Safety isn’t binary: it sits on a sliding scale. Though a lot of things in this world are outside of our control, the actions that we take every single day can either improve or decrease our total sense of security. And it doesn’t just work on the scale of a single individual, either—it works for entire households, too.

Reddit users have been discussing a very important topic about keeping homes safe from being broken into. And the people giving out advice on what attracts and what deters burglary? Former burglars themselves, so you know that these tips and bits of advice come from (ironically) legitimate sources. Of course, regular folks like you and I pitched in with their own advice, as did security experts whose jobs are to make sure that people's homes are as safe as can be.

Have a read about some of the things that make homes a target for burglars, how to make your home safer, and how to tell if a house is being targeted by burglars, dear Pandas. If you have any additional tips that you think everyone else simply must hear, be sure to share them with us in the comments.

#1

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Don't post anything on social media until you have gotten back home. I can't tell you how many neighbors and family have gotten robbed because of this.

SecPhase , Georgia de Lotz Report

Shary Bobbings
Community Member
9 months ago

Don't post anything on social media.

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#2

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It A recent study showed that burglars come back to the same houses quite often. They do this because of a number of motives.

1: They want to take tings they, for some reason, couldn't take the first time.

2: They're kinda familiar with the house.

3: It's guaranteed that the people they robbed replaced the stuff they stole the first time, often these replacements are of better quality than the original.

So after you get raided take good security measures.

[deleted] , S_Salow Report

RedPandasStandUprightWithPawsUpToLookIntimidating
9 months ago

I was burgled twice in 6 weeks. The police told me that the thieves leave the time for insurance replacements. However a family member died and I was too busy. So they emptied my large chest freezer instead. (But left the frozen liver!)

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#3

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It If a family member dies, leave someone to house sit the house the deceased lived in.
Years ago a bunch of thieves would look at the funerals section and they would go burglarize houses of the deceased, knowing full well that the whole family was away, down to the exact hour the funerals started.

MistahZig , Scott Webb Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

Uncle Bob has been waiting for this moment his entire life. Sitting in the dark behind the door with his trusty louisville slugger and 7 iron.

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ADT points out that a whopping 3.7 million homes get broken into in the US each year. They suggest that you start thinking about the security of your home by getting into the mindset of someone who wants to break in. Take a walk around the exterior of your home and try to think like a burglar.

Check out some of the weaknesses that you spot. Maybe there’s a door that you always keep unlocked. Perhaps there are lots of low windows that would let a burglar get inside easier. Maybe it’s time to trim the bushes around the house so nobody can hide in them.

#4

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I'm not a burglar, but I worked for the largest security company in this country for half a decade.

Burglar alarms do not deter burglars. They just alert you that you have been burglarized. Most of the time the police will take very little action in response due to the fact that 98% of burglar alarm activation constitute false alarms.

The sign that comes with the alarm though? That thing is worth more than the alarm as far as deterring burglars.

My job was to take reports from customers who had been burglarized. (see my first point above)

In all my time doing these interviews and I never interviewed one single burglary victim who owned a medium sized or large sized dog. Not one single time.

That is not to say that no one who owns a dog ever gets burglarized.

I'm just saying that in 5 years of spending 8 hours a day interviewing people who had been, not one single time did I encounter the situation.

I think there is at least SOME statistical validity in that.

TL:DR A big dog is the best burglary deterrent you can possibly have. Better than burglar alarms, signs, guns or expensive locks.

rottinguy , the blowup Report

I I
Community Member
9 months ago

i have 4 medium ones

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#5

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It One thing on Reddit I read was that having a pair of large work boots on the porch next to the door can deter burglars (unless they know you). It basically says "Someone is home right now, it its possibly a big dude who can hurt you."

dougiebgood , Teresa Rautio Report

Mateo Grajales Jaramillo
Community Member
9 months ago

until someone steals the boots

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#6

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Listened to a KFI radio interview when I lived in Los Angeles. Former anonymous burglar said he avoided houses that hung the U.S. flag. Said it told him the occupants likely owned at least one firearm. Would avoid even if it looked as though no one was home.

