolina.

Intruders stole medication, guns, and jewelry from their home.
Intruders stole medication, guns, and jewelry from their home.

“They had pluff mud all over their feet so you could see where they had been,” she recounted.  “Every room in our house was torn up.”

The intruders stole medication, several guns, and jewelry. According to the FBI, property crimes in 2015 resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion, and though police responded to investigate, no one has been arrested and none of the items recovered.

Now Melinda is considering a home video security system to replace her traditional alarm system. It’s something police recommend.

“It gives us something to go on,” Summerville Police Department Lt. Nick Santanna explained.

Home security expert, Dean Rommes, says video can also help spot crooks before they even break in.

“We can see them a day before casing the joint,” Rommes explained.

You can also protect yourself by not oversharing.

“Don’t post on social media if you’re going out of town or away from home,” Lt. Santanna said.

Santana says burglars are often someone close enough to be a Facebook friend that may see you’re away from home and take the opportunity to let themselves into your home. nip-burg-3

In our survey, 11 percent reportedly just went right through the front door.  A third responded they looked for French or sliding glass doors. Another third say they would look for a window.

Lt. Santanna says they usually trying to stay out of sight.

“The door they chose is usually under some sort of cover. We usually see them in the back yard.”


Safety Measures

Rommes says his first step in a home audit is to see how many entry points there are to a home. Entry points include windows, doors, and garages.  He’s saying simple steps every day can help you avoid being a victim.

Daily steps:

  • Lock all windows and doors, even if you’re just leaving for a short time
  • Maintain landscaping so would-be burglars don’t have shrubs to hide behind
  • Keep exterior lights in working order

Lt. Santanna says police are seeing a new commodity crooks are looking for.  They search for personal information like bank statements, checks, and social security numbers.

“Once they have that information, they take it and sell it or committing fraud from the information they stole from your residence.”

As for other deterrents like lights on timers when people aren’t home, several inmates reported that didn’t stop them.  A better method, some suggested, is leaving a TV or radio on when a resident was gone.

Find the National Crime Prevention Council home security checklist: here.

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