Lindsay Wilcox, NBC 5 News
A reformed burglar talks about how he picked his victims and tells homeowners what can deter burglars from their home.
If burglars want in your home, there's not much that will stop them, a former professional burglar says.
Kenneth Fields made a living as a burglar for years, breaking into an estimated 100 homes. But his criminal career came to an abrupt end when he was arrested on drug charges in 1984.
He said experienced burglars work the days closest to the weekend, when people are sloppy with their security.
"People don't like to get up on Mondays, and they're trying to get home on Fridays," he said.
Fields said burglars are always looking for their next victims, and they can spot them anywhere, such as coming out of a store with money in their hand.
"You can't do that no more, because I'm going to get in my car and follow you," he said.
Once at the house, he would look for things such as nice flower pots, decorative wreaths and expensive children's toys -- all clues that valuable stuff is inside. Then he would try to get a better look.
"I might come and ask you, 'Do you need your lawn mowed?'" Fields said.
He said he would scope out the house while mowing the lawn. Often, homeowners would open the door to offer him a drink -- providing a peak inside. Sometimes, they would even invite him in.
Fields said alarm systems never stopped him because he could get in and out before police arrived. But security cameras would make him think twice, he said.
"If I walk up, and I see a camera, I know a tape [is] rolling inside that house somewhere," he said.
David Torres, owner of Secure Cam Inc., said homeowners should couple security cameras with a digital door lock. Together, the combination sends a powerful signal to would-be burglars that the homeowner has gone an extra step to secure the location, he said.
Fields said burglars tend to stay away from communities where neighbors know each other because they can quickly spot outsiders.
And nothing beats a good watchdog.
"Animals are very helpful in criming, because if you got a pit bull or a Rottweiler, I'm not coming in there because I don't know how trained you got this dog," Fields said.
Fields has been out of prison for two years. He said he found religion and is working hard to stay out of trouble. He is on parole until 2024 and said he is sharing the secrets of his criminal history to make amends for some of the harm he caused.
"I don't mind sharing this with nobody, because it could be me getting burglarized," he said.