midsection of a burglar entering a sliding door using a crowbar

As of August 2022, according to the New Zealand Police Force, crimes involving burglaries have been on the rise. Being robbed is one of the worst things that can happen to a homeowner or resident. The stress of having to replace valuables, combined with the discomfort of having your privacy invaded, can easily ruin anyone’s week. This is why a good security system is important, or at the very least, being aware of some things that a burglar may look for when choosing a place to rob. That way, you can lower the risk of coming home to find your windows smashed, doors open, and belongings gone.


a house at night with the lights on

One thing that burglars will look for when scouting for houses to rob is occupancy. Thieves will often take time to familiarise themselves with an area before they commit to a robbery. They will stake out houses and look for signs of occupancy. If a house has no cars in its driveway, or no lights on at night. Then this may signal to a burglar that the home is empty and thus a potential target.

The main reason burglars might target unoccupied homes is that there is less risk of being caught or confronted by the homeowner. If avoiding confrontation is the goal, then stealing from an unoccupied home is a great way to do this. There will be no one to confront the robber, and there will be no one to notice that the robbery has happened until later, allowing the burglar more time to escape.

What can you do?

A solution to this issue would be to find ways to help your home look occupied, even when it isn’t. Make sure that mail is brought in and not left to pile up, invest in a security light for your property, or even consider leaving a light on in the house when you are out at night. These small things can help your home to look occupied and can potentially deter a thief from coming any closer.

Points of Entry

an image of a house with its window open, a sheer curtain is blowing out of the open window

Another thing that a burglar may look for when scouting for homes to rob is convenience. Why take the time and risk the noise of breaking into a house if there is an unlocked door or open window to sneak through?

Points of entry and exit will be important to a burglar, and will greatly impact whether they chose to rob a home. Having to break a window or door to get into a home can be noisy and could alert either homeowners or neighbours to the robbers presence. Often the burglar will first do a loop of the house and look for any open windows or unlocked doors. If they can get in and out silently and without leaving any obvious sign of their presence, then there is less chance of them being detected or tracked down in the aftermath. Additionally, breaking a window could be dangerous, as broken glass could cut a robber or tear a piece off their clothes and leave evidence of their presence at the scene.

While open windows and unlocked doors are the first port of call a robber may make, that does not mean that they will be deterred by locks. If they cannot find an open door or window, they will next look for easy points of entry such as garage doors or simply doors with flimsy or easily pickable locks. A door that can easily be bypassed and entered will often be the point that a robber chooses for their entry, if easier options are not available.

What can you do?

Always be sure to double check doors and windows around your house before going out or going to bed, it can be easy to accidentally leave something open or unlocked, so checking can never hurt. Investing in durable and high quality lock systems can also be helpful as they can help to cut off an intruders easy access to your home.


a suburban house is hidden behind the foliage of a group of pine trees

Isolation and visibility is another important factor which can influence whether a burglar decides to strike your house. When scouting an area for potential houses to rob, burglars will take note of homes which are more hidden from view. Homes with no outside lights, homes which are out of the way of street lights, and homes that are hidden away by other buildings or trees, are all locations which will stand out to a burglar.

The last thing that a robber wants is to be caught in the act, whether that be having someone catch them inside the house, or simply having someone witness them attempting or succeeding to break inside. This is why they will look for houses which are hidden or have sections which are hard to see into from the outside. If no one can see them enter or leave, then they are less likely to be interrupted or caught in the act.

What can you do?

If your home is in a vulnerable position, such as being down a driveway or hidden away from plain view somehow, take steps to minimise its isolation. Install a security light for your home, trim back any foliage which might obscure your home from plain view, or maybe let your neighbours know when you will be out and when you plan to be back, so that they may notice if someone is wandering on your property when they shouldn’t be.


A tablet lays facedown on a table with a wristwatch leaning on top of it

Burglars will often target homes that they know contain valuable items, such as jewelry, electronics, or cash. Often, they will do some “recon” before breaking in, to see if there are any valuables visible through windows. Areas such as lounges, kitchens and bedrooms are prime locations for a robber to check and potentially spot something which catches their eye. A large TV, expensive gaming console, a fancy looking laptop, or even a nice watch or necklace or display could be exactly what a burglar is wanting to find. Spotting valuable items in easy to grab locations and with no one around to watch them, may be the deciding factor as to whether a burglar commits to your home or not.

While there is a likelihood that a burglar will choose to break in regardless of what they can see from the outside, it is far more worth their while to know that their is a guaranteed profit in it for them beforehand. A robber could break into a home in the hopes of finding something under the bed or in the dresser, or they could break into the house that they already know has valuables inside for them to take.

What can you do?

While it is no guarantee, hiding valuables when they aren’t in use can be a good way to deter thieves. For small items such as jewelry or small electronics, stowing them away in a drawer or wardrobe could be worthwhile. For rooms with larger electronic systems, lowering the curtains when the house is going to be empty, or installing sheer curtains to hide the contents of the room, can cut off a potential robbers line of sight to your valuables, and could potentially convince them to go check elsewhere.


a house porch with a security camera and security lights attached to the roof

While installing lights and locking doors can be good deterrents, they are not guaranteed to stop thieves. If a determined burglar has decided that your home is the one, locks and lights wont necessarily stop them. In this situation, the most effective feature to convince a robber to walk away is a good home security system.

A key feature that burglars will search for when choosing a house to rob, is its security system. Often when a security system is installed in a house, the security company will leave signage around the property warning about the active security in place. A robber scoping a neighbourhood will look for these signs or other visible, clues which indicate the presence of cameras or alarms. If a house is obviously protected by a security system, it may not be worth the burglar’s time to attempt a break-in, and they may move elsewhere.

What can you do?

Burglars don’t want to get caught, they’ll usually avoid houses that have security cameras visible. If they do choose a place with security installed, they will often take the time to learn about the security systems in place at their target house. They’ll try to find out if there is an alarm set, and whether or not there are security cameras. If they can’t find a way to disable or bypass the security system, they may decide to pass on that target.


There are many things that robbers will look for when finding a home. Homeowners and residents can prevent robberies by taking steps to make their homes less appealing to criminals. By making your home more difficult to enter, keeping your property well-lit and visible, and most importantly, installing effective security features, you can deter would-be robbers and keep your family and belongings safe.