How to Tell if Someone Has Been in Your Apartment?

How to Tell if Someone Has Been in Your Apartment?

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Can you hit someone if they break into your house?

The law states that you can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others if a crime is taking place inside your home. This means you can protect yourself “in the heat of the moment”, which includes using an object as a weapon – you are also allowed to stop an intruder running off.

Strange Markings

Any strange spray paint, chalk, or graffiti on your home or around your home is cause for alarm. This can be marking your house to burglars and their cohorts. You may not be able to decipher the meaning of the markings, but those in the know would be able to. Take a picture of the markings and inform law enforcement. If you notice random signs around your house or your neighbor’s house, it may not be harmless.

What You Will Need

  1. Camera
  2. Pen and Paper
  3. List of Numbers for Local Law Enforcement

An empty gas tank

You could have sworn you had more than a half a tank when you got home last night, but when you left in the morning, the gas meter was on empty—and you couldn’t make it to the gas station in time. There’s a chance a determined burglar drained your tank with a hole or a tube the night before. Now the thief can watch you leave for work, then enter your home without worrying about when you’ll be back. Know these 13 signs your home is vulnerable to being robbed.

What to do if you think someone is casing your house?

If you think that your home is being targeted, call the police and report that there is suspicious activity happening in and around your home. When the police arrive, describe the person and the car that the person was driving. If possible, provide the police with a license plate.

Does leaving a light on at night deter burglars?

Do security lights deter burglars? Yes, they can. Light makes it hard for them to conceal their identity, so they are more likely to find a darker home.

However, there are other common signs of surveillance as well. Read more below

Spot Common Signs of Surveillance

We’ve put together a list of typical signs that suggest you may be being spied on to help you detect hidden cameras or microphones, or other spyware.

Door to Door Scams

Many times when a house is being cased, the potential burglars will put flyers or newspapers on your lawn or in your door. You may get a knock on the door. They may be advertising some sort of business service. Be sure to ask them for a business card. If they can’t provide one, then make a note of it.

This is to see if anyone is home and collecting the papers. If you get a paper but you don’t have a subscription, be on the lookout.

Make sure you take precautions. Burglars target homes that are routinely vacant during the day. They often will enter your home through the front door!

To avoid painting a bulls’ eye on your home, get rid of any flyers or distribution papers in a timely manner. This shows you are taking care of your home. If they know the house is occupied and being watched over, then they are less likely to attempt to rob the house.

Step 6: Check for Signs of Forced Entry

Then, inspect the perimeter for signs of a forced break-in. Is the gate, fence, or railing bent, dented, or otherwise tampered with? Check that all barriers to entry are intact, including the ground-floor window casings and all other entrances to the house.

Broken Locks

Not all thieves are going to break down a door or smash a window. They may have jimmied the lock and broke it. If you put your key in the lock and you can’t, then the lock has been damaged. 


Keep an eye out for nicks or scratches on the lock. A new kind of lock picking includes bumping, which does not require a thief to be exceptionally skilled. Bumping uses a tiny saw that can leave scratches by the keyhole that a trained eye will notice, but the average person will not. 


If you have windows or doors that lead outside, check those locks for any sign showing if they have been tampered with. It can be as small as a scratch or as big as a broken lock. 

Step 13: Check the Surveillance Footage from Your Security Cameras

If you have security cameras in your home, form a habit of going over the footage on a regular basis.

If you don’t have a camera, consider installing one or several — there are many great options on the market. I would recommend getting both an outdoor security camera, as well as an indoor one.


  • Make sure to get a wireless security camera or a battery-powered one. These dispense with the need for wiring, which is not only a hassle but also a potential security gap. Usually, the first thing a burglar would do is cut off any visible wiring to disable the security cameras and alarm.
  • Ensure your surveillance covers any vulnerable areas and points of entry, such as doors and windows, and that there are no blind spots left unmonitored.
  • If you can’t afford a proper security camera at this stage, you can use a hidden webcam or baby monitor instead.

