How To Tell If A Burglar Is Watching Your House

by | Sep 17, 2023

Wondering how to tell if a burglar is watching your house? If you’ve ever seen a heist movie like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job, you know that thieves leave nothing to chance. Everything is painstakingly planned out, and that includes “casing” the target location.  

Home burglaries are no different. Would-be burglars typically identify potential targets days or even weeks in advance by monitoring neighborhoods to learn which houses are vulnerable. They return again and again to gather additional information about the area, the property, the homeowners, and any home security measures that may be in place. They take time to assess which homes are more likely to prevent their success and which ones will be simple to break into.

In order to beat them at their own game, you need to know the tricks and techniques they use to case the outside and inside of your home. You need to do everything possible to turn your property from a soft to a hard target. And knowing how to tell if someone is casing your house requires more than just staying alert and noticing suspicious people or activity

Here’s how to tell if a burglar is watching your house.

Home Security Basics

Modern home security should be like an onion, with many overlapping layers protecting the three major zones: the perimeter of your property, the perimeter of your house, and inside your home.

Gates, fences, motion sensors, lights, cameras, security system signs or stickers, closed curtains or blinds, sturdy locks, and “beware of dog” signs can be fantastic deterrents for the outside of your home. Any combination of them will deter all but the most ambitious burglars from moving on to the next property.

In fact, the data suggests that 90% of criminals will pass on a house with a visible home security system in place. And a home without one is three times more likely to be robbed on average.

It’s all about making your house as unappealing as possible.

The lowest-hanging fruit for a thief? Unlocked doors and windows. A full 33% of home burglaries are “unlawful entry,” meaning the burglar gained access without having to break a lock, door, or window.

A full 79% of break-ins happen via either the front door, first-floor window, or back door. Will burglars smash their way in? Sometimes. But making sure everything is locked up tight is the simplest and most powerful deterrent.

Even better? Install home security cameras. And let everyone know with stickers, placards, and obvious motion sensors, cameras, and lights.

What Are Burglars Looking For? 

Burglars want an easy target. For example, no security system. If a burglar is watching your home, they also look for evidence that no one is around. This includes:

  • Newspapers and mail piling up
  • Too-long grass
  • Exterior lights on during the day
  • Interior lights turning on according to an obvious schedule
  • Empty driveway
  • Quiet house

What else? Windows they can easily look through to see who and what is inside. Flimsy doors or locks. Window air conditioner units, since it’s relatively easy to remove them and gain access. A door or window where they can break in under cover of darkness or shielded from the street by trees or hedges. Access to the sides or back of your house.

These are just a few of the things a burglar might look for over the course of a few visits.

Prevent Your Home From Becoming a Burglary Target

Take those telltale signs away and transform your home from an easy mark to a hard pass:

  • Install a home security system with motion detectors, cameras, lights, and sirens (noticing a pattern?)
  • Have a neighbor collect your newspapers and mail, or better yet, place a temporary hold on them
  • Lock all of your windows and doors
  • Close the curtains/blinds of all ground-floor windows
  • Use smart automatic light systems to vary the times when they turn on and off
  • Leave a radio or television on in the house to give the appearance that someone is home
  • For extended holidays, ask a neighbor or hire a service to cut your grass or shovel your snow
  • Trim trees and hedges
  • Install security lights at the most obvious points of entry
  • Keep side and backyard gates closed and locked if you have them
  • Ensure your door is solid and fits tightly in the door jamb (a crowbar can easily slip in a too-large gap)
  • Secure window air conditioner units from the inside, or limit them to upstairs windows

Finally, you should also participate in or launch a Neighborhood Watch program. A recent study involving data from Canada, the UK, and the United States found these programs reduce crime by an average of 16%.

Having more eyes on your house means a much lower probability a burglar will pick you.


Signs That a Burglar Is Watching Your House

Many people are oblivious to what’s going on around them, especially when it comes to spotting crime. But if you pay attention, you can identify the telltale signs someone is casing your house for a burglary. Here’s how to tell if a burglar is watching your house.

  • The same unfamiliar vehicle hanging around over several days, either frequently driving by your place or parked nearby.
  • Unfamiliar individuals walking back and forth on your street or back alley.
  • Someone taking photos of your property. You might not catch them in the act, but if you see a stranger with a camera on your street, that’s a cause for concern.
  • Loose light bulbs on exterior lights. Burglars often unscrew them prior to a break-in.
  • Strangers at your door. Burglars will knock to see if someone is home, giving an excuse—requesting directions, looking for a “lost dog,” claiming they’re at the wrong house—whenever someone answers.
  • Mild vandalism like a rock through a side window. Burglars do this to know what happens if a window breaks. Is there an alarm system? How quickly will the cops come?
  • Someone lets your dog out of your yard. Or someone shows a fond interest in your dog. Befriending or getting rid of your dog makes their task easier.
  • Telephone calls that hang up when you answer. Burglars do this to find out who, if anyone, is home.
  • Clear tape over the keyhole to your front door. Then, when you use your keys, they know you’re home. This could provide them with an idea of your schedule.
  • Trash rummaging. Burglars might go through your trash to find documents that reveal important personal details. Always shred your documents before discarding them.

Of course, there are also more literal signs that your house is marked.

Are You Being Marked?

Recently, there have been homes in both North America and Europe with strange markings discovered somewhere outside. According to the authorities, criminals often leave these as either a reminder to themselves or a message to their accomplices.


If you find odd chalk markings on your property, it’s a good idea to inform the proper authorities. These marks may be from the kids down the street, or they could be from a burglar. House robbery markings aren’t always obvious and their meaning usually isn’t clear, but the police may have information on what (if anything) they mean.

Don’t Become a Burglar’s Victim

There are more than 2.5 million burglaries each year in the United States, with an average dollar loss of $2,251 per burglary. Unless you want to be part of that statistic, you need to take steps to protect your property and learn how to tell if a burglar is watching your house.

It’s entirely possible that would-be burglars are casing your home. They’re returning several times looking for easy access points, proof that you’re not home, evidence of valuables, and whatever other data they can gather. Don’t make it easy for them. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Deep Sentinel’s security camera monitoring system uses AI to recognize threats at your property and intervene before any damage is done. It is the best and most reliable alternative to ADT and other burglar alarm systems. Keep your home safe and avoid burglary with Deep Sentinel.

Need a Solution that Prevents Crime?

Deep Sentinel is the only security technology that delivers the experience of a personal guard on every customer’s home and business. Visit, call 833-983-6006, or request a free security consultation below:

Share This