A former burglar who was in prison for 10 years reveals how she used to target homes — and why alarm systems don't work

Burglar entering house with crowbar
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  • Jennifer Gomez was in prison between 2011 and 2020 for burglary.

  • She now gives people advice on how to keep their homes safe.

  • In one video, she lays out what she used to look for to decide whether a mark would be profitable.

A former thief is sharing advice on how to keep your home safe from burglaries by pointing out all the things she used to look out for to see whether a house would be profitable to hit.

Jennifer Gomez was in prison between 2011 and 2020 for burglary. On her TikTok account, where she has almost 100,000 followers, she describes herself as a former "cat burglar."

In one recent video, she listed what she would look for in a home that she was going to burglarize to determine whether it was "actually a good location."

The first thing Gomez would do, she said, was check the weather.

"I would check the weather for a couple days ahead of time to really get a day that I knew was going to be a good day to hit," she said.

On a bright, sunny day, she said, people would be outside more, walking dogs, pushing babies in strollers, and exercising, so she would look for houses that were farther apart and more isolated.

On a rainy day, she had more choices.

"That's the best of the best," she said. "Because in that type of weather condition, people are not only not outside, but they also aren't going to chase you. They're not going to come outside just to be nosy because they think something looks weird and get all wet."

People don't tend to look outside when the weather is miserable, Gomez added, and even if they did, they probably wouldn't be able to see her very well.

"The nastier it was the better off I was," she said.

The next factor she would consider was the time of day. She said she would wake up at 5 a.m. because she knew the majority of people, other than stay-at-home parents, would be out of the house by 8 a.m.

Between 8 and 11 a.m. was "prime time" for stealing, Gomez said.

She said she also looked out for security systems. Rather than deter her, the presence of one let her know there was something valuable and worth stealing inside.

She said in Florida, where she's from, the police would call the house if the alarm went off. If nobody answered, they would send officers around.

But this wasted a lot of police time, so they changed the rules. Since about 2006, Gomez said, unless the police or the alarm-system company makes contact with the homeowner, officers won't go to the property.

"And I knew that," Gomez said.

She said she would wait for the alarm to go off, then knew if the homeowner was contacted, she had about 10 to 15 minutes before the police showed up.

"That, for me, was all I needed," she said. "So now what I needed to ensure was that there was a window somewhere low enough where I could use tools that I had."

Gomez had glass-cutting tools, including gloves, a hammer, and a sucker to pull the sliced glass out, she said.

The next thing she looked out for was a sign for pets in the home because wealthy people often allowed the animals to roam freely.

"The reason that it was important to have an animal walking around is because then I knew that the motion sensors for the alarm system were likely off," she said.

Other things on Gomez's checklist were wearing shoes that were one size too large or small in case she left a footprint, always tying her hair up, and always wearing scrubs.

"I tried to find houses that either had a back gate that was pretty high, not like a chain-link fence but something that could hide me, had a door that I could open, or some way I could climb it," she said. "And I preferred that the back gates or fences back up to a main road, or at least that I'm in a cul-de-sac, something like that."

She would also look for decorative landscaping with bushes and shrubbery so she had plenty of things to hide behind.

Gomez was going for the "big head honchos" and the "real upper class," she said — people she thought at the time could easily replace what she was taking.

"They weren't really in need of it. They had a lot of money. They had homeowners insurance," she said. "And I tried to also kind of steer clear of things that looked like heirlooms, but let's be real. I was a thief. So it's not like I wasn't doing anyone any favors."

Gomez said she felt "an insane amount of remorse and regret" for everything she did back then. She said she wasn't "glorifying" her decisions but wanted to make people aware of her state of mind while she was breaking into homes.

"I'm just telling you guys what my life was like because maybe it'll help somebody," she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider