Why was the house across the street burglarized, but yours was spared? It is probably more than good luck. Joseph Kuhns, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, wanted to find out how burglars chose their targets. So he did the obvious. He asked them. He and his team of researchers interviewed 422 male and female convicted burglars who were incarcerated in the state prison systems in North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio. They were asked about their motivations, methods and techniques, as well as what deters them. The top three reasons a burglar chooses a particular home -- or walks away from it:

1. Proximity
When selecting a target, most burglars said they considered the close proximity of other people, including traffic, people in the house or business, police officers and the lack of escape routes.

2. Increased security
Not surprisingly, burglars paid attention to signs of increased security, including alarm signs, alarms, dogs inside and outdoor cameras or other surveillance equipment.

3. Working alarm system
Approximately 83 percent said they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, while 60 percent said they would seek an alternative target if there were an alarm on-site. This was particularly true among the subset of burglars who were more likely to spend time deliberately and carefully planning a burglary.

Among those who discovered the presence of an alarm while attempting a burglary, half reported they would discontinue the attempt, while another 31 percent said they would sometimes retreat. Only 13 percent said they would always continue with the burglary attempt.

How does a burglar enter a home? Most said they either slipped in through open windows and doors or forced open locked windows and doors. About one in eight said they picked locks or used a key they had previously acquired to gain entry.


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