Home burglary by relatives
The above link describes a burglary at the home of a minister on Christmas Eve while the minister was away conducting Christmas Eve services at his church. I assume the CBS station in Pittsburgh covered this routine story of a burglary because of the outrage it would probably provoke in many people because it was committed against a religious leader on a religious holiday. "What is our society coming to?!" Actually, I'm posting the story here because there are so many elements in it that are so routine that the story serves as a good reminder for anyone trying to secure their home from being burglarized. The following are the routine elements and related reminders:
1. The burglars (niece of the minister and her boyfriend) are related to the victim and have been in his house in the past. They are familiar with the layout of the house, the various entrances (including which would be easiest to force open or is often left unlocked, least likely to be observed doing so, etc.), and at least some of the valuables which could be stolen after breaking in. When planning to set up your property to prevent burglary don't start by thinking about defeating the total stranger passing through town ripping off residences. Think about all your family members, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and visitors who have ever been in your house. This pool of people is the most likely to produce the person who breaks into your house, AND the ones you are most likely NOT prepared to defend against. Let's hope the perpetrators in this instance didn't have a key of their own, know where the residents keep an emergency key outside, or know a code to turn off the alarm. The story doesn't say, but all three of these are fairly common. If you must give a key or alarm code to ANYBODY, you better be sure you can trust them and you should still have most of your valuables secured well enough inside the house so that finding, accessing and escaping with your most-valuables would be very difficult even after unlocking the door. Don't tell or show friends or relatives where your safe is, where you hide your valuables, where your guns are hidden/displayed, and so on. If you have to give someone an alarm code, be sure to electronically delete it after the need for it has passed and never use that code again. Change your locks immediately after moving into a new residence and anytime there is conflict between you and the person you gave a key to (recently divorced spouse, your daughter's formerly trusted ex-boyfriend, the boy you fired from cutting your lawn, etc.).
2. The burglars knew the victim's schedule and struck when they knew he would not be home, holy day or not. Most burglars know your schedule and break in when they know you are not going to be home. This is why neighbors, friends and family are such common perpetrators. In many places, it is common practice for families who are going to be away from home for hours at a funeral or wedding to ask a trusted family friend to skip the wedding/funeral and babysit the house until they return. Very good idea. However, even strangers can access your schedule with a little effort (often VERY LITTLE effort). Your postings on social media sites is a common gold mine for burglars. Don't advertise when you're going to be away from home for the whole world to see, but if you do anyway take extra precautions.
3. Most burglars have drug and/or alcohol problems, so any that are in your circle of acquaintances should be dealt with cautiously. This doesn't mean you shouldn't let them in your house, but it does mean you should be extra, extra cautious about your security procedures and equipment. You should also be honest and aware of how desperate and evil addicts/alcoholics can be, especially when they are desperate to get high and when they are under the influence. If you aren't experienced dealing with people in either of those conditions, please begin to open your eyes and mind to those realities with some educational experiences. You can easily underestimate a friend or relative you've never seen in one of those conditions and leave yourself wide open to being victimized, injured or killed. People who commit a burglary while they are desperate to get high or under the influence can be particularly dangerous if they are surprised and confronted by residents who come home or happen to be home during the burglary. You could easily underestimate the danger posed by a burglar you have surprised who is desperate to get high/is high because you know and care for that person, though maybe you've never seen them in that condition in which you find them at that moment. Plenty of serious felony assaults and murders occur in just that situation, so please don't underestimate the danger you will be in in that awful moment.
4. Firearms should be secured very well in the home. It should not be easy for a burglar to find and take them after they have broken in. This news story doesn't say where the handgun stolen in this incident was kept, but I'd bet my left arm it wasn't in a safe of any kind or equipped with any kind of lock. After handling 100's of burglaries I've never seen anything taken from a locked safe, though I have seen small lock boxes containing one handgun carted away (and opened later by force) and I have seen all kinds of stuff taken from unlocked safes. (I am NOT saying safes are invulnerable, because they aren't. Most can be broken in to in a matter of minutes. I'm just saying most burglars don't have the time, the skill or the tools to break in to a safe, so they don't even try most of the time.) I say this not primarily to keep you from having your gun(s) stolen. I say it primarily because stolen guns usually end up in the hands of someone who is going to use them to commit additional crimes, sometimes horrific crimes. Guns stolen in burglaries aren't sold to gun shops and then resold to the unsuspecting public. Stolen guns are used to commit armed robberies, shootings, suicides, and murders. Most desperate addicts/alcoholics I've ever dealt with would quickly sell a gun if they ever got one. For them, that's the quickest, safest and easiest way to get high. However, an addict/alcoholic inclined to violence or someone who would buy a stolen gun from an addict/alcoholic can wreak astounding violence on communities once they get access to a stolen gun.
Just a few words to the wise.