A broken window
Some criminals will throw a rock through a house or car window before even trying to break in, just to see what happens, says Joel Logan, COO of Las Vegas-based Reliance Security. If an alarm goes off and neighbours peer outside to see what’s happening, they might be scared off. But if the homeowners are clearly out of the house or the police never arrive, they might break in that night or soon after. Call the police right away if you’re home, and install motion-sensor floodlights for when you aren’t there, Logan recommends. Check out the 10 hiding spots burglars always look first.
A strolling stranger
You probably don’t know everyone in your neighbourhood, but a criminal scoping out the area likely won’t just look like an innocent walker. If someone is walking by repeatedly, check their body language, says Logan. “If you take your dog for a walk, you just walk around the neighbourhood. You’re not always checking behind you or looking over your shoulder,” he says. Pay attention to clothing, too. Most people taking a walk for the sake of fitness will be wearing workout gear, so someone in plainclothes who’s out for long periods of time might be up to no good, adds Everett Stern, intelligence director of private intelligence company Tactical Rabbit. Any time you’re feeling uneasy, call the police, he suggests. It’s better to bring them out of their way for a bit than to regret ignoring the warning signs.
An eager photographer
Beyond just looking jumpy, someone watching your home might be taking pictures. They’ll be documenting hiding spots and how close the houses are together – less space between houses means more chance a neighbour will spot them, says Stern. If you notice strangers acting fishy with their cameras, defend yourself by taking your own picture of them, Logan recommends. “You might get into an argument, but if there’s a person with bad intentions, taking a picture of him is a good chance of scaring them off,” he says. And speaking of cameras, here’s the real likelihood that you’re being watched through your laptop camera.