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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Signs Your House Is Marked Or Has Been Forcibly Entered

by Taylor November 14, 2022

Maybe something has happened that’s caused you to become suspicious. You may be stuck in a thought loop that someone is casing your house right now, looking for an opportunity to break in and take your things. After all, burglaries are more common than most people think.

Maybe you’re worried they’ve already broken in, and you’re desperate to find the traces of forced entry. Maybe something important is missing, and you couldn’t have possibly misplaced it.

Whatever the case, a good burglar doesn’t leave signs that they’ve broken into a house. That said, many burglars are not good burglars. But criminals don’t need to be great at burglary as long as at least one home is vulnerable to your methods. So it’s not uncommon for thieves to leave some signs of their intentions and actions.

There are several signs that your house is marked. There are also signs of forced entry that you can look out for if you think something has happened. Rest assured, there are ways to determine if your paranoia is justified or not and actions to take if you conclude it is.

Here are signs that your house is marked and other effective ways to determine whether or not a burglar is interested in your home:

  1. Signs Your House Is Marked
  2. Signs Of Forced Entry
  3. What To Do Next

Signs Your House Is Marked

Here’s a list of signs thieves have marked your house. Remember that alone, they rarely actually mean anything. It’s all about identifying patterns.

  • Unfamiliar vehicles driving by frequently
  • Strangers looking at houses
  • Increases in door-to-door activity
  • Flyers outside your house
  • Strangers asking to come into your home
  • People taking pictures
  • Your dog gets out somehow
  • You have an empty gas tank
  • Your window breaks
  • An increase in landline calls
  • Your security system is damaged
  • You get new social media followers
  • You see a suspicious moving truck
  • There’s been a nearby robbery
  • Your gate is open
  • You find unfamiliar trash around your house
  • You see strange shoeprints in the snow
  • Your patio furniture moved
  • You’ve gotten egged
  • You see lights shining into your windows

These signs fit in a few broad categories.

1. Assessing Valuables

If people take pictures of your house or some strangers ask to come inside, these could be thieves assessing whether or not you have anything worth stealing. Vehicles driving by may be casing the neighborhood. These are common signs that your house is marked.

2. Assessing Schedules

There are many ways thieves check when you’re home. They may scan when your car is in the driveway, or they can knock on your door to see if you answer. They can put out flyers to see when they’re removed or move patio furniture to see when it’s moved back.

Sometimes they break windows and assess reaction, call the landline to see when it’s answered, check social media, and even egg homes to see when it’s cleaned up. These alone aren’t always signs that your house is marked, but you should still be wary.

3. Weakening Security

Burglars use different techniques to make your security worse. Most obviously, they’ll damage your security system. You may notice your gate has opened without you opening it. If you have a dog, they may let the dog out. They can empty your gas tank if they plan a quick getaway. They might even place trash around your house to give themselves a hiding spot.

4. Leaving A Trace

Sometimes a burglar is simply incompetent and leaves signs of their actions. Strange shoe prints or lights shining inside your house could be a thief. They also might bring a large moving truck to the robbery to fit more things inside. And finally, you could be robbed next if there’s been a nearby burglary.

As a side note, a common myth is that burglars leave signs and symbols in chalk and spray paint that they’re going to rob a house. This rumor is often the result of recently-burglarized people seeing construction workers’ marks outside their homes and assuming it’s related. Rest assured, these are not real signs that your house is marked – burglars just talk in private.

Signs Of Forced Entry

Breaking and entering tends to happen in one of three ways. This checklist is much smaller than the one for signs that your house is marked.

  • Your locks aren’t working like they’re supposed to
  • You see scratches on the lock that weren’t there before
  • Parts of your front door are broken
  • Parts of your window are broken
  • Things in your house are missing

There are three main ways people break into houses. Fortunately, the most common methods are also the most identifiable.

1. Brute Force

Brute force is the most common way people break into a house, and if someone brute-forced their way inside, you would know. Hinges will be loose, you’ll have broken windows, and your door may have even fallen over.

But if brute force is so easy to identify, why is it so common? The answer to this question is a little disheartening. It’s because it usually doesn’t matter whether or not you know that someone broke in, as they’ve often already gotten away with it. Once you notice your stuff is gone, you can probably guess what happened.

A less disheartening but equally accurate reason is that lock picking takes a lot of skill and practice. If a burglar doesn’t necessarily need to pick your locks, they’re not going through the process of learning how to do it.

2. Lock Bumping

Another method of entry is lock bumping. Bumping is a form of picking where the picker uses kinetic force to bump the pins in the lock upward. If done just right, they’ll be able to open the locked door without having to go through the process of picking each pin individually.

Bumping is tricky and takes a while to get right. Many bumped locks have signs that someone bumped them. The kinetic energy often damages the metal, potentially even breaking parts of the outside of the lock. If your door lock is not working, call a locksmith and determine if there’s been any damage.

3. Lock Picking

Criminal lock picking is an unusual way to break into a house, but there aren’t many signs that picking occurred. You may see scratch marks that weren’t there before. You should look carefully for any damage.

Although, once again, lock picking is not common. You shouldn’t worry yourself too much about people sneaking into your house without you knowing, as you’ll often be able to tell.

4. Account For Your Things

If someone’s broken in, they’ve probably taken something. Make sure you know where everything valuable is. If any of it is missing, think about who may have moved it and when.

What To Do Next

If you see signs that your house is marked or even already burglarized, it’s a perfect time to up your security.

There are many security measures to take against burglars, all of which are helpful after noticing signs that your house is marked. A dog for security and motion sensors, be they lights or alarms, are probably the best deterrents you can get.

You should set up a security system that’s visible to outsiders. Yes, these can be disabled, but most burglars won’t bother if there’s a house nearby without a security system.

If someone has already broken into your house, you should have the locks changed. You might even want to upgrade to higher security if you think someone picked your locks. Look into anti-kick strike plates and drill-proof cases to prevent forced entry.

Overall, layer your security and increase it in every way possible. Layering is a good idea even if you haven’t seen any signs that your house is marked or burglarized.


What are signs that your house is marked in the USA?

Burglars are subtle, so there’s no way to know for sure if a burglar has marked your house. Look out for suspicious vehicles, people, and activity around your home. Be wary of people who claim to represent someone else, like people going door to door or leaving flyers. These are all common signs that your house is marked.

How can you tell if your ring front door was tampered with by someone?

Ring devices come with a tamper detector that notifies you if someone tampered with your device.

What are signs your door has been tampered with by someone?

If someone wants to break in, they’ll likely just break down your door. But if you suspect subtle tampering, look for damage around the hinges and lock. Check for new scratch marks, as this could indicate picking.

What is forced entry?

Legally speaking, forced entry is when someone’s property gets taken by either actual force or threats of force. It also refers to unlawful entry onto property, usually accompanied by force.


To prevent burglary, you need constant vigilance. Burglars tend to leave subtle signs that they’re planning on or have executed a burglary. After a while, the signs that your house is marked or burglarized will start to add up.

Fortunately, you can take different security measures to help prevent becoming a victim of this crime. Hopefully, you now understand the patterns burglars tend to take, and you can recognize the typical signs that your house is marked or someone has broken in.

Category: Crime, Safety & Security

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