Sneaky Vacant House Tricks That Spook Theives

So here’s a handy tip I ran across the other day — it’s from my personal Short Sale Sherpa (and also one of my best friends on the planet) Shaun McCloskey…

It’s simple, sneaky stuff to help keep your vacant houses break-in free while you’re trying to rent or sell ’em.  It may not work on true professional thieves…but the reality is, most break-ins are from drug addicts, dumb punks and complete idiots…all of which are typically looking for low hanging fruit…

  1. Watch the short 3min 20sec clip below…
  2. Then read my comment below…
  3. Then leave a comment of your own!…

So after watching Shaun’s tip, my question is this: Wouldn’t having a camera obviously visible (real or fake) just tempt a would-be thief to simply take the camera and whatever else it might be connected to?

I mean, I’ve never tested this theory…up to now, I’ve only used the “Smile, You’re on Candid Camera” sign tactic.  But that’s my thought anyway.

What do you think?  And if you have any thief-staving tips of your own, please do share in the comments below…

PS…An alternative to the above would be to hire this little Asian girl to protect your house…clearly she can take care of business. 🙂


JP Moses is a roughly-hewn man-child who first got into REI after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in Y2K and went full time in 2002. He's tinkered in everything from landlording to short sales to rehabs to Realtoring to REOs to notes to owner financing, blah, blah, blah...Till he finally stuck his flag deep into wholesaling and has since flipped somewhere north of a couple hundred deals.

JP's not a “guru” but also doesn't think it's a bad word. Among his core values are authenticity, creativity, big honkin' value, general fun-ness and being unshaven. He's super proud to be chief blogger guy at and host of the free REIology podcast. He also thoroughly enjoys sharing his 53 best real estate investing forms with anyone who wants them. You should totally check that out. 🙂

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John Hilroy Reply

thanks for sharing this, (I’m going to pass it along to my real estate buddy) Actually this would also be a great cover for people who are going on a vacation too.

glenda Reply

I agree with you JP, that a “pro” theif would already have seen the “dummy” cameras in Lowes, and he/or she would have a clue, maybe would work on a novice criminal, like a teen or someone. I think anything like these ideas couldn’t hurt, but my best security has always been my 2 dogs, I can leave my doors open, and I always come home to everything A okay. I realize, if you are a big time investor, you couldnt have dogs in all youre properties, but thats my 2 cents.

Tim Reply

I’m a rehabber and use a few other tricks.
I post security company signs (E-Bay) in the front yard;
I bought a small flashing LED (fake alarm) units from Radio Shack (around $5), mounted a flat plate on the front of an electrical outlet box with a hole drilled in the plate and the LED glued on the back side, placed the LED unit inside the eletrical box, painted the electrical box black and sit them in the windows;
I bought a cheap car alarm on E-Bay, installed a on/off switch, placed it by one of the doors, waited till the school buses brought the kids home, turned the alarm on for about 15 seconds, turn it off, go outside, act like I’ve armed it, go back in & quickly turn it on, go back outside with it blaring, then turn it off, repeating it at all the outside doors and even a window or two. When I go back out, I act as if I’m arming it and quickly hit the on-off switch a couple of times to let it ‘chirp’ . Typically I repeat this around 5:30 / 6:00 PM when most of the neighbors are getting home from work. If I see someone that I am concerned about and they are close by, I may even act as if I’m calling the security company on my cell phone from the front yard and speak loudly telling them I’m running a test on the system.
I’ve even had a neighbor or two ask me where I got the system because they want a security system. I just tell them it is a system that I designed, give no more details, and tell them that Radio Shack has some good DIY security systems.
Once the house has been rehabbed on the outside and looks like it might be occupied, I set up a few plug in timers with lights, an old tv, and a radio in different rooms.

Ace Kogut Reply

You are right. I just bought a vacant house and plan on doing the same things. I might also use motion beep alarms.

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