No matter how much money we invest in security systems, the bad guys will always find a way to break in and steal your possessions, or worse. In this particular situation, the robbers decided to use the most mundane item which you can find lying around your office or your home, a rubber band.
This family had to find about about this dangerous trick by accident. As Kim Fleming Cernigliaro, a Texas resident was sitting at home one day, she heard a vigorous knocking at her door and got a strange feeling of fear.
Luckily, she decided not to open the door until the knocking had stopped and there was no one in sight. However, when she looked at her doorknob, she noticed something stuck to it that was definitely not there before. And that’s where the story gets scary…
In April 2016, Texas-born Kim Fleming Cernigliaro shared a story on Facebook, which started off with someone knocking on the door. Urgently.
Kim knew that the urgent pounding on the door wasn’t just the mailman wanting her to sign for a package or a next door neighbor. Instead, Kim’s first thought was that someone was in danger, and they needed a safe refuge. However, she had always been aware of stranger danger and stuck by her morals to never open the door when she is home alone, so remained silent and waited for the person to leave. Luckily, after a while, the knocking stopped.
On her Facebook post, Cernigliaro explained that she remained in the house for at least half an hour to ensure that the person who knocked on the door was really gone. But after a while, she wanted to investigate and ventured outside to see if the person had left any junk mail or pamphlets on her doorstep. Instead, there was nothing. The porch was empty. Kim continued to look around, and soon saw what the person had really left behind…
An urgent call
What Kim saw on her porch disorientated her for a moment. What was a rubber band doing around her door knob? Suddenly, Kim realized. On her Facebook post, Kim wrote that the rubber band had intentionally put on the door knob by the insistent knocker, who would use it to hold the door latch open when it became unlocked. Concerned, Kim rushed to the phone and dialed her husband’s number, who told her to keep their gun on her.
It wasn’t the first
After calling her husband, Kim knew that she had to alert the police about the incident – but as soon as she told them about the rubber band, they were not surprised. According to her post, the Sheriff told her that the same technique had been used in numerous burglaries around the area. The burglars would place the rubber band around the door, knock vigorously, and then force their way into the homes with ease because of the open latch.
A Facebook threat
Despite the fact she allegedly wasn’t alone in her ordeal, Kim wasn’t happy with the situation she had been placed in – and she finished off her Facebook post with a threat to the attempted burglars. Soon, people all around Texas were aware of the threat of the rubber band attempted burglary, and shared Kim’s post as a warning to those who still answered the doors to strangers. As the post reached more and more people, many of the local newspapers around Texas began to write about the story.
Furthering their investigations
As the story picked up more and more traction, news sites began offering their own insight into the attempted rubber band burglaries. In fact, many suggested that these burglars would often mark their targeted houses in advance, and always target the houses where they could be sure the homeowner was inside. This would allow them easy access into the home to steal anything they wanted.
The symbol of fear
Like all viral posts, the outreach is huge and can reach thousands of people. Suddenly, the Facebook post, the news articles, and the news coverage had reached homeowners from all across the United States of America – and they were scared. Soon enough, the concept behind the rubber band burglary had become a symbol of fear, with many people believing that if they were to find a rubber band around their door knob, they would soon be robbed.
A growing hysteria
As news stations and people from all across the country gave in to the growing hysteria surrounding the elastic band, many headlines offered advice. Residents were warned to vacate their home immediately if they found an elastic band around their door knob, alert the police and arm themselves if they felt it necessary. But more than anything, homeowners all across the US were scared to open the door to anyone – just in case they came to rob them.
Kim was absolutely shaken from the ordeal, and knew she had to get the information out as quickly as possible to as many people as she could. She put out a Facebook post warning, in detail about the events that happened to her on that scary day.
The Facebook Post
Her post had to be detailed and urgent, as it had two main purposes. One was to warn her fellow neighbors and friends about the potential danger, and the other was to warn the burglar (if he even had her on Facebook)that she has a gun and knows how to use it.
Not the first time
Although people across the country were shocked by the news of the rubber band burglar, this wasn’t the first time they had heard of burglar tricks. Nowadays, burglars across the US are coming up with new and improved ways to trick their way into the houses of their victims. Sometimes, they may seem rather obvious. Other times, they are obscure and original. But there is one thing they all have in common; they aim to succeed.
