The Signs a Thief Is in Your House

The Signs a Thief Is in Your House. One of the most basic safety rules is to be fully aware of your surroundings at all times. Arriving home after a vacation or a long day of work or play is also an occasion where it is necessary to be aware. Detecting signs that a thief is inside your home before you enter it may save you and your family from injury or a harrowing, life-threatening experience. Knowing the signs that a thief is in your home is a precaution no one should take lightly.

Spotting an open window may mean an intruder is inside your home.

Arriving Home

Make it a habit to survey your home as you pull into the driveway. Scan all the windows and doors to make sure they are not open or broken. If your pet is outdoors and normally inside the home, this is also a sign that something is wrong. Upon arriving home from a vacation or other extended time away, walk around the entire house and make sure everything looks secure. Check the locks on the back doors to make sure they are still in the locked position.

Entering the Home

Check the door you enter to make sure it is still locked. Look for scratches or other signs around your door lock that indicate it has been tampered with before unlocking it. Walking into your home and finding drawers open and things in disarray are other signs that a thief has entered the premises. If you do see signs that a thief has entered your home, do not go inside the house. Go to one of your neighbors and call the police. The intruder may still be inside and panicked to get out, therefore entering without a police escort can place you in danger. Entering the home may also destroy evidence. If you or a family member regularly forgets to secure the house before leaving, get a neighbor to go inside the house with you just to make sure nothing is amiss. If you spot any signs of an intruder, leave the area immediately and call the police.

While You're at Home

Sounds of someone walking, something breaking or your pet whining or barking are all signs that someone is inside your house, particularly if you live alone. If you think it may be from another occupant inside the home, call out to the person. If they do not answer, there is a good chance that they are sleeping and that the noise is from an intruder. The electricity suddenly going off when there is not a storm or your phone not working are other red flags. Do not investigate the noise by yourself; call the police. Exit the home without encountering the intruder if at all possible, this is the safest option. If you are unable to do this, lock yourself into a bedroom with your children or other family members. If you do encounter the thief, acting calm and cooperative will reduce your risk of injury.

Safety Measures

Protect yourself and your home by using all the theft deterrents available to you -- time, light and noise . A thief is less likely to enter a home that takes longer than four or five minutes to enter. Using deadbolts and other security measures are effective deterrents that delay the entry. Install security or motion detector lights in your front and back yard. A thief's main goal is to enter the house, rob the valuables and leave undetected. He most likely will not risk breaking in while in a well-lit area. Make sure you trim hedges and shrubs so that they do not provide hiding places while the thief is trying to break in. Install storm or security doors that lock and window grates for all the windows on the main floor of the home. Having to break glass, dismantle grates, or pick multiple locks is noisy and time-consuming, and this type of defense is effective in discouraging intruders.


  • USDA Rural Development: Don't Be a Victim of Crime
  • American Bar Association: Protecting Your Home and Your Health