How To Tell If A Burglar Is Watching Your House

Aug 30, 2019 | Burglary, CCTV, Door Entry Systems, Home Alarms, Home Security, Locks

Most of us have heard the term ‘casing the joint’ in an old movie. It’s a slang term to describe the method used by burglars who are assessing whether to target a particular home or business.

These individuals will watch your property and look for patterns so they can decide:

  • is it a worthwhile target for return
  • what security measures are in place to stop them
  • when is the best time to attempt their break-in

But what signs should you look for to understand that you’re being watched by a burglar?

How to tell if a burglar is watching your house

Stickers and stones… and flyers

Are there any strange markings around your property? Urban myth or council shorthand, the Da Pinchi Code has stirred up a lot of angst amongst homeowners. Some say it’s been proven that chalk marks on pavements are nothing to do with burglars but utility company employees leaving messages for each other. Whilst others highlight how string and even random shoes can be used as burglar speak to highlight ‘easy pickings’ or ‘too risky’.

One thing that you definitely do need to be careful about is flyers in your letterbox. Yes, these may sometimes be used by burglars to denote a suitable property for a visit. But, more likely, flyers left hanging out of your letterbox for any length of time signifies to EVERYONE a house that is empty. Always bring in post and flyers asap.

how to tell if a burglar is watching your house

Strange vehicles

Residents all know the cars and vans that regularly park in the street. The ones that belong to the people who live in the houses and the ones owned by workers at nearby shops, schools and businesses.

But if you notice a strange vehicle, you should keep an eye on it. Particularly if it has dark tinted windows and you think there is someone inside it. It could be someone watching the routine of the street prior to choosing a home to burgle. You can alert the Police on 101. But check all windows and doors are locked and always use your alarm when you go out.


Any stranger who is walking up and down your street for any length of time should be considered suspicious. If they’re taking photos of the houses, you really should be on your guard. Call the Police on 101 to be on the safe side.

Door-to-door knocking

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. The phony gas man – like the one who attacked Petra Kvitova.

Or knocking on the door and claiming an emergency, a desperate need for the toilet or a glass of water. These shady individuals play on your good nature to get inside your home or even just to distract you whilst their mate breaks in round the back. Don’t be fooled. You don’t need to let anyone in. Video or audio door entry systems are your best friend in this scenario.

But, worse still, it’s a great way to find out when a home is regularly empty. Mid-morning or mid-afternoon is their favourite time. To coincide with any homeowner being out shopping or picking the kids up from school. A CCTV camera will help you to see whether this is happening whilst you’re running your regular errands.

Uncertified Workmen

A few days after you have work done by an accredited company at your home, a new workman knocks on your door. He claims to be from the company who did the previous work. And needs to finish up a repair. Always ask to see ID. And, if you’re not sure, call the company to find out. Don’t let him in until you have checked he is pukka.

Leaflet drops

Of course some people delivering flyers are genuinely doing just that. But it’s a well known trick of the trade to use this simple every day occurrence as a disguise. It’s a great way to get a look at the front doors and windows of a large number of homes without arousing the suspicion of any neighbours. Again, a CCTV system can help keep an eye on who has been by your front door.

Social Media

Everyone is on some sort of social media. We all love Facebook and Instagram. But it’s a great source of intelligence for thieves. Have you connected with people that you don’t actually know? There is always a chance that a burglar could be one of the ‘friends’ you tell when you are showing off pics of you on the beach during your two week holiday or at the gym on your regular Wednesday 11am to 1pm visit. Go through your list of friends and restrict access to anyone you don’t know well (or have never met). And don’t post pictures in real time.

Now you know how to tell if a burglar is watching your house.

But what next?

How to secure your home

  • Tell the Police
  • Tell your neighbours about unusual activity
  • Keep a record of people, vehicles and events – dates and times
  • Check the footage from your security cameras – is there evidence that someone has been on your property when they should not have been there?
  • Check your doors and windows – are they all secure with good quality locks
  • Are there vulnerable areas in your home security?
  • Sign up to get your home security monitored. Knowing someone is watching your property when you are not there can give real peace of mind.

Want to know the thing that TURNS MOST BURGLARS OFF A HOUSE? See the infographic here.

Learn More About Home Security

This blog post is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. Speak to a professional for specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site.

Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up to date.