Drummerdoggie , Jordan Crawford Report

DE Ray
Community Member
9 months ago

I think that was disinformation - guns make good loot, as they can be sold for far higher prices than just about anything else which can be stolen from a home. Electronics are hard to sell for a fraction of its value, jewelry goes for closer to its value but also difficult to find a buyer, but guns are both easy and profitable to sell.

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What’s more, while you’re walking the perimeter, take a peek through the windows of your own home. Ideally, you wouldn’t have any high-value items visible. Something valuable that’s proudly displayed for everyone to see can invite criminals in. You don’t have to go as far as hiding all your tech in the basement, though—getting some curtains can be a simple solution.

That’s the same reason you don’t want to leave your phone, laptop, or iPad on the seat of your car. It’s also why you should think about taking your car stereo out when you park. You don’t want to tempt fate.

#7

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I'm going to assume having a cop for a neighbor that parks his cruiser in the driveway facing my house is a nice burglar deterrent.

SSmtb , Rémi Boyer Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

Also great if you want to go away for the weekend with your spouse and leave the teenagers at home

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#8

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It When I was young and dumb I would boost rims off cars, cause you could make quick money and it was less then a felony. The number one deterrent hands down...... Lights. If a place is lit up like a Christmas tree on the outside of a house you stay clear cause it means anyone can see you and see you clearly

bluetoothkid , LYCS Architecture Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

A friend of mine had a jeep that he had put a lot of work into, lifted and nice set of wheels and mud tires on it. Lived in a typical suburb so street was full of houses, with street lights and everything. The guys were pros.... came in, cut the lines to kill the street lights, jacked his jeep up, stole all 4 wheels off the jeep plus the spare on the back, and the front bumper with the winch on it, and left it on blocks in his driveway. Security cameras saw it, but couldn't make out anything to identify them because it was dark - in and out in less than 5 minutes.

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#9

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I have to assume that the 18 steps up from street level are at least some deterrent. We don't even get Jehovah's witnesses.

TacticalLeemur , Luke Stackpoole Report

jevais
Community Member
9 months ago

Luck you, people who come to my door uninvited and that I don't know who they are I never open my door. Having a very loud dog barking like mad also makes these unwanted visitors go away. Never tell that you're going on vacation or leaving for a few days to anyone, except to a neighbor who is your friend.

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Something else that you should definitely consider is keeping your yard tidy. Don’t leave your bikes, grills, and other expensive equipment lying around. Lock it all in your shed. Sure, you might have planted your roots in a secure community, but you never know who might be winding their way down the path in your quiet suburban paradise. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Consider making your territory very well lit. It’s harder for burglars to do their nefarious deeds in the light and they’re more likely to avoid such homes. Motion sensors, security systems, even cameras are also potential weapons in your arsenal.

#10

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I feel bad being another one of those "I'm not actually one but: people, but:

You know how some landscapers throw bags of rocks with a landscaping ad or business card in them?

Guess what? Some of these are just burglars taking a bunch of pamphlets from a landscaping business, throwing these in your yard. They drive by a day or two later. Whoever didn't pick them up is a much more likely candidate, especially if there was no car in the driveway either time.

rolfraikou Report

Douglas Turner
Community Member
9 months ago

Ya know, if you throw a bag of rocks with your contact info on my lawn I might just drop by and return the gift...

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#11

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It My neighbour got robbed because he installed a dog flap.

I.e. he put a man sized hole in his door.

We don't even live in a particularly nice area.

Laikitu , Elizabeth Ann Stein Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
9 months ago

He probably thought that a huge dog flap woud lead thieves to think he has a huge dog.

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#12

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I stuck with commercial burglary, residential burglary carried a risk of getting hit with a home invasion charge which increases your sentence if convicted (not to mention, you run the risk of getting shot by some redneck with a spring-loaded magnum under every flat surface in the house).

Anyway, I'd pick places based on the upkeep of their equipment. If the cash register was out of date, so was their camera system. If the clerk leaves the register open a crack while they're behind the counter, that means the safe is likely open in the back room.

It also helps to hit the places that hire felons (fast food joints, video stores, etc.) because the cops are gonna waste a lot of time looking into the staff members who have a criminal history. The closer they're looking at them, the better off I am.

Of course, this was ~15 years ago, things change.

