There is an undying myth among house owners about criminals scouting out houses and leaving mysterious chalk marks behind that only hold meaning for their brethren. There are countless stories of seniors letting marketing agents into their home, only to be robbed the next week. According to them, the thieves disguised themselves as agents, and then carved small signs into the trash bins to let others know that the place is worth the effort of looting. Yet we wonder: are there any grounds for this myth, or are the victims simply trying to desperately connect coincidental dots?
The ‘Da Pinci List’
In 2015, UK police department of Lanarkshire posted an image exposing a supposed housebreaker code, used by criminals to mark properties for their cohorts. The police division claimed that the code was based on recent signs discovered in East Kilbride. The list shows several iterations of each drawing, coupled with the translation. Some markings mean that the property is heavily protected or too risky, while others tell the keen eye that the house holds nothing of value worth stealing. An ‘X' generally means that the target is promising, which can be found not only on house walls or trash bins but also on car windshields. The crooks even have a drawing to signal the house was recently burglarized.
Are Criminal Codes Only a Myth?
Despite being shared by the police department, there are many skeptics who don’t believe in the existence of property ‘branding’. Interestingly, the British media seem to have a recurring revelation of the Da Pinci Code. In 2012, both the BBC and the Guardian made news about cracking the code, which incidentally featured the same signs as the Lanarkshire police post.
But this raises the question: if the secret is exposed, why didn’t they change it? It’s also a bit hard to believe that in our current day of age burglars risk being discovered just to chalk up a message for others. There must be a really strong camaraderie in the underworld if criminals are willing to pass on anonymous info for others, instead of raiding the homes themselves. Just think about it: teammates can simply phone each other to tell them their findings. And again, chalk drawings? In a rural countryside thugs may resort to such old-school tactics, but criminals capable of bypassing advanced home security solutions must have more sophisticated methods of sharing info, like forums hidden on the Dark Web.
How to Avoid Branding
Whether the story of criminal codes holds any water or not, one thing is sure: you need to flaunt an intimidating arsenal of alarms and cameras in order to deter burglars. Smart home security systems are must-haves nowadays. Outdoor cameras fitted with motion sensors and a floodlight can potentially surprise branders mid-action, even taking a snapshot of them. If the crooks fail to mark your house, do them a favor and remind them by placing a yard sign declaring that your house is guarded by a reliable security company. And don’t forget that guard dogs are especially effective. If you do sense suspicious activity in the neighborhood, inform the police about it.
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