Convicted Oklahoma Burglars Give Tips To Keep You Safe
MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - In Tulsa, burglars break into about 650 homes every month. Even though it's a property crime, victims say it feels very personal to have someone violate their home.
Knowing how burglars think and operate is the best way to protect ourselves, which is why we spoke to some convicted burglars, to get a better idea of how to protect ourselves.
The most important thing you need to know is that most burglars do ‘knock and kicks.’ Meaning they knock and listen, then, if they don't hear anyone, they kick in the door.
Most only want to hit an empty house, which is why it's important to make noise whenever someone knocks, rather than pretending you’re not home.
Rodney Horn is one of the thousands of convicted burglars are behind bars in Oklahoma. He broke into houses all over Muskogee and Wagoner counties in order to feed a crack cocaine habit.
He said if he didn't see a vehicle out front and didn't hear any noise after he knocked, he went inside using a pry bar.
Lori: "What was the favorite thing you wanted to steal?"
Horn: "From my experience, want to get something small, fast and has value."
He said he always grabbed jewelry first, then electronics, cameras, laptops, tablets; things easy to carry and easy to sell.
Horn said he stole so much he was actually banned from pawnshops.
Lori: "How did you get rid of the stuff you stole?"
Horn: "It's sad I'm going to say this, but when they banned me from pawn shops it took away the paper trail that got me in trouble. So when I got banned, I sold to individuals and didn't worry about serial numbers."
He said he always broke in during school hours because he didn't want anyone to be home. But the last time, the one that sent him back to prison, there were kids inside. He quickly left, but got caught.
Lori: "What advice do you have for homeowners to protect themselves?"
Horn: "Definitely good dogs that bark loud. Definitely have an alarm system; that deters, definitely deterred me. If I set off an alarm I immediately got out of there."
Another convicted burglar, John Brown, agreed about the alarm system being one of the best ways to be protected.
"Alarm system is the number one deterrent. Get an alarm system because if it goes have, you know police is coming and it's over with," he said.
Brown didn't mind to break in when people were home, he was living a gang lifestyle filled with crime.
He said when he knocked and someone answered, he'd sound submissive and came up with a story that sounded harmless - looking for directions, selling magazines - anything to get people to drop their guard and open their door. He'd even dress for the part.
"If I'm looking like a street soldier or gang member, of course, no one opened the door. I was always clean cut, and wore a suit and knocked on the door, and, of course, they'd open the door because they don't think I'm going to rob you," he said.
Brown said people make it so easy - always putting their valuables in their bedrooms, under their bed, in closets or dressers, if they even bother to hide them at all.
Brown said he also avoided pawn shops because of the paperwork.
Lori: "How'd you get rid of it?"
Brown: "Drug dealers. People on the street will buy it. If it costs $5,000 they'd pay $2,000 or $1,500, they'd buy it like that."
Both men said they didn't realize how much their crimes hurt people until they took a victim impact class in prison. They said they've turned their lives around and are done with crime and did the interviews as a small way to make amends.
They said one thing to keep in mind is that they actually would steal a lot of safes because people didn’t bolt them to the ground.
They also said closed curtains are seen as an invitation; they think it means you're gone, plus, no one can see them in your house.
They suggest keeping curtains open, and, when you're gone park a car in your driveway and leave something on during the day that makes noise.