Burglary: The Silent Crime

Home and small businesses are common targets for burglaries. There are a few simple things you can do to make your business less appealing to thieves.

The Silent Crime

Burglary has been called “the silent crime” because the burglar uses stealth to enter homes and businesses when the owners are asleep or away. Burglary is generally defined as the breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony.

In his more than 20 years as a patrolman and detective, Mark Tartaglia came in contact with both burglars and their victims. The recently retired detective for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office worked patrol for a good number of years in South Philadelphia prior to being promoted to a detective.

He spoke of when he was called to the scene of a jewelry store that had been burglarized.

“One of the guys said the burglar was on the roof,” Tartaglia recalled. “A fire truck was called and they got the ladder and they went up on the roof to look around.”

Tartaglia was standing next to his wagon when he spied a man who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Seeing a necklace hanging from his pocket, Tartaglia arrested him.

The story illustrates that, when something appears strange, you should pay close attention. Trust your instincts and call the police, Tartaglia advised.

Three Types of Burglars

There are three types of burglars, Tartaglia explained: professional burglars, thieves, and opportunists.

The professionals target mansions, major businesses, and other high-end targets. Prior to committing the burglary, the professional burglar performs surveillance. Although the targets generally have state-of-the-art alarm systems in place, the professionals use their knowledge and specialized tools to thwart the systems. The professional also uses a network of professional “fences” where they sell stolen jewelry, stamps, silver, art work, and other stolen items. These fences are usually associated with organized crime.

The thieves are not specialized criminals like the professionals. They will commit armed robbery, burglary, rob cars, and commit any type of crime. They use less-sophisticated tools than the professionals and target businesses and homes that have less protection than high-end establishments. They will target small retail stores and homes known to contain valuables like cash, guns, jewelry, and electronic equipment.

The opportunist goes out looking for a business or home that they think they can break into easily and get away quick. There is little planning prior to the crime.

“Most of the cases I worked involved the thieves and opportunists,” Tartaglia said.

Tips for Businesses

A business should have an all-in-one fire and burglary alarm system, Tartaglia advises. Your system should be connected to a service that responds to alarms. If an alarm is activated, the security service will call you.

Signs are good, Tartaglia said, as this identifies your security measures and often deters thieves and opportunists. The burglar will generally not target a home or business that has a sign announcing an alarm system.

“You work hard to maintain your business, so why make it easy for a burglar to take your belongings?”

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