When you leave your overpriced panelák in the morning, do you check to see if all the doors and windows are locked? You should. 95% of all burglaries happen during the day.
In the modern world, police statistics tell us that in a 20 year period, three out of every four homes will be burglarized. In fact, theft is the top crime here in the Czech Republic.
How can you take action against those odds?
For some answers, Think Magazine shares some confessions from the criminals themselves. Is your home vulnerable to burglary? Who knows better than a burglar? We asked a couple of Czech burglars, one retired, one active and one in custody, to give us the low-down on house-breaking here in the Czech Republic.
First, they choose a suitable target. Burglars say homes hidden by trees make good targets because they can stash stolen goods in the bushes until they get everything they want out of the house. Also apartments where there are large concentrations of foreigners and working professionals and few nosy babickas, so that they can work unmolested.
One tactic described by the active burglar is how he befriends building owners or maintenance people so he can get access to the keys. That's why most Czech apartments have 2 or more locks, that and the fact that local insurance companies won't pay out on apartments that have been burgled and have only one key.
They also look for homes and apartments with a vent or skylight on top of the roof. Once they get through any alarms there might be... they're in scott free. Here's what some former burglars say they look for:
Johan: "Mostly the ones I look for were the ones with newspaper supplements built up on the porch. Lights are off, no cars in the driveway."
Lukáš: "If the drapes were open, you sit and wait, and you watch and see if you see people walk by."
Jan: "Hallway light on, all other lights off at all times. You go up there and knock on the door. I don't hear anybody and the phone keeps ringing then I know, more or less, in a fact, nobody is at the home."
Burglars also listen for the message on your answering machine. It's a good idea to turn the volume down because once they figure out no one is home, they look for ways to get inside. A very common method of entry is to look for air conditioners that can be pushed in through the house.
Or they'll crawl from balcony to balcony to your place. And in the suburbs, automatic garage doors are easy to just lift up... allowing easy access into your home. Thieves also use stolen garage door openers. They take them off your sun visor, then come back later.
"I just go through the garage door, close it, stay in the house a little while. Make sure I got everything." Says Lukáš. Sliding bolts will keep thieves out, but if you don't have one, here's what you can do. "This is what I do at my house, inside the bars that unfold to open it up, you can put a padlock in there."
As popular as the garage door is, burglars like sliding glass doors even better. "It is very easy there... move them back and forth and it unlocks the door. What people should do is get the little railings that set on the ground, get them about 4cm higher."
How safe are roll out windows? The burglars confess they haven't been able to get into one of those without breaking them. But the locks on older-style windows tend to break easily, giving burglars easy access.
Your home doesn't have to be a castle with a moat to keep burglars out, but you can make it difficult to break in. "Too much time is what it is all about," stresses Jan.
"I stay away when I see motion detectors in the doorway, also when I see triple locks. Get an alarm and a dog, or what you find often up by Dejvická is silent house alarms where they have the stickers in front of the house. That is how I was captured."
If you get an alarm, place it high on the front of your house near a window if possible. That way, anyone tampering with it would be seen.
"By having it real low on the side of the house with the gate like that, I know I would be able to do something like take it out." Offers Johan. "Just protect all your property always, protect your house, be smart about it, because guys like me, this is how we earn our bread, you know?"
Where do the burglars look for the loot? A prison poll of 300 burglars in the States showed that the master bedroom is their first stop. They look in pockets, under the bed, mattresses and rugs.
Everywhere you think your stuff is safe.