We Canadians know we live in a relatively safe country; but that doesn’t mean we should let our guards down. Every three minutes, one Canadian home is robbed. In 2010, Canada had 578 burglaries for every 100,000 people. We all know what to do when we’ve been broken into – call 911. But what can you do to decrease your chance of getting broken into in the first place? Here are 10 tips to keep your home safe:
1. Lock it up
This one may seem obvious, but the RCMP says many Canadians do not lock all doors and windows before they leave the home. Police also advise locking your front door even if you’re just in your back yard. Thieves are known to ‘slip-in’ and take things quickly. Some estimates have burglars accessing the home through an open door or window 30% of the time.
2. Home Alarm Systems
When you leave the house, always make sure to set your home alarm if you have one.
Did you having a home security system may qualify you for a discount off your home insurance premiums? Depending on the type of system you get (or have), you can probably expect at least a 5% discount, if not more.
3. Go for the ‘lived-in’ look
Before you go away on holiday, arrange for someone to mow your lawn and/or park in your driveway. This will make it look like you’re still home and help deter robbers. The RCMP also recommend using timers on indoor lights or installing motion sensor lights outdoors. Most burglars target homes they suspect are unoccupied at the time.
4. Don’t advertise
Don’t broadcast details about upcoming trips away from home on social networks. Thieves are known to check out people’s Facebook and Twitter pages to determine when they’ll be out of the house. This behaviour is more common around Christmas, March Break and in the middle of the summer.
5. Put away the packaging
Don’t leave big box packaging, especially for high-price items like TVs, computers etc., in your driveway or carport. This sends a message to potential burglars that you have goods worth stealing.
6. Lock up your tools
Ladders, saws, axes, wire cutters and hammers can all be used to gain illegal access to your home. While it is common for homeowners to store many of these items in their yard or garden, it is dangerous. Thieves often use a resident’s own tools to break into their home.
7. Look out for one another
Consider joining or setting up a block watch/neighbourhood watch group in your area. This provides an extra incentive for your neighbours to report any suspicious activity around your residence. If you live in a building, work with your neighbours to make it as safe as possible; gain an understanding of who belongs in your building and who does not.
8. Get a (fake) dog
If you have a dog, make it known. Even if you don’t have a pooch, consider putting up a ‘beware of dog’ sign anyway. It’s said that burglars avoid houses with dogs.
9. Do some gardening
Keep hedges, trees and bushes well-trimmed, especially if they are near doors and windows. These plants provide cover, making it easier for burglars to access your home without a neighbour seeing. Trim any large tree branches close to your second floor. Thieves with a knack for climbing could use these to access your home.
10. Clearly display your house number
Make sure your house or unit number is clearly displayed outdoors in the day and night. The RCMP says this will guarantee emergency crews can find you quickly if you are being broken into.