(CBS) — The busy season for home burglaries is now. While people ship presents and travel for the holidays, burglaries spike. The best protection: a safe bolted to a floor in your home. In his Original Report, CBS 2 Investigative Reporter Dave Savini looks at how burglars operate.
Burglars scout their victims, watching for patterns, to see when no one will be home. They will bring food to keep dogs calm and quiet. They also look for busy streets so they can blend in.
Tiffany and Marc Clemans had $50,000 in jewelry taken by a burglar.
“I lost everything,” said Tiffany Clemans, who said the burglars knew exactly where to go. “Straight upstairs to our master bedroom where I had a jewelry box filled with jewelry.”
Burglary expert Chicago Police Sgt. Maudessie Jointer says the master bedroom nearly always gets hit first.
“That is the holy grail,” said Jointer. “Most of our burglars will tell us, in that master bedroom, most people like keeping their good stuff close to them.”
That is what happened at a Naperville home burglarized in less than nine minutes. The crooks went right to the master bedroom. The victims lost $75,000 in jewelry and cash. The burglars picked a time to strike when landscaping crews were in the area.
“It’s a great cover,” said Jointer. “If you have to break glass to get in, who would really hear it?”
At the Naperville home, burglars first tried to get through a sliding glass door with a burglary tool. When that failed, they went around to another door. Finally they ended up at the side garage door where they picked the lock. The house alarm went off, but burglars know they still have time before police arrive.
Admitted burglar, now security expert, Marcus Williams pulled his first job at age 14. He explains how fast burglars operate.
“I go from top to bottom within five to seven minutes,” said Williams. “We’re mainly going for cash, jewelry anything that’s real moveable.”
He says the master bedroom nightstand, under the bed, pockets of women’s coats are all prime targets for burglars. Along with safe’s that are not bolted to the floor.
“They are easy to carry out,” said Williams who reports a burglar’s favorite tool. “The number one tool is a screwdriver. That will get you through a lock or a window.”
He says getting rid of stolen goods, especially jewelry can be easy at resale shops and Cash For Gold places.
“Cash For Gold, cause it’s really no paper trail,” said Williams.
Those places are not regulated like pawn shops, but they should be says a woman who does not want to be identified. She had jewelry stolen that had great sentimental value.
“My grandma’s seven-carat amethyst ring,” said the victim.
Police suspected a man named Sean Priebe took her jewelry. So she brought his picture and name to a local resale shop hoping he would be caught. Two weeks later, despite the warning, the shop bought the jewelry from Priebe.
A woman from the Rockstar Resale Shop in Yorkville paid Priebe cash for the gold and jewels and admitted to doing prior business with Priebe.
“I bought much stuff off of him many times,” said the woman at the store who denied buying the jewelry after the victim’s warning.
Priebe has been charged, but the jewelry never recovered.
Resale shops and cash for gold places do not have to follow pawn shop reporting rules. Yorkville has its own and they are investigating that shop.
To protect yourself from a burglar, do not use jewelry boxes which are easy to grab. Use a safe bolted to the floor. Burglars know people will hide cash in cans and freezers too.
If you have an alarm, use a cell phone number as your contact number. Burglars will answer your home phone and will delay the alarm company from calling police.
After buying expensive items, do not put the empty boxes outside until garbage pick-up day. Do not talk on social media or in public places about planned vacations or expensive purchases. When you are on vacation, make sure your house has lights on and newspapers and mail picked up. When there is a death in the family, have someone stay at your home while you are at the funeral. Burglars look at obituaries to find out when people are away at funerals.
Be aware most burglaries happen during the day between nine and three. Burglars do not want you home, then they could face home invasion charges and significantly more prison time.
To learn more about the types of locks to use, along with other tips, please read this letter from Northfield Police.