Summer is upon us and it's time to get away. While you're busy packing your suitcases, remember: thieves don't take holidays. Don't let your home be an easy target for burglars.
First Line of Defence
Terry Whin-Yates, president and CEO of Mr. Locksmith and a third generation locksmith, speaks of the importance of installing a really good deadbolt on regular podcasts, blogs and videos on YouTube.
He says all too often customers come to them only after they have been burglarized. "Either they come to us after they or their neighbour has been robbed and they realize their locks are old or junky," says Whin-Yates. "To protect their homes, people should buy high-quality North American or European deadbolts.
He also suggests home owners reinforce their windows with 3M shatter-resistant film, which consists of tough, transparent, multiple, microthin polyester layers that work to hold shattered glass in place. Would-be thieves are put off from attempting access through a window that is difficult to break.
"You can buy it from 3M and it's my favourite," says Whin-Yates. "It's also earthquake-proof."
But a quarter of all break-ins don't even involve forced entry, according to Constable Brian Montague, media relations officer for the Vancouver Police Department.
"During the summer months, thieves are even more brazen, so home owners really have to be aware of how to keep their homes safe," says Montague,. "Many thefts occur when the home owner is home."
He has some recent examples:
- A home owner had left the front door unlocked while he was mowed his back lawn. His wife came home and surprised a stranger inside. Others in the Block Watch neighbourhood saw that something was wrong and jumped into action. They followed the intruder as he ran into another nearby home and called police.
- A thief entered through an unlocked bedroom window, rummaged through several rooms and stole a laptop. It wasn't until he triggered the alarm while exiting the house that the resident woke up.
- A thief entered the home through an unlocked garage door. Again, the residents were sleeping as this person walked through their home stealing valuables.
"Although there's no surefire way to keep your house burglar-proof, there are ways to safeguard your home," adds Montague (see below for home security tips).
In addition, if you know that your neighbour is away on holidays and you see suspicious activity around their home, report it immediately to the police by calling 911.
"We are more than happy to check it out," adds the veteran officer. "Don't be afraid to call us, even if it turns out to be nothing, we'd rather come out."
Much like his VPD colleague, RCMP spokesperson Rob Vermeulen says the more sets of eyes and ears out there the better.
He also says many home owners are quite creative in the ways they protect their homes for would-be thieves.
"To deter thieves, some people place a large set of shoes at the front door or a 'beware of dog' sign when they don't own a pet," says Vermeulen. "The more steps people can take to create the appearance their home is lived in while they're away, the better.
"We've also seen success in neighbourhoods where people watch out for each other and report suspicious people/activity promptly so we (police) can attend and determine what's going on."
Many detachments offer free security evaluations and offer home security tips on how to make your home or business more secure.
21 easy ways to keep thieves out this summer:
Don't Invite Thieves In
- Keep your doors locked when you're inside.
- Consider keeping your blinds and/or curtains closed at night so people can't see in.
- Don't put the packaging of expensive items like TVs or laptops out with the recycling.
- Put out decoy deterrents like a pair of big work boots, a Beware of Dog sign or a home security company sticker.
- Use window film to make your glass hard to break.
Secure the Perimeter
- When you're in the back yard, lock the front door and vice versa.
- Never hide keys outside. Burglars know where to find "secret" hiding places.
- Always lock up ladders and tools. Don't help a burglar break into your home.
- Prune your trees and shrubs so there's no place to hide.
- Install motion-activated spotlights around the perimeter of the house.
- Keep up appearances a well-tended neighbourhood is less attractive to criminals and vandals.
Have Eyes and Ears on the Street
- Get to know your neighbours.
- Be aware of strangers and look out for each other.
- Leave keys and emergency phone numbers with a trusted neighbour.
- Get involved in crime preventionjoin Block Watch, a program that brings concerned citizens and police together to reduce crime in neighbourhoods.
Don't Let On That You're Gone
- Don't share your vacation plans in social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
- Don't leave information about your absence on your phone message.
- Turn the ringer on your phone off or set your voicemail to pick up on the second ring.
- Have some indoor lights on timers.
- Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions.
- Make sure someone is picking up your mail and newspapers.
Home security tips courtesy of the Vancouver Police Department