Burglars take to food, family photos

September 25, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

Picture this: The very scoundrel who has slipped through your basement window, rifled through your drawer of undies and pocketed your wedding earrings, your grandmother's amethyst locket and your father's high school ring is now hunkered down at the kitchen table helping himself to a quart of milk and the bag of Oreos you had stashed away in the pantry.

While stuffing his fat face, he's smearing his greasy paws all over your family photos.

No make-believe this. The Nos. 1 and 2 extracurricular activities of your everyday home burglar during the actual theft are browsing through family photos (32 percent) and foraging through the contents of your fridge (27 percent). That, according to a prison poll of 191 burglars, conducted by the folks who publish the bimonthly Special Report, a magazine published by Knoxville-based Whittle Communications.

Look what else these people have to say about the bad business of burglarizing:

How much time they spent, on average, in each house they robbed: less than 20 minutes (70 percent); 20 to 45 minutes (23 percent); more than 45 minutes (7 percent).

What some burglars, surprisingly, say they wouldn't take: stereos, TVs and other electronic appliances; clothes; credit cards; cars (even if the keys were available); guns; anything that might be of sentimental value; children's piggy banks.

What time of day they favored for burglaries: morning (46 percent); midday (18 percent); afternoon (10 percent); evening (10 percent); night (16 percent).

What kind of weather they thought was best for burglaries: rainy (41 percent); sunny and warm (25 percent); cold (16 percent); windy (8 percent); other (10 percent).

What discouraged them most effectively from breaking into a house: a barking dog, either inside or nearby (59 percent); security or alarm-system stickers on the windows (27 percent); knowledge that the residents were armed (6 percent); other, including the closeness of neighboring houses, heavy traffic on the street, a hunch that something was wrong, someone who answered the phone or door, a vehicle in the driveway or yard (8 percent).

What burglars would do to protect their own homes against burglary, in descending order of importance: get a dog; install an alarm system; hire a security agency to monitor the alarm; keep the TV and other appliances on when no one is home; put automatic timers on the lights; put automatic timers on the TV and other appliances; keep the lights on when no one is home; keep a loaded gun in the house.

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