SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Law enforcement often taps into the minds of thieves, when they're arrested, to find out how they operate.
Springfield Officers who run neighborhood watch trainings posted information on social media from another agency with details on how and why thieves pick their targets.
Officer Laura Kitta is often asked for advice from people in the community.
"People do ask, what can I do to help deter people from coming to my house," she said.
She told of us some simple ways to protect our property by pointing out some areas that needed improvement at a house in the central part of town.
The landscaping was the first thing that caught her attention.
"No one can hide behind this tree and there's no low brush for anyone to crouch behind," she said.
Keeping the vegetation trimmed exposes any suspicious behavior.
Kitta turns her attention to the windows and doors.
"This wood is real easy to break for people. Something you want to think about, if someone pushes on this, this window's going to give. Same thing with the doors. The storm door's perfect. However, if you go inside, you can see, it's an older wooden door.
Though it does have a deadbolt, those locks usually don't come with the proper hardware.
"Three inch screws are going to be more reinforcement, less likely for someone to break in," explained Kitta.
She found more ways for thieves to break in as we traveled to the side of the house.
"Someone could stand behind here and you're not going to see them from the street because there's leaves here. All you have to do is kick the window, stand here, make sure no one watches and then you just go right in through the window," she said.
There are quick fixes for aging windows that are less expensive than replacing them.
Kitta said, "You can install bars on the tops of your windows to help just deter people. They see a bar or another lock or a glass break alarm, they're not going to want to break in."
Motion sensor lights are also important, if used correctly.
"The lights are pointing straight out. They're not covering the door or the back of the property. They're pointing one direction," explained Kitta.
She encourages neighbors to continue with watch programs as a means to educate and protect each other.
"Looking out for each other brings everybody together and it helps people feel like this is home. It's a safe place and you’re happy to be there," she said.
Springfield has a ton of information on other ways to protect yourself and how to get involved in a neighborhood watch program on their website.