What to do if You Think Your House is a Target

If you find any significant signs that your home is a potential burglary target, follow our steps below.


  • Take note of any details involving the suspicious person or people around your home; what they look like, vehicle information, etc.
  • Talk to your neighbors to see if they have noticed any suspicious activity and let them know of your concerns.
  • Alert local law enforcement of your concerns and provide them with the information that you have gathered so that they are aware and can keep a closer watch on your area.
  • If you haven’t already, this would be a good time to invest in a home security system. You can even grab some inexpensive security cameras online that will do the trick without putting much of a dent in your wallet.
  • Reinforce entrances and windows with additional locks and security measures.

If you think that burglars are stalking your house, another thing you should do is exercise extreme caution and let them see that you are making it difficult for them. Installing surveillance and alarm cameras is essential in this type of situation.

Floor Markings

Sometimes there is no telltale sign that someone has entered your apartment from the outside. When you are away and you come back home, look at the floor. You may see mud or a footprint that wasn’t there before you left. Furthermore, if you newly vacuumed your floor, you might be surprised to see footprints through the vacuum marks. 


Another thing to check for is scuff marks on tiles or laminate flooring. People who don’t carefully lift their feet can easily leave scuff marks on hardwood, tiles, or other hard flooring types. Pay close attention to the floors. 

Home Burglary Statistics

The statistics show alarming results in terms of home burglaries:

On average, there are 2.5 million robberies annually in the United States. This translates to 6,850 cases per day, that is, 10 per minute.

Less than 1 in 5 households has a security system. In addition to this, a home without a security system is 300% more likely to be broken into.

  • 34% of burglars enter through the front door.
  • 23% of burglars gain entrance through a first-floor window.
  • 22% of burglars break into a home through a back door.
  • 9% of burglars enter a home through the garage.
  • 4% of burglars get into a home through an unlocked entrance.
  • 2% of burglars enter somewhere on the second floor.

See more on home burglary facts and statistics

Light bulb problems

“Lights are burglars’ enemy,” says Logan. “In lights, they can be seen.” A thief who’s planning to break in might unscrew the bulbs around your house so they don’t turn on and reveal the burglar. Check the bulbs if your lights stop working suddenly. If they’re unscrewed but aren’t burnt out, a crook might be scoping your home, says Logan.

3 Signs Someone Has Broken Into Your Home

You already know that some burglaries can be challenging to detect. That’s why it’s crucial you pay attention to the little details — things like new marks and scratches on your tiles or a slightly off arrangement of the pillows on your couch.

If you can support those tiny pieces of evidence with proof that someone was targeting your house, you have much higher chances of convincing the police and finding the intruders. 

Also, if someone breaks into your house, they’ll probably take something. I suggest you make a list of all your valuables so that you can pinpoint what’s been stolen quickly.

With that said, here are the three most conclusive signs that someone has broken into your home.

Your Security Cameras Caught Burglars In the Act

In an ideal world, you have security cameras around your home. If they caught intruders in the act, you have solid evidence for a court case. Cameras also help in finding the intruders, as they’re more reliable than descriptions from eyewitnesses.

But clever burglars will know just how to avoid being caught on camera. Still, your footage could give you at least some hints about your intruder. It could also reveal the weak points of your security system, which can be of huge help to police. By reviewing the footage, they can create a theory on how the intruders got into your home.

There Are Signs Of an Entry

If you find your window smashed, that’s a failproof sign that someone broke into your home. But there are also subtler hints that could prove forced entry:

  • There are scratches on your door or around your door
  • You’re struggling to get the key into your lock
  • Your gate is bent or left open

Unfortunately, most burglars don’t practice forced entry. Instead, they enter your home when you leave the door unlocked or your windows open. This is called open entry, and it’s much more common than you think. Here’s what one inmate shared:

“We would go and just [check] door to door. We would run through backyards, just going door to door.”- Inmate #1

The inmate describes how he and his partners chose the homes they’ll break into. In most cases, these were homes that were left unlocked. 

