It has been said that every 15 seconds, a burglar breaks into a home of victims who thought their home was pretty secure. They had locks, lights, neighbours, the occasional dog, alarm system and/or window bars.
So how does it continue to happen?
The depressing fact is, it's actually not that hard to get into most homes. The risk of being seen breaking in is more of a deterrent than a sub-par lock, and since most residential robberies happen in broad daylight, that risk is apparently not an overwhelming one. The problem is that most homes have weak points, and seasoned thieves are pretty good at finding them.
It doesn't really stop anyone from breaking in. It does, however, make your home a less favourable target if you use it the right way.
The alarm is only an after-the-fact security measure.
The thing about alarms is that the blaring happens after the fact. Somebody has already broken in!
In this way, an alarm is mostly about peace of mind; if something does happen, help will be on the way quickly
The lesson? Alarms are most effective when they're most obvious. Speaking of alarms, homeowners should activate them at all times, even when they're home. Most short-term insurance policies will not pay out in the event of a robbery if the alarm is not activated. Don’t add this disappointment to an already dreadful situation.
It is a fact that 90% of the homes that were robbed had alarm systems that weren't on.
HIDING YOUR KEY
When you hide your house key in an obvious place, you may be reducing your inconvenience in case you lock yourself out or need a friend to pick up the mail when you're gone, but you're increasing the chance that you'll find yourself in the much more inconvenient position of being robbed.
The safest place for a spare key is with a trustworthy neighbour or two.
When looking to make your house less of a target, one of the best fixtures is lighting, both outdoor and indoor. It's partly about minimising the appearance of vacancy inside the house (which burglars look for), and partly about shedding light on would-be intruders outside the house.
Get a timer and set the lights to go on at a certain time in the morning and off at a certain time at night. That way, it'll be harder to tell when you're gone, whether you're on a trip or just working late.
Outdoors, it's all about visibility. The area immediately outside your home is the first line of defence.
Placed at strategic points such as entries and pathways. Any hiding spots, like clusters of trees or freestanding structures, should also be well-lit.
Motion sensors on outdoor lights are an easy and inexpensive deterrent for any possible intruders on your property at night. Install motion-sensor lights on the rear and sides of your home and position them in out-of-reach places so they can't easily be turned off by a would-be thief.
If a thief makes it past your lighting without being deterred, you pretty much have one last shot to stop the break-in, and that’s at the point of entry.
DOORS & WINDOWS
Doors and locks aren't a place to go cheap.
- The door should be either solid wood or metal, so it holds.
- The strike plate should be the heavy-duty kind, secured with four, long (3-inch) screws.
- The lock should be a deadbolt or a knob-in-lock set with a dead latch.
Make sure to secure sliding glass doors and windows. This can be as simple as placing a length of wood in the track of your sliding doors or windows to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
- Always lock up all doors and windows, including second-floor windows, even if you're just going out for a few minutes.
- A chain lock allows you to talk to someone outside your door without opening it all the way.
- A peephole allows you to see who is at your door without having to open it and without them being able to look into your home.
- Keep expensive equipment and items away from your windows.
DETER, DETECT AND DELAY
LIFCO suggests that homeowners looking to burglar-proof their homes should take a three-fold approach: DETER, DETECT and DELAY.
Creating the impression that someone is always at home is a way to deter burglars. Leave your television or radio on, and install an automatic timer to some of the lights in your house to make it appear as if the house is occupied.
If you leave your curtains open, be careful what's in view.
Having a dog is also a deterrent. A dog also acts effectively as a detection device. Detection is one of the best ways to keep burglaries down. A dog's bark, not his bite, is scary A barking dog can alert an entire block that something is awry.
Shrubs: Make sure that your shrubs are trimmed to allow a good view of your home from the street. Burglars, after all, are looking for cover, and trimmed shrubs take that away. It also doesn't hurt to consider planting thorny shrubs beneath your windows to make it an even less attractive place to hide.
Placing alarm-company signs, neighbourhood-watch decals or dog notices on your property tells burglars to steer clear of your home. Having these signs as a deterrent is only good if you can back them up.
Delaying criminals is another important aspect of keeping burglars out. The longer it takes to get into your home, the more likely a burglar is to give up and move on. LIFCO suggests that a four-minute delay will protect your house in most cases.
