SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Greene County deputies are investigating four break-ins that happened in just one month.Neighbors said it’s all part of a string of burglaries just east of Springfield, along Farm Road 166.

Family members of the homeowner whose house was hit the hardest asked KOLR 10 not to identify them, or their home.

The thieves have been knocking on doors to see whether anyone is inside, and hitting unoccupied dwellings.

So far, three arrests have been made in two of the separate cases, but all of the investigations remain ongoing.

KOLR 10 asked an expert, former law enforcement officer Matt Canovi, what homeowners need to know to defend their properties.

“The first burglar I interviewed, I asked him, ‘What’s the thing that scares you most? I thought he’d say a dog. He said, No, that someone is home.’ Why? ‘Because someone might be home and they might shoot me,'” Canovi said. “Bad guys are like water, they seek the path of least resistance”

Canovi said home protection, especially if that home is going to be unoccupied, starts with a plan.

“First thing you have to do is make it look like the house is not vacant,” Canovi said.

He said homeowners who leave their home vacant — either for a short or extended time, should arrange for landscaping maintenance as well as newspaper and mail pickup.

Another thing to keep in mind, Canovi said, is lighting.

“Get yourself some lights inside. They’re very low-cost now. You can get them in any hardware store with timers,” Canovi said.

Getting friendly with neighbors and even coordinating a neighborhood watch is a good idea.

“If you give them a heads up, they can call law enforcement right away,” Canovi said.

And what else do criminals hate to see?

“Bad guys hate the alarm systems,” Canovi said. “If you don’t, and your house gets broken into, you’re going to pay anyway.”

Canovi said anyone can be the victim of a break-in.

“Before you can not be a victim of a crime, you have to understand that you can be a victim of a crime. So you’ve got to make that emotional and mental adjustment that yes it can happen to me, then you will make a plan to prevent it from happening.

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