Here’s how to make your home less attractive to burglars.
Start by thinking like a criminal. Take ten minutes and “case” your home – looking for opportunities for thieves, such as low basement windows without bars, open doors and windows, screen doors with flimsy locks, (during warm weather many homeowners open doors and windows to let breezes in), a spare key hidden under a doormat.
Precautions you can take when at home
1. Open windows: install locks which let you open windows 6” but then lock in place.
2. Open doors: install solid lockable screen doors or bars to allow air in and keep thieves out.
Precautions you can take when away
1. Create a ‘lived in’ look: if you are away, have lights and sprinklers on timers and have a friend or relative pick up mail and flyers, put out garbage cans, walk around your home, and make it clear that someone is around. Leave out dog dishes.
2. Noise: set a radio or TV on a timer to go on at different times of the day. If you have a dog, consider having someone drop by to care for it, rather than boarding it.
3. Hide clues of absence: stop your newspaper subscription, and don’t leave a message on your answering machine indicating that you’re away. Have a friend or trusted neighbour periodically park in your driveway. If you’ll be away for several weeks, have your lawn cut.
4. Keys: keep track of all keys you’ve made and who has them. Never hide keys anywhere around your front door. There is no ‘secret’ hiding place.
5. Alarm system: any alarm system, from a basic door alarm to one with remote monitoring – can be a good deterrent.
6. Visual deterrents: display “beware” signs indicating that you have a dog or an alarm. Often, the stickers are enough of a deterrent to make thieves look for an easier target.
7. Doors and locks: have minimum 1.5” deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Locks are only as good as the door and frame in which they are installed. Hollow-core wooden doors can easily be kicked in or forced open – solid core or metal doors are best. Auxiliary locks can prevent sliding glass doors from being lifted out of their tracks.
8. Protect your valuables: remove anything of extreme value from your home and store it somewhere safe.
9. Lights: take care installing motion sensor lights around the exterior of your home. There is new evidence to suggest this can be a give-away that you’re not home.