What do people use to deter burglars?

An ex-burglar explains: This is how a break-in works

Mr. Wenning, how did your first break-in come about? What was the background?

As an innocent citizen, I did not commit any property crimes until I was 33 years old. But when I was 31 I became addicted to drugs and at that time I needed 100 DM a day. After two years the money was empty and I became a criminal, committed theft and shortly afterwards also break-ins.

What happened then?

From an empty bottle thief, I turned into a serial burglar in just a few weeks. I have committed 150 break-ins, been detained several times, and spent a total of 30 months in prison

There is the beautiful saying "Opportunity makes thieves", would you agree? Or were there specific preparations before a break-in?

Yes, of course, if someone leaves the patio door unlocked or the windows tilted, or even wide open in the heat, then that naturally attracts burglars. I never made any major preparations myself and always got on where I could get in easily and inconspicuously.

Did you practice breaking in beforehand?

No, you either have the guts and the criminal energy or you don't. But of course I was on speed, so doped with amphetamines, that takes away the fear and blinds the reality.

How did you gain access?

As a rule, I threw in the panes and glass doors with stones and manhole covers, as I often made lightning break-ins in companies, the volume does not play a major role. I rarely had burglary tools with me, because with this later evidence the police can quickly determine a break-in.

How much time did you plan for a break-in?

So for a lightning burglary a maximum of two minutes, since the alarm system was usually triggered. In a company or a private house without an alarm, sometimes five to ten minutes but rarely longer.

Was there a set schedule for what you would do once you were in the property?

I always looked for cash first. In the company, the cash register in the business premises or the main office. In private apartments or houses, I first checked the cloakroom, because the wallet is often in the jacket. The bedroom was then searched for money or jewelry. Then looked in the living room for money, cell phone or camera. I also often found canned cash in the kitchen.

What prey were you after?

Cash, jewelry, coins, postage stamps, maybe cell phones, cameras and cigarettes. Definitely not televisions, computers or laptops.

Do you have any tips on what to do with your valuables to protect them?

In any case, hide the valuables in the basement, in the anteroom, on the toilet or on the balcony, because perpetrators hardly spend so much time that they search these rooms consistently. Please keep large amounts of cash or valuable jewelry at the bank or in lockers.

Have you already worked with secret signs, the so-called crook tines?

So I guess the whole thing is total nonsense. Because I must have met a few dozen burglars in the drug scene or later in prison and no one could really tell me anything concrete about it.

What is the best way to deter burglars? Mechanical burglar protection, alarm system, video surveillance, dog or watchful neighbors?

There will never be 100 percent security. However, all of the suggestions you have made make sense. And several of these building blocks can already prevent a break-in. The burglar is always looking for the easiest way. Within a few minutes he often decides whether to get on or not. These preventive measures can definitely prevent a break-in.

How do you rate the live burglary protection and approaching perpetrators from a distance as a new means of evicting perpetrators? Would that stop you from stealing?

Live burglary protection is a very effective thing. The moment a burglar feels caught, he will flee in panic. Burglars are also afraid and 99 percent of them want to avoid any confrontation with the victim or the police. An alarm system that only makes noise does not necessarily ensure that the perpetrator disappears immediately. But if he is spoken to directly, he will be so surprised and shocked that he will flee in panic.

What made you stop breaking in?

After my last imprisonment, I did drug therapy and have been clean since then and haven't committed a break-in for exactly 20 years.

How are you today with that past?

Even today I often have a guilty conscience. Of course, you can never make something like that right, because victims often suffer for a lifetime. For nine years I have been giving prevention lectures in schools, social institutions and clinics with my books. I want to prevent young people from becoming addicted to drugs. Because every third break-in is drug-related crime. Half of my fee for my current book Burglary, which will be published in a few weeks, I would like to donate to the White Ring.

That's a nice idea, this donation goes to exactly those who need it.

Has your story influenced you in your everyday life today? Have you made your apartment burglar-proof?

So I lock doors and windows consistently. Since you can never get more than 100 euros in my one-room apartment, I don't have a special security system. In principle, however, I can advise everyone to invest everything possible in preventing burglary. Because not the material, but the psychological and emotional damage is the serious problem that often causes life to the victim!

Mr. Wenning, thank you very much for your insight and your openness.