Burglary. lt's a homeowner's nightmare. Discovering one's
home has been ransacked is a violation of privacy that
stays with us long after we recover from the actual crime.
In the past two decades, break and enter rates have risen
dramatically in many communities. We are all vulnerable,
but there are precautions we can take to discourage
burglars from hitting on our homes.
The first step is to become aware that break-ins can
happen anywhere, anytime. Don't wait until it happens to
you or to the next door neighbour; the time to
burglarproof your home is now if you haven't already done
Install an alarm system
Statistics show that homes with some form of alarm system
are 15 times less likely to be broken into. An added
advantage is that you can often get security-related
discounts on your home insurance premiums.
Before deciding to install an alarm system, however, you
should understand what these devices can and can't do.
Some are very simple; others practically turn your home
into a fortress. Most homeowners should aim for a system
that doesn't necessarily catch the burglar in the act, but
helps prevent major loss and damage - and is simple to
Think like a burglar
Before taking any further precautions, a homeowner needs
to understand the mind of a burglar. Burglars typically
fall into three categories.
The amateur is the most common. This individual is in his
or her late teens or twenties and burglarize most likely
to supplement a part-time income. The amateur avoids homes
with burglar alarms, likes to first stake out the homes
intended to be hit and will break in using almost any
tool, causing a lot of damage. He or she will break in day
or night, take money and anything small that can be
converted to cash, then flee on foot.
The semiprofessional is the second most common. This
individual is slightly older, usually drives a car and may
have a partner. He or she may actually park the car in the
driveway of the home targeted. Unlike the amateur, this
one is well-equipped, wears gloves, causes less damage and
may even pose as a delivery or repair person, but will
also generally avoid homes with alarm systems.
The professional is the most intelligent and the least
common. This individual almost always works in the
evening, communicates by cell phone or two-way radio with
a partner, monitors a police scanner and likes to hit very
expensive homes in affluent areas. Most of these homes
have