- Treat any door to your garage like an external door, which means making sure it has a good dead bolt on it.
- Keep your car locked with the alarm on, even in your garage.
- Make sure garage lights can be turned on from inside the house so you never have to walk into a dark garage.
- Keep ladders, garbage cans, building supplies and tools locked up out of view so you don't provide an intruder with the means to break into your home.
- Never put your name on your mailbox. Anyone can call directory services and, get your number, and find out you aren't home.
- A solid privacy fence can provide a burglar with cover to break into your home. Consider an iron railing (topped with spikes, to discourage climbers)
- Consider an intercom system featuring motion-sensor video that turns on when someone approaches your house. If you live on your own, consider implementing a camera-bell so you can see who is approaching.
- Install cameras that operate off a motion sensor to keep from wasting valuable hard-drive space for your video files.
- If you travel a lot, surveillance cameras around your property, with viewing access through the Internet, will allow you to keep an eye on your home while you're gone.
- Video surveillance systems are a crook's kryptonite. So, make sure those alarm signs, stickers and placards you decorate your front and back yard with include the note that you have video surveillance equipment.
YOUR VALUABLES AND IDENTITY
- Having photos, videos and serial numbers of your valuables can be extremely helpful in identifying your stolen goods.
- Get your driver's license number engraved on any expensive electronic equipment. Doing so can not only assist in their return, but can actually dissuade theft: Marked property is difficult to sell or pawn.
- Shredding documents with personal information (such as bank and credit-card statements) will keep a burglar or someone looking through your trash from finding your information and assuming your identity.
- Leaving empty boxes from your new computer, DVD player or TV on the curb for trash pickup advertises that you have things worth stealing in your home.
- Be sure to lock your bikes and four-wheelers to a bolted-down surface.
GOING ON HOLIDAY
- Set lights on timers or light sensors to turn on and off in the evening. A TV or radio can also be set on a timer to add to the illusion that someone is at home.
- Suspend newspaper delivery so papers do not pile up in front of your house.
- If you have a separate mailbox, rather than a mail slot, put your mail on hold.
- Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house and pick up any mail, fliers, newspapers, packages, etc., left outside, and shovel your walkways if it snows.
- If you use a yard service, make sure they come to your house while you're away. An overgrown lawn is a good sign that no one is home.
- Leave a car in your driveway, or ask a neighbour to park there.
- Leave shades, curtains and blinds in their normal positions. Covered windows during the daytime indicate an empty house.
Getting to know your neighbours will help them to immediately alert you of any suspicious behaviour on your property. Notifying them when you're going away and how you can be contacted in case of emergency will allow you to be aware of a crisis as soon as it occurs.
Don't discuss vacation plans or expensive hobbies in public places. you never know who's listening!
Becoming involved with LIFCO will give you information you need to know about any suspicious activity in your area.
If you come home and something looks questionable (a slit screen, a broken window, an open door) don't go inside! Call your local security company (Or SRT Security! Even if you are not a client!)
If you have had a bad experience already with a crook, learn from it! Don't just think bad luck won't strike twice!
FIX YOUR DOORBELL
If your doorbell or buzzer is broken, how can you hear a thief posing as a solicitor at your door, especially when you are upstairs. Burglars ring doorbells to see if anyone is home.
If you don't answer because you don't know someone is at the door, you may run into an unwelcome visitor in your home who thought you weren't there.
An empty house is an inviting house to a crook.
YOUR KITCHEN IS A SANCTUARY
Always keep your safe in the kitchen because that's the absolute last place robbers go. That's because kitchens are typically in the middle of the house, and going into them takes too much time and there are too many places to look for valuables in there. A robber wants to be in and out quickly.
If the kitchen is the last place a thief will stop, what's the first? The master bedroom. That's the first place thieves go, because that's where the jewellery, smart phones and other electronics are kept.
THEY PICK TRASH
It might seem convenient, but taking your trash out the night before trash day gives the bad guy’s time to see what you bought last week.
One of the simplest ways to do home security is to think about how you would break into your own home if you forgot your keys (e.g. the unlocked window, the loose door handle, the hide-a-key etc.) Make a list, and fix everything on it.
Stay Safe and Vigilant!