Understanding Burglar Psychology: What Motivates a Break-in?

November 28, 2023 Uncategorized 0 Comment

Crime rates have been on the rise across the country in recent years, from car thefts to assaults, break-ins and burglaries. The mindset of a burglar is an interesting subject, and many studies and surveys have been conducted over the years to gather information to better understand burglar psychology.

This article is going to be taking a deeper look at what makes burglars tick, the psychology behind what they do and why they do it. Garnering a greater understanding of the burglar mindset will help you better protect your home or business against break-ins.

What is a burglar?

The term “burglar” is generally reserved for people who break into peoples’ homes or properties with the intent to steal something. Although the term can also be applied to people who steal cars and other items, more often than not it’s used to label someone who performs break-ins.

What is the motivation for committing burglaries?

One common point research illustrates is that burglars tend to drift into crime rather than it being a conscious decision to do so. In other words, most burglars didn’t deliberately set out to become a burglar or have a dream of committing break-ins with a view to theft. For some offenders, committing crimes in their neighbourhood was simply the norm rather than the exception.

So, what are some of the most common motivations or reasons for committing a burglary?

  • Excitement: Through the results of studies and research, one of the most common reasons why people decide to break into homes or businesses is the thrill factor. The excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with committing this type of crime can be both euphoric and addictive. It’s not always about stealing something for financial gain. However, this sensation tends to diminish after repeated break-ins.
  • The influence of drugs and/or alcohol: Some offenders decide to commit a crime simply because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. A sense of bravado leads to poor decision making.
  • Money: Of course, one of the most popular reasons to commit a break-in is the desire to find cash. Money is always preferable to items of value as the perpetrator doesn’t have to risk trying to sell or pawn off an item to convert it to cash. Most often, the motivation to steal cash is to buy drugs.
  • Valuables: Secondary to cash are items of value that can be sold. Jewellery is always popular. Phones, watches, electrical goods or anything of value that’s not too big is fair game for most burglars.
  • Drugs: Many thieves break into homes in businesses in the hope of finding drugs, whether it be prescription medication or something more illicit.

Is there a difference between male and female burglars?

Research has determined a few key differences between the mindset of male offenders as compared to female burglars.

For starters, men were more likely to plan their crimes and first gather intelligence before committing the break-in. Women, on the other hand, tended to commit impulsive burglaries. While females seem to favour breaking into homes in the afternoon, males prefer to commit their crimes under the cover of darkness.

Interestingly, the main motivator for women is drug use, whereas it’s money for men. In both groups, some tend to always work alone when committing their crimes, while others will only steal when with one or more other people.

Target selection

To further understand the psychology of thieves, discovering what they look for when selecting a target is very enlightening and also helpful in learning how to deter burglars. Let’s highlight some key things a typical burglar does or looks for:

  • Intelligence gathering: Many thieves, particularly the more experienced ones, first gather intelligence by scoping the area, determining how many people are likely to be about, discovering when residents are not home, escape routes, proximity to police, whether there are dogs on the premises or in a neighbours yard and so on.
  • Alarms: One of the most common things burglars are mindful of is whether an alarm is present on the residential or commercial property. Most burglars will seek an alternative target if they discover the presence of an alarm system.
  • Lighting: Thieves that work at night prefer to remain in darkness as much as possible, so they search for potential targets where outdoor lighting is at a minimum.
  • Planning: Many thieves prefer to plan their break-ins and robberies rather than committing crimes on an impulsive basis. This is why intelligence gathering is so common among burglars.
  • Homes are popular targets: While thieves do target commercial properties, at least half tend to target residential properties. One reason is that commercial and industrial areas are often patrolled by security guards and K9 units or have high fences surrounding buildings. Homes are considered easier targets, where burglars gain entry either through open windows or doors or by forcing a window or door.

What deters burglars?

Understanding what burglars look for in a likely target also helps us to understand how to deter them from breaking into our own homes or businesses. With this in mind, let’s quickly list some burglar deterrents:

  • Your residence or business is in close proximity to other people
  • Security lighting, outdoor lighting or sensor lighting is present
  • Your home or business is fitted with an alarm system
  • Your home has security screens on the windows and security doors
  • The area is patrolled by security guards or K9 units
  • CCTV cameras are installed on the premises
  • The presence of a dog in the yard or a neighbour’s yard will usually deter a thief
  • Someone is home or neighbours are awake

Secure your home with professional help

If you’re in Perth, then get in touch with Smart Security Australia. We will help make your home safe and secure to not only prevent break-ins but also deter burglars from targeting your place to start with. Talk to us about security lighting, CCTV cameras, home security systems and more. Ensuring your safety and peace of mind is our expertise.