DownvotePlusSoulTrap , Radek Homola Report

Mercy Wanjiru
Community Member
9 months ago

I feel bad for those workers...being accused and investigated when they know in their hearts they didn't do it...also someone actually banking on it

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#13

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Don't leave empty boxes from high end electronics on the curb outside your house. People tend to do this right after the holidays. Put that in your car and throw it out somewhere else, like the local recycling center. Any burglar casing your neighborhood will see that and know without even coming near your house and looking suspicious that you just got a bunch of valuable stuff just ready to be taken.

williamlc , MealPro Report

TraceFace
Community Member
9 months ago

But then I can't show off to my neighbors all the s**t I got for Xmas!

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#14

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I live in an area with a large homeless population, many which are drug addicts. Lots of smash and grab car burglaries. I can tell you this for certain. Theft is 99% visual meaning if you've left something valuable within view, your gonna lose it. And of value could even mean even an empty bag. Tweakers not gonna assume its empty they will take the chance but at the same time dudes not gonna smash a window then take the time to start rummaging around hoping to find something of value. Too time consuming especially after a large crash from your newly busted window.

NiceVarmint , Ben Iwara Report

Leo Domitrix
Community Member
9 months ago

They don't break windows. They jimmy them open silently or at 3 AM when you're asleep, or have cute tools to bypass your keyless entry, etc. Learned this one the hard way. Our road keeps getting cars roken into, even when the mos tvaluable thing in view is a flippin' road atlas.

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#15

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Motion sensing flood lights outside.

No big bushes in front of windows where someone could hide. Thorned bushes are always good for under windows, if you keep them close enough.

A dog is nice.

If you can't afford an alarm and security cameras, fake cameras and alarm contacts on windows can be a deterrent, hopefully. Better to just get the real thing. Remember any security footage could possibly be obtained and used against you if something goes down. If you do shady things, cameras could be a bad idea.

Dead bolt locks on all exterior doors. Keyed outside and inside if there's windows in or next to the door... but then only take the key out when nobody is home, for fire safety.

If you aren't always home at night, get a few timers for lamps inside.

Pro level:

Get a cheap tv. Like a CRT 13 inch that nobody wants. Put it in a cabinet or wall unit type thing, so you can close the door to hide it when guests come over. Put it on a timer to stay on until very late, and set a light timer in a bedroom to come on when it goes off.

Install vertical blinds on a window across from the tv. Vertical blinds are great, because you can angle them for a very limited view, so the house looks less closed up and more inhabited. Anyway, in this case, angle the blinds so you can clearly see the tv, but nothing else in the room. Set volume so you can just barely hear it outside.

This does two things: the light and sound make it seem like someone could be home. And, a thief may look in, see the old 13 incher and just be like damn this dude's stuff sucks, I'm going somewhere else.

level 1 [deleted] , PJ Gal-Szabo Report

lara
Community Member
9 months ago

I had a cop tell me that if you have a home security system do NOT leave their sign in the yard. He says that tells the burglars/whatever exactly how they need to break into the house. Instead, he said, leave a sign from a different security company. That will either stop them or make it take so long they just will give up.

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#16

If you're moving into a newly built complex, CHANGE THE LOCKS. Just over a year ago, my housemate and his girlfriend came back to our place to find that laptops and jewellry had been nicked, and there was no sign of forced entry - also we live in South Africa, so doors are always locked.

Turns out the builders were cheap, and used the same three types of locks for the front doors. Strongly suspect that ex-employees of the company did a short term rental of a unit (three months probably) and just took notes of everyone's comings and goings. Then just wander to a unit, try one of the three keys and then casually stroll out with a laptop bag stuffed with goodies. We weren't the only unit to be hit, and the HOA only sent out a notice to be vigilant after I spoke to the niece of one of the people who were on the board.

iraddney Report

Eucritta
Community Member
9 months ago

Any time you move into a new place, it's a good idea to change the locks. You have no idea who might have spares.

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#17

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Signs painted on or near buildings/residences that are deemed to be 'easy pickings', so to speak. Also signs that act as warnings. For example, the sign for 'alarmed' looks like a W with a line drawn horizontally across the top, while a simple X could mean a good target.