If you know you left the doors or windows open, and you have reason to suspect you’ve been robbed, the first thing to do is pinpoint what’s missing.

Here’s why: if you can’t tell the police what’s been stolen, you have nothing to report. That’s why open entries are more dangerous. There’s little to no evidence of a break-in. 

Never Forget to Lock Your Door Again

Want your door to lock automatically whenever you close them? Turn on auto-lock. If you don’t like this feature, use your smartphone to lock the doors or check their status. Never forget to lock your door again.

A 4-Way Lock
[LEARN MORE >>>] A 3-Way Lock
[LEARN MORE >>>] A 2-Way Lock

Your Lock Has Been Tampered With

If there’s visible damage on your lock, this is a bulletproof sign that someone tried to enter your home. This can include marks, scratches, or parts of your lock missing.

But there are also a few subtler hints that an intruder might leave. Loose hardware, for example. If you notice that your screws or lock aren’t as tight as they were, someone might have broken into your home.

The last thing to pay attention to is how easily the key gets into the lock. If you’re having difficulties that you didn’t have previously, this could be because an intruder damaged your lock.

4 Signs of Burglars Targeting Your Home

I’ll first walk you through telltale signs that someone was or is targeting your home. If you can put two and two together — signs of targeting and signs of a break-in — you’ll have a much stronger case.

Unknown Vehicles In Your Neighbourhood

Burglars need a good understanding of two things: the layout of your home and your everyday schedule. To gain it, they have to watch you. 

Have you noticed someone watching you recently? That could indicate that your home was or could be broken into. 

Here’s how to know for sure if someone’s targeting you, and what to do if someone is:

  • Usually, burglars will watch you from their vehicles. They might have tinted windows and a regular car that doesn’t draw a lot of attention. Tinted windows are a red flag especially if a car is parked at the same spot for longer.
  • If you notice the same vehicle near your house often, take pictures of it. You can try showing it to your neighbours to double-check whether the car belongs to them or someone they know.
  • If you have reason to suspect that burglars are targeting your home, call the police. They’ll probably be happy to check the vehicle for you. They might scare your stalkers and deter them from breaking into your home.
  • If you have a home security system, direct the cameras towards the vehicle and monitor what happens when you leave the house. Often, burglars will snoop around your home before they attack.

People Around Your House

Of course, burglars can watch your house on foot too. Avoiding vehicles can make them seem less suspicious. They might pretend they’re jogging, walking their dog, or just having a stroll with their family.

But you can still tell if they’re targeting your home. You just need to pay more attention to things like:

  • Is this person unnecessarily lingering around my house? (For example, tying his shoelaces for a suspiciously long time.)
  • Have I seen this person near my house before? (If yes, was it only in the last month? Because that could be another telltale sign. But if you’ve been seeing this person often over a longer period of time, they’re probably just a new neighbour.)
  • Is my gut sending me signals about this person? (Sometimes, you need to go with your gut. We, humans, are good at telling when someone’s watching us. Apply that sixth sense to this situation.)

Fake Emergencies or Offers

I already mentioned that the layout of your house is important to burglars. That’s why they need an elegant way of getting inside before they attack. Unfortunately, they often pretend to be a family in need, salespeople, or representatives of a reputable company.

Their goal is to sway you into letting them in. Having such unexpected visitors is the first telltale sign that someone’s targeting your home. Another one is that the person keeps looking around your home or even gives himself a tour.

Your Recent Visitor Left the Doors Open

If a visitor leaves your back door or windows open, they may be creating an entry point for their partner. Close the doors and windows immediately, lock the house, and have a friend come over if you’re alone. Make sure you can give an accurate description of the person who left your doors or windows open. The police will need this in case there’s an actual burglary later.

What could be running around in my ceiling?

Mice or rats are your likely culprit. With rodents, you’ll usually hear them around bedtime and late at night. … Mice are very quiet animals so you will rarely hear them. Because they hang out in your well-insulated attic or your insulated walls, they often go unnoticed until they start scratching or running.


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