SAN ANTONIO, TX – As home burglaries continue to increase, the team at KFDM 6 News in San Antonio surveyed inmates serving time for burglary for advice on how homeowners can prevent break-ins.
One hundred inmates incarcerated in Jefferson, Hardin, and Orange counties were sent a 20 questions survey regarding their expertise. According to the news station, 64 of the inmates responded to the survey.
When asked how they chose which homes were chosen, the inmates gave the following responses.
"Usually nice neighborhoods, where I knew no one would be home because they're working."
"I have even knocked on doors where I would then be invited inside to take what I wanted. In once case, I was even given a glass of tea."
The survey revealed most burglars opted to enter homes during the night or early in the morning. The most common items they searched for were money, jewelry and electronics, and medicine cabinets.
Many of the inmates stated they often conducted surveillance of the homes before selecting their targets.
"I'd ride my bike around the neighborhood with safety gear on pretending I'm exercising."
According to the inmates, security signs and cameras did not necessarily deter them from breaking in.
"Once at the door, I look for security boxes. If the home is worth breaking into, I shoot the transformer on the block."
"I always wore a ball cap. Most cameras were placed at a level above the heads of people. Most cameras were never connected."
"If the home looked like it was worth it, I'd come back with a disguise."
By contrast, the majority stated seeing lights or TVs on inside homes made them think twice.
When asked if pets were an effective deterrence, the answers were split. Of the 64 respondents, 37 said a pet made them think twice, while others said it was not a factor.
"I even stole a pet once. After seeing a poster for a reward, I returned it."
Part of the questionnaire also asked inmates why they resorted to crime –– many of them answered they did not have jobs or felt pressured by friends.
"At a young age, I thought it was an adventure doing burglaries. As I got older and uneducated, I turned it into my only skill to get money."
"I just wanted to be respected."
According to the majority of inmates having a guard dog and asking neighbors to check on the home were the best options.
One former inmate shared his story that began with drug addiction,
"I got addicted to my drug, and it got so bad I started kicking in doors and robbing businesses," said Bryan Hanks. "I always went through the door. I knocked on the door, and if no one answered, I'd wait a few seconds. If they did answer, I'd say, 'Hey, I'm here to look for somebody.' If they didn't answer, I just kicked the door in."
Hanks was sentenced to seven years in prison. After serving his time, Hanks took charge of his life and now runs a business in Vidor and has custody of his children.
"I went in there, did my thing, and came out," said Hanks."And when I got my fix, that's all it was. I never hurt nobody. I came from a good family. I still come from a good family. It was my choosing. I chose my path and it's wrong. But now I'm on a new path."
According to KFDM 6 News, many of the inmates shared similar feelings. Others were thankful for the opportunity to share their story and help others protect themselves since they couldn't change what they did.