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Authorities warn homeowners of breaker box burglars

Published: Aug. 5, 2015 at 1:36 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's a trend taking place throughout the nation.

Breaker box burglars are turning off power to homes, then waiting to see if homeowners come out to turn it back on.

If no one turns the power on, it could mean the homeowner may not be present, giving them the green light to break into a home.

In Arizona, most breaker boxes are located outside the home, where anyone could have easy access.

Most people who are home come outside to turn the power back on, such as David Lasansky, who was watching TV at home when his lights went out.

"All of a sudden the lights just cut off," he said, "all the electricity in the house just goes out, and I'm like 'this is odd.'"

Lasansky said he walked outside and his breaker box was open, but no one was around.

"I guess they heard me open the door and just ran out of the place," he said.

Other homeowners are not taking a chance, such as Hanz Villegas, who spent a big chunk of change to keep thieves and vandals away from his main switch.

"I actually hired an electrician to come in and move it here," he said, "and they charged me $7,000."

Hefty price for peace of mind, but he said he is glad he did not have to suffer what one midtown couple did.

Kristine and Brian Thomas had their home burglarized twice.

"You always want to think that your home is a safe place, but in reality anything can happen anywhere," Kristine said, "you always have to have an eye on it."

"It doesn't matter where you live," Brian said. "If somebody wants to get in there, they're going to get in somehow."

Authorities said homeowners should make a list of valuable items in their home, including writing down serial numbers and taking photos of jewelry.

This can help detectives if they do recover the stolen property.

To protect their breaker boxes, authorities said a simple lock on the box is all that's needed.

Here are some other ways to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a burglary.  According to Detective Kevin Coffey:

  • Most criminals are looking for an easy hit.  Most of them are opportunists who got lucky with an open window or unlocked door.
  • Most burglars will spend no more than a minute trying to break in, and about five minutes inside.
  • The point of entry is usually made at the rear or by a side door, the second most common access is via the garage door.
  • Most burglaries occur during the daytime hours when homes are empty, but it's important to have good lighting around your home, as some do target homes at night.  Make sure the lights can catch someone trying to enter from the sides.
  • Make sure all the shrubs and trees are trimmed back so they do not allow a burglar to hide while trying to open a door or window.  Plant bushes with prickly thorns around those locations.
  • Secure the windows. Do not leave them open or unlocked when you're not home.

For more tips on burglar proofing your home, visit: www.nightwatchprotection.com.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.