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Did you ever come home from a week’s vacation or after a long day at work to find that something just doesn’t feel right? Maybe your doormat has moved slightly to one side or the socks in your drawer seem even messier than usual. You can’t put your finger on it, but you can tell something’s off. Before you start panicking, here is a step-by-step guide on how to tell if someone has been in your house.
I, for one, have certainly had my fair share of worrying about potential burglaries and break-ins. That is why I compiled this list for you using these excellent resources. I am also currently looking into getting both outdoor and the battery powered ip camera for my home and will make sure to let you know how that goes too!
Step 1: Check for Unfamiliar Vehicles Parked Outside Your House
Let’s start from the outside in. A strange car or van parked in your driveway or by the curb near your house could be the burglars’ getaway vehicle. Be mindful of any unfamiliar or suspicious-looking vehicles, especially after normal business hours.
Step 2: Check If The Lights Are On
As you approach your house, have a look at the windows from a distance. Is the light on in any of the rooms?
If it is and you are sure you turned off all the lights before you left, chances are someone has been there or still is. Be very careful and call the police if you have any doubts. Better be safe than sorry!
Step 3: Look for Open Windows
Even if the lights are all off, don’t look away from the windows just yet. Are any of the windows open or even slightly ajar when they shouldn’t be? If they are, that is definitely a red flag.
Step 4: See If The Door Is Open
The same goes for the door. Is it open or ajar? Is it unlocked when it shouldn’t be? Don’t just inspect the front door — have a look at the backdoor and any other entrances as well.
- You can attach a thin, barely visible thread in front of your door. The thread will tear anytime someone opens the door and will serve as a handy visual clue that someone has been in your house. The only downside is that you would need to be extra careful not to ruin your own booby trap when you leave the house.
Step 5: Check for Footprints in the Garden
Take a moment to examine the garden or yard. Do you spot any footprints in the grass, flowerbeds, or gravel path? If it has been snowing, do you see any suspicious prints and marks in the snow?
Step 6: Check for Signs of Forced Entry
Then, inspect the perimeter for signs of a forced break-in. Is the gate, fence, or railing bent, dented, or otherwise tampered with? Check that all barriers to entry are intact, including the ground-floor window casings and all other entrances to the house.
Step 7: Listen for Strange Noises Coming from the House
Before you walk through the door, keep quiet for a moment and listen for any unfamiliar noises. Listen for regular sound patterns, such as that of footsteps going up or down the stairs, as well as irregular patterns, such as the creaking of floorboards, a door being opened, or someone bumping into furniture.
Hopefully, all you hear will be the wind or your cat playing around. However, if you do pick up on anything that raises your concern, err on the side of caution and call the police.
- Consider installing a noise-recording app on an old smartphone you no longer use. Place the phone in the hall or some other central location in your house. The app will record any noises during your absence for as long as the phone is on.
Step 8: See If the Lock Has Been Messed With
You are almost in. As you stand by the door, see if there are scratches or dents in the metal around the keyhole. If you spot any, these could be signs of key bumping — a relatively new practice among home burglars.
Key bumping first became popular in 2005 and had been spreading ever since, as it requires little skills and pretty much anyone can do it. Key bumpers use a tiny saw to unlock doors. That saw will often leave marks and scratches if handled in haste or by an amateur.
However, if your lock has been picked rather than bumped, you are unlikely to be able to spot any telltale signs. Unlike bumping, picking uses a flat tool such as a screwdriver, which requires more precision and leaves fewer traces.
- Consider spraying colorless paint onto the doorknob or handle. Make sure you clean the surface before applying the paint; then, close the door without touching the knob or handle. Any unwanted visitors will then leave fingerprints all over it — you will be able to see them using ultraviolet light.
- If you suspect your lock has been tampered with, change it right away. However, don’t fall for the flashy marketing and buy a fancy electronic lock — these are easy to hack. Instead, invest in a high-quality mechanical lock.
Step 9: Check If the Doormat Has Been Moved
As you step indoors, see if the doormat has been moved. That could be an indication that someone has been in your house.
- Next time you leave the house, you can place a glass of water on the doormat right in front of the door. That way, whenever someone opens the door, it will knock the glass over and spill the water. If your mat is on the thicker side, it should take several hours for it to dry. Of course, this trip would only work if your door opens in.
- Alternatively, you can put a cup full of beads by the entrance. It will also get knocked over when someone opens the door. However, the intruder would most likely try to put the beads back in, so make sure you count them in advance and remember exactly where you put the cup.
- Finally, you could tuck a few cookies under your mat. If someone then steps on it, they will crush the cookies without even realizing it. What’s more, this hack works for both indoor and outdoor mats. However, you do run the risk of attracting ants and other insects if you leave the cookies for too long.
Step 10: Look for Footprints on the Floors or Carpets
This one is rather obvious but still worth mentioning. The intruders may not have left footprints outdoors, but if there was any mud, sand, or snow on their soles, they might have left stains on your carpet or tiles.
Step 11: Check If Your Belongings Have Been Moved
If your belongings are in utter disarray, you really don’t need any further clues that someone has been in the house. However, the telltale signs may be much subtler than that. With this in mind, check your most valuable items, such as electronics, cash, and jewelry. That is the kind of loot that burglars are typically after.
- Take some photos of your rooms and belongings before you leave the house. Then, compare the before and after state once you come back.
- The intruder may not be a burglar but a jealous ex, family member, or friend with bad intentions. In that case, their motives are much more likely to be personal rather than financial. If you suspect anyone close to you, make sure to check your more intimate items, such as photographs, memorabilia, or prized gifts. Also, keep an eye on any important paperwork that you may have in the house.
Step 12: Are Any Strange Bits and Pieces Strewn Around?
Be on the lookout for any strange pieces of what you’d typically consider trash. Examples include hair that doesn’t look like it belongs to any of the occupants of the house, pieces of tread, lint, etc.
Remember to be particularly vigilant in the master bedroom, which is where burglars often go in search of smaller valuable items, such as watches, jewelry, designer handbags, and other accessories.
Step 13: Check the Surveillance Footage from Your Security Cameras
If you have security cameras in your home, form a habit of going over the footage on a regular basis.
If you don’t have a camera, consider installing one or several — there are many great options on the market. I would recommend getting both an outdoor security camera, as well as an indoor one.
- Make sure to get a wireless security camera or a battery-powered one. These dispense with the need for wiring, which is not only a hassle but also a potential security gap. Usually, the first thing a burglar would do is cut off any visible wiring to disable the security cameras and alarm.
- Ensure your surveillance covers any vulnerable areas and points of entry, such as doors and windows, and that there are no blind spots left unmonitored.
- If you can’t afford a proper security camera at this stage, you can use a hidden webcam or baby monitor instead.
I hope that the information above comes in handy next time you wonder if someone has been in your house without your permission. Learning these simple tips and tricks certainly made me feel safer and more confident.
As a general rule, always stay vigilant and seriously consider getting an outdoor and indoor security cameras. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your neighbors’ homes too — they would certainly appreciate it and will return the favor. We live in uncertain times and could all use a little help.
As always, please let me know what you think in the comments section and feel free to share this article.
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