(FOX 11) - A victim watched a bold burglary in real-time on his phone while he was at work.
“I saw at least one guy go through the window that they had broken to access the house and that’s when I thought this is a real thing,” the victim, who didn’t want to be identified, told FOX 11.
His home security cameras captured two men breaking a side window, while another stood watch at the front door.
“They had hoodies on and socks over hands,” he said describing the video.
It took only a few minutes before the homeowner said one of the burglars walked out carrying his safe with valuables inside. In shock, he called police, who arrived just in time to nab the suspects not far from the house.
“I was pretty lucky to have seen the video and the event in action real-time and for them to have been caught,” he said.
Police said the suspects are part of a larger crew of "knock-knock burglars" who strike during the day when they think nobody is home. In the last year, the crime ring has hit hundreds of West Valley houses, including the high-end homes of celebrities and athletes.
How can you protect your home so you don’t become a victim? For answers to those questions, FOX 11 Investigates consulted police specialist Jim Holcomb.
“Knock-knock has been a pattern for years and years. It’s just that they’re more sophisticated and they’re organized,” Holcomb said.
Knock-knock burglars act fast, typically in teams of three, that spend about five minutes inside your home.
“They’re looking for money, cash, jewelry, small things that they can sell easily and quickly,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb’s first tip: Don’t advertise your home security system. That way, when the alarm goes off it has a better chance of startling burglars.
“Don’t put anything up on your house that would make them think that you have any kind of protection,” Holcomb said. “Let them be surprised on the perimeter. Don’t let them get inside.”
Holcomb says every entry point should be wired, right down to your window screens.
“I would recommend a full perimeter, wired burglar alarm system, not wireless,” Holcomb said.
Next tip: Back up your alarm system with high resolution security cameras. Holcomb believes it’s a big misconception that cameras will deter burglars when in fact, burglars come expecting cameras.
The knock-knock crew often wears baseball caps and hoodies to hide their faces from cameras positioned at a high angle.
“The best way to identify them is with a camera they don’t see, for instance one located away from the house in a bird house for instance,” Holcomb said. “All you need is one second of a picture of them, but it has to be a clear picture and a very detailed picture”
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