This is true where I am in England, but I know not whether these symbols carry over to other countries.

*not a former burglar. I would be wealthier if I was. I would also have a cat called Dingo who would help me on my missions.

Snapnall Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

No, not a cat, a raccoon. They make the best burglers.

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#18

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Young redditors may not have heard of this thing; it's called 'radio'. Leave a talk station on when you're out. No burglar's gonna come in if he hears voices, unless it's a home invasion. Leave a light on, doesn't matter if you put a timer on it or not. Just a low level light, like it's a night light for going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. A dog is another big plus. Hard for anyone to get past a dog in the dark. They don't need to see you to bark and bite you. Have never been burglarized, ever, and I'm 67 years old. That is all.

songsearch , Nacho Carretero Molero Report

Mazer
Community Member
9 months ago

The biggest problem here is that burglars will knock on the front door, they will stand and listen. If they don’t hear movement chances are they are coming in, radio on, tv on, it matters not. These people are career criminals, they know.

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#19

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It I'm not answering the question directly, but I am answering it indirectly:

The vast majority of burglaries are perpetrated by people who have been inside your home before

This is very important to realize. When you have guests over that you don't know well (maybe at a Halloween party), lock all of the doors to bedrooms, and don't have anything super valuable just laying out to show. Most of the time they won't take anything during the party, but they will come back later... with friends.

Hakib , NeONBRAND Report

ZAPanda
Community Member
9 months ago

wow. You need to choose better friends.

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#20

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Not a burglar but lots happens in my area.

• People coming by who are either sketchily fundraising for something or "working for so-and-so company" when you weren't expecting anyone. They're casing your house and figuring out when you're home. They're also probably figuring out the best way in and out of your place.

• Leaving boxes of big ticket items visible in your garbage or alley.

• Depending on who/where, sometimes they'll stake out near your home or do drive-bys several times to see when you're home.

chornu , Pavel Danilyuk Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

Note, fellow pandas, when you purchase that 80" QLED television, dispose of the packaging on recycling day on your jerk neighbours curb with their garbage (don't do this, it's illegal in many places)

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#21

very few references to CCTV in here, my dad's place got broken into the day before the sale closed, likely by the previous owner. (bank repo).

He installed CCTV cams all over the property and hasn't had an issue since.

They are really very inexpensive, you can get a full set of 8 cameras at costco for under 1000$ us last time I looked, with a NVR. The hardest part is stringing the wires, so if you arent handy you may have to pay someone.

It goes without saying that you need to stream at least motion events to an offsite location however, as it is possible a burglar could just take your recordings.

The added benefit is you get recordings of every time you wipe out shoveling the drive way, or when the purolator man throws your package at the door and runs away instead of placing it down like a non-savage.

[deleted] Report

Norma
Community Member
9 months ago

Bonus like for the purolator man comment!

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#22

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It In the autobiography of Malcolm X, he said that if he went to a house, and the bathroom light was on, he didn’t go in. Said something like ‘a guy in the bathroom could come out anytime’

ohazltn , marco forno Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

Yeah but if the light in the bathroom just turned on, you likely have 30 minutes until that guy comes out.

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#23

A nice place in a rural area, no close neighbors, and a short driveway. Pay attention to a strange vehicle driving by at different hours. Get a camera, put it on your front door, they will generally knock first. Do not keep valuables in a portable safe. Good luck.

Whiskey1978 Report

John Otruba
Community Member
9 months ago

I have one sign in back and one in driveway "caution police work dog on premises" everyone on my road was broken into in a single day but mine! (I also keep 2 German Shepherds for company"

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#24

When people proudly advertise their security system. You can usually find a forum of people who've found the latest ways to crack the system. Also if they advertise being a gun owner without being a vet(I knew before I enlisted that veterans advertise their status and branch) that's a solid target. Usually kept in an outdated safe by an owner who hardly knew how to use it let alone be able to control nerves from affecting things like trigger control or aligning their sights. You could always sell a gun for more cash as jewels or a laptop if you has the right connections.

I never tried neighborhood's with an active watch, usually meant any targets had a good relationship with the cops and any calls would be handled with a lot more care. Also i'd never rob a place with a dog, especially a pit bull, rottweiler or German Shepherd from the pound.

