Like most of us, professional burglars wake up bright and early every morning and head off to work. Later that afternoon, they take a lunch break. But that’s long after they’ve ransacked your house and pawned your valuables.

Far North Dallas neighbors got to hear all the secrets of a “career burglar” during a crime watch meeting Tuesday night at Dallas Bible Church, and these tips may interest other residents of the North Central Division like Preston Hollow. Organized by none other than crime watch expert, Ed Fox, and led by Sr. Cpl. D.J. Beaty, the PowerPoint presentation covered it all — the M.O., the point of entry, the tools, the prime times and even the role delivery drivers play in the perfect crime — all straight from one of the most experienced burglars who’s now serving a life sentence. He regularly targeted homes in Far North Dallas, Richardson and Plano and agreed to a video interview with Dallas Police.

“James” is a 40-year-old, grungy, white male who has spent one-third of this life in prison. He is responsible for more than 850 burglaries since age 21, averaging to about four burglaries a day, six days a week. Here is just some of what he revealed:

–       Two burglars who know what they’re doing can be in and out of a house within six minutes.

–       James worked only between the hours of 8 and 11 a.m., immediately paying a visit to his “fence”, a person who aids the burglar in selling/distributing the property. Your valuables most likely are sold and gone before you even get home from work to report it.

–       He almost always entered through the front or back door, using a pry bar tool designed to rip the trim off the door, collapse the sheet rock with little effort. According to North Central police, most burglars in our area gain access through open garage doors.

–       James owes a lot of his successful crimes to the UPS delivery guy. “They do it all for you,” he says in the interview. He simply followed the truck and waited for the driver to knock on doors, discover no one was home and leave the package at the doorstep along with a bright yellow sticker. “You’ll never look at the UPS guy the same again,” Beaty said.

P.E.N.A. West recently has experienced a slew of “cat burglaries” — when someone burglarizes your home at night while you’re asleep. Last month, eight such incidents were reported. Jesse Reyes, North Central Deputy Chief of Police, said a group of suspects have been identified and are being watched since there is little evidence to bring them in.

But neighbors can take James’ advice:

–       The No. 1 deterrent: install a reliable home alarm system or at least a sign in the front yard. The No. 2 deterrent: get a dog, preferably one that barks at strangers.

–       Keep all blinds and curtains closed, especially at night. If a burglar sees a flat screen on the wall inside the house, you can bet he’ll be back to get it.

–       And, perhaps the most important thing: know your neighbors. Burglars usually flee when they’ve been spotted by someone nearby who’ll likely call the police. Know your neighbors’ schedules, notice when a car is parked in the driveway that shouldn’t be there.

For those who want to get involved in the Volunteers in Patrol crime prevention program, the next training session is 1-6 p.m. Nov. 3-4. To get involved, email Ed Fox.