If you live in a wealthy neighborhood, you may be considered a target for a new burglar trend – flocking. The trend has become increasingly popular in Los Angeles, California, with many celebrities and rich homeowners becoming the unsuspecting victims of this niche burglar. The idea behind flocking is simple yet effective; they blend in so as to not arouse suspicion, and then they overpower the neighborhood. Instead of their all-black attire, they dress in their button-down shirts and drive around in their sports cars.
However, these burglars do not work alone. In fact, a group of burglars all work together to make the Flocking plan work. As they drive around, they scout out those houses that are visibly empty and those that look particularly vulnerable, with lots of jewelry and expensive possessions inside. They pull up into the driveways and knock on the door – but of course, they know nobody will answer. They then break in and walk unsuspectingly away from the crime with their hands full.
As a team
Although these burglars work on their own when they break into an individual house, they flock together like birds and can often burgle numerous houses at the same time. They re-group when they have finished and share the bounty between them. This has become a growing trend, and celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Alanis Morissette, Emmy Rossum, Nick Young and more have had some of their most precious and most expensive belongings stolen by these frequent opportunists.
A fake sticker
A growing trend in the UK is fooling many homeowners across the country and leaving their homes vulnerable to burglary. In London, many thieves are now marking their victims’ homes with small, fake stickers that advertise a local locksmith. However, these stickers are not legitimate. Instead, they are used by opportunists who scout out homes in certain areas of the city and mark the ones they believe are most vulnerable. Once they have scouted them out, they mark it with the sticker.
What they’re looking for
These burglars scout out the homes for numerous details. They inspect whether the house is empty during the day, whether all windows and doors are locked, if the house is alarmed and the best routes into the house. Once these burglars are satisfied that they can easily enter the home, they return at a later date to complete their burglary. London Police noted that they normally occurred between 3 pm and 7 pm – when most people are at work.
When you let people into your house, you are trusting them to do their job without your supervision. Many of us will have our houses decorated or have workmen fix broken appliances, and have no choice but to let them into our homes. However, many thieves are now using their jobs as cover to steal from these houses – and taking advantage of the people who are paying them to work. Once they are gone, it’s hard to catch them.
When these workers turn up to your home, there may be one amongst them who has ulterior motives. Throughout the course of the job, they may take the time to unlock one of your windows or take the car keys that are lying on the cabinet. The workers can easily get away with these small actions before getting back to work, without anyone noticing what they have done. They can then return later through the opened window, or with the keys they’ve stolen.
Police in America are becoming increasingly worried about the use of Bump Keys in burglaries across the country. Bump Keys are similar to skeleton keys, whereby the holder can gain entry into numerous locks. However, these keys are normally only used by locksmiths who use it for their trade. Unfortunately, Bump Keys can now be bought on the Black Market – and thieves are using this to their advantage and gaining entry to homes without the need to break in.
The scariest aspect of Bump Keys is that there is no break-in involved. Jacquie Diaz’s home was burgled in March 2016 by a burglar using a Bump Key. However, she had no idea she had been burgled until she realized that her laptop and other possessions had been taken – although at first, she thought she had simply misplaced them. Police have reported similar burglaries like this across New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, and Texas and believe the problem may be getting worse.
New and improved signs
Many burglars in the UK are now working as groups – and have found a new and improved way to communicate with each other, which could leave your house vulnerable. Police in Manchester, UK noticed a trend in reported burglaries, with most of the houses bearing signs and symbols on their outside brickwork which alerted fellow burglars about the contents of the house. These gangs were surveying houses in the Manchester area and scouting them out before leaving their mark.
After searching the outside of the house, the burglars would then chalk the houses with a symbol that had a specific meaning. These marks determined whether the house was alarmed, whether it had been previously burgled, whether it was a good target, whether there was a vulnerable occupant, whether there was a scared occupant, whether there was anything worth stealing, whether it was too risky or wealthy. Their fellow burglars would then follow up on these markings and carry out their burglaries.
A stony welcome
Burglars both in the UK and the US are also adopting a similar method – and are marking their targets in increasingly unique ways. One new method used by burglars is to use stones as markers. Many burglars often find it difficult to truly scout out a potential house, which often leads to them getting caught. However, these stones are the perfect way to monitor the activity in potentially unoccupied houses and give them a better chance for an increased success rate.