Drug dealers were a natural target for home invasion if you had the confidence. Crowbar open the door and put the main occupant on their ass. Once they see you're not a junky and have every intention to kill them if they don't listen to you they usually give up solid cash and/or flashy valuable's you can pawn by going to a county and hour or two away. They can't really call the cops and draw attention to themselves.

Kreacher999 Report

WilvanderHeijden
Community Member
9 months ago

Drug dealers are known for having loads of illegal weapons and very tight security. It's very unlikely they care if you're a junky or not, they'll kill you and dump your body somewhere on the street to avoid any contact with the police.

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#25

I would check out a house several times over two days. If there was no sign of movement -- no lights coming on or off, no curtains moved, newspapers left on the driveway -- I was interested.

Is the house in a nice neighborhood? Is it well kept? If so I figured they had nice stuff.

Next question: Is there an easy escape route? Woods in the back yard were excellent.

Next question: Is there a window hidden from view that I can smash if I have to?

very_large_ears Report

Bobert Robertson
Community Member
9 months ago

Just be careful your "very_large_ears" don't get caught in the remaining shards of glass on the window.

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#26

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It If you open your door and a $1/2/5.00 etc, bill floats down, somebody is targeting your house.

When I was a precious angel, I used to wedge a bill on top/side of the front door. I'd check again in the early hours to see if the money was taken or put back in the wrong place. If it was, I'd leave the place alone.

I'd recommend if it happens, wether it be money or other that falls when you unlock the front door, to let the police know someone is targeting houses for a robbery.

SweetSlowKiss , Jack Harner Report

Leo Domitrix
Community Member
9 months ago

Oh for.... I never met anyone who left good money like that. And who'd "put it bqck in the wrong place"? What does that even mean? Who wouldn't just say, "WTF?" and shove the money in a pocket?

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#27

A common scam in my neighborhood is to come to the door trying to sell a security system and try and get you to let them in and talk about what you need. This way they find out about what kind of security you already have. Some come as proselytizers too, carrying a bible and dressed nice, then they ask for water or to use your bathroom so they can get in and case your place.

Leallame Report

Rissie
Community Member
9 months ago (edited)

I like how companies that actually sell alarm systems here in the Netherlands _are_ the actual scam. They install it for a lot more money than you would nowadays buying a few camera's yourself. And they do not do any active surveillance. Only responsive. They do charge you a monthly fee for keeping images (for more than any Cloud provider nowadays would). They fload new area's with door to door sales children and are very notorious for being little jerks. They rob your household within the letter of the law. Very annoying.

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#28

30 Ex-Burglars Reveal The Signs Of Your Home Being Targeted And How To Avoid It Turn on exterior lights. Have an alarm sign in front yard. Alarm stickers on windows. Barking dog.

Id skip that house

someGUYwithADHD , Marek Bubenik Report

Marek Bubeník
Community Member
6 months ago

Funny to find my photo here he is actually a nice dog this is how he smiling :)

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#29

There was an old show on Discovery or A&E called 'To Catch A Thief' where 2 ex-B&E guys would get an owerns permission to break in to the house in the future. Then they would do it and video it and give security improvements. Excellent watch if you can find it. One of the biggest things was people being too lazy to lock their doors or thinking they could hide their valuables (a good theif can completely trash a house in 10 min and find everything of value).

tingwong Report

lara
Community Member
9 months ago

We have a safe. The only things we keep in it are papers: deeds, will, birth certificates. Everything else is off site. I have two pieces of jewelry, my wedding rings and a necklace my husband gave me for our 25th anniversary. That's it. The single most valuable things we "own" are the dogs. Anyone ever hurts one of my dogs and there is no place they can hide.

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#30

Not a burglar, but when I drive to work in the evening when it is dark.... I can't tell you how many big-screen TVs I can see through large unshaded windows in people's homes. They are just advertising.

I keep all my windows shaded. Also, I dont have any big screen TVs. I prefer smaller TVs that are closer to me (within a few feet) instead of a giant tv that is across the room.

dirtymoney Report

ZAPanda
Community Member
9 months ago

So I do the opposite. I've got zero valuables except my laptop. So I leave the curtains open. Burglars won't take books.

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