Hollywood tends to romanticize burglars and thieves as shadowy, black-clad professionals who slip effortlessly behind shadows. Movie burglars evade the most advanced security systems, take whatever fantastic heirloom they've planned for months to steal, and they either escape scot-free silent or they flee in an awesome computer-generated action extravaganza.
In reality, though, George Clooney they're not. Mostly, they're just desperate individuals looking for easy targets to make that quick buck.
But this doesn't mean they're any less a menace. In fact, according to the FBI, break-ins are still the most common threats to our homes with about 2 million home burglaries reported each year in the U.S. alone! That's one every 15 seconds, folks!
It is extremely vital then that we separate truth from movie fiction so we could plan accordingly and better secure our homes.
Here are common burglar myths we've collected and the reality behind them.
1. Break-ins only occur at night or when somebody's home
In the Stanley Kubrick movie "A Clockwork Orange," we see a gang forcibly enter a home in the dead of the night by tricking the owners into letting them in.
Although home intrusions like the one portrayed in the movie are certainly plausible, the truth is that a large percentage of break-ins occur during the day while the homeowners are away at work or school. Although darkness gives good cover, about 60 percent of reported burglaries happen in daylight while the houses are vacant.
Studies also show that most burglars ring doorbells in target homes first because they tend to avoid occupied houses. Unless they are really looking for a bit of the ultraviolence, burglars avoid unnecessary confrontations and would prefer to come and go with as little fanfare as possible.
2. Burglars sneak in through windows
Thanks to Hollywood, people tend to imagine burglars as stealth masters who could pry any locked window open, but research shows that burglars use the front or back door as an entry point 56 percent of the time, 34 percent of these are from the front door.
Burglars either look for a spare key or if they can't find one, they just force and kick their way through. More distressingly, burglars just walk in through an unlocked door 32 percent of the time. So make sure you lock your doors all the time even when you're home, or better yet, install entry sensors to alert you whenever a door is opened.
But when burglars do use windows to sneak in (23 percent of the time), they don't use fancy glass cutters or special lock picking tools like in the movies. They simply smash and break the glass in. This is why it is vital that you bar your windows and sliding doors and install glass breakage sensors around their vicinities.
3. Burglars take their time
Most burglars are just petty criminals who are on the lookout for easy opportunities to break-in. They don't usually plan elaborate "The Italian Job" style heists nor are they savvy professionals who case a place for months on end.
They keep an eye out for instant targets like vacant houses with unsecured doors and no apparent security systems. Researchers say that burglars don't like spending more than 60 seconds breaking in. If they can't get in within a minute, they usually give up. Barred windows, security grills, deadbolt locks, and security system signs are good deterrents against casual burglars.
In the event that they do get in, burglars typically don't lounge and hang around a victim's home. The average time for a burglary is a pretty quick eight minutes. They're in and out with their loot in no time at all.
4. Burglars always like big-ticket electronics
In the movies, thieves employ disguised vans and getaway trucks to haul their loot to a waypoint where a helicopter awaits.
In reality, burglars usually only take what they can easily carry like cash, jewelry, mobile phones and tablets, firearms, small appliances, laptops, and computers. If they can't easily transport and sell an item, then they won't even bother hauling it out.
So that big 100-inch 4K UHD television set in your living room? Unless it's a group of determined burglars with a vehicle standing by, it will probably be ignored.
Items they do manage to steal are moved within short distances to avoid suspicion and they are disposed of within 24 hours. Goods are sold either through pawnshops and direct buyers.
Also, since burglars don't want to spend too much time inside a house, researchers say they often target and locate the master bedroom first since that is where cash and jewelry are traditionally kept.
5. Burglars can bypass security systems
We all know the toughest security systems in the world can't deter "Mission Impossible's" Ethan Hunt. He scales skyscrapers, evades laser systems, survives air deprivation chambers easily, all with his Tom Cruise eyes firmly on the prize.
The truth is, you don't need complicated security devices to deter the common burglar.
Cameras, alarms, and a solid security system are enough to protect your home from most break-ins. Research says that these criminals usually assess if a home has a security system first before they even attempt a break-in.
If they do attempt to break-in and an alarm sounds off, most burglars flee instantly. In fact, nine times out of 10, burglars who can't get past a security system will just give up.
On the flip side, houses without security systems are three times more likely to be broken into.
To better protect your home from these real-life burglars, a complete security system is your best bet. But it does not need to be cumbersome nor expensive.
For as low as 50 cents a day, SimpliSafe's wireless security system will ensure the safety of your home around the clock.
With no contracts and no lock-in periods, SimpliSafe will provide 24/7 live alarm monitoring and a constant connection to your security system via cellphone.
SimpliSafe is easy to install too. All it takes is about 15 minutes and it won't require drilling nor wires. And it's totally expandable. You could begin with their starter packages and build it up from there or even start from scratch with a customized system.
Their core components include a Base Station, a Wireless Keypad, and a Master Keychain Remote. Just add protective sensors like entry sensors, motion sensors, and glass break sensors, as needed. Plus, you could add non-security sensors like fire, freeze and carbon monoxide to keep you safe as well as secure.
The Complete Protection Package comes with a Base Station, Wireless Keypad, two Keychain Remotes, three Motion Sensors, six Entry Sensors, a Glass Break Sensor, and a Panic Button. That's everything you need right out of the box.