Marking their territory
These burglars will all have their own. They may place a number of stones in a row to determine how many live in the house, or they may place these stones in a certain shape to acknowledge that the house is unoccupied during the day. They can also use them to test their potential victims. By placing a stone in the middle of their driveway, the homeowner is likely to move it if they are in. If not, the house may be empty.
Using social media
In a world of increasing technology, many robbers are now taking advantage of this and using technology to aid their burglaries. However, many of us are leading them straight into our homes. With smart-phones and location technology available, nearly 80% of burglars in the US now use your social media profiles to plan out their next burglary. If you have public social media profiles and your location services activated and post that you are on vacation, they know your house is empty.
Google Street View
Once the burglar knows that your house is empty, they will then look up your house on Google Street View to determine whether it is worth robbing it or not. If it is, they know exactly where you live and can easily enter your house using more traditional methods. It’s always important to ensure you keep your social media profile’s private, and never make it common knowledge that you are out of your house or on vacation.
Oldest trick in the book
People across the world are naturally worried about the prospect of their house being burgled, and many will employ the use of their pet dog to deter any potential burglars who are eyeing up their house. However, this is the oldest trick in the book – and burglars are now rewriting the book for their own gain. Burglars are no longer scared of guard dogs or put off by the fact that there is a dog in the garden or house.
In fact, a report from the University of North Carolina has found that 45% of burglars would still continue with their robbery if there were a dog in the yard or in the house. That is because they now have new tricks to distract the dogs. Many thieves will often offer these dogs food and treats that are laced with sedatives to knock them out while they get on with their burglary. This way, they have the whole house to themselves.
The real deal
With all of these tricks and trends around the world, leaving and protecting your home can be tricky – but it can be done, and you can outsmart those who wish to rob you. One of the main ways to deter a burglar is to make sure you buy a state of the art front door – the real deal. Many people believe it is only their door locks that need to be of high quality, but this is not true.
Keeping them at bay
Although buying a brand new front door may be expensive, it is worth it. When faced with a flimsy door, burglars will have no problem breaking in with a crowbar – even if the lock is of high quality. However, sturdy, thick doors are more daunting more potential burglars and can often deter them, as they know it will take them longer to crack. The longer it takes them to crack, the higher chance of them being caught.
Motion sensor lights
When it comes to securing your property, motion sensor lights are a godsend. These lights are simple in design but can work wonders when preventing burglars. They light up whenever they sense motion, which can often catch burglars by surprise as they try and work their magic in the middle of the night. These lights will notify you and your neighbors when something has triggered the lights, which means you could catch them in the act or put them off.
Avoid social media
With the growing trend of robbers using social media to aid their robberies, it’s also important to secure your social media profiles and not give these burglars entry into your own home. Always make sure your profiles are private, and you only let your immediate family and neighbors know that you are going on vacation – they can then check in on your house every so often. Do not post your location on social media, as this gives thieves an opportunity they couldn’t refuse.
Keep them locked
Keeping all of your windows and doors locked when you’re out of the house is one of the easiest ways to deter thieves. During the summer months, it can be easy to forget, but you must always make sure you go around your house before you go away and lock them back up. It’s always best to check that your windows and doors are locked after workmen have been in your house, to ensure that they will not return.
The trust house alarm
Although house alarms do not always phase a robber, they are one of your best assets. Alarms do not only phase those who wish to burgle your house, but they also alert the people and houses around you that you may be being robbed. Unless a robber is extremely skilled in stopping the alarm, this will give neighbors the chance to call the police. Bump up your home security with CCTV cameras, and they should be able to catch them.
Retain your privacy
One of the best ways not to tempt any burglars is to not let them in on what’s inside your house. Even when you are at home, try to keep all of your valuables out of view from any windows, or even skylights you may have. It’s even better if you can keep your blinds closed and your curtains drawn, at least when you are out of the house. If the robber doesn’t know what potential there is to steal, he might not be coerced into doing it in the first place.
Just like Kim Fleming Cernigliaro, many people across the world are victims of burglary. With new tricks and trends each year, it’s important that we always keep a lookout for anything out of the ordinary. Whether it’s a rubber band on your door handle, stones on your driveway, marks on your outside walls or unlocked windows, protecting yourselves and ensuring your house is protected is of utmost importance to beat thieves once and for all. We won’t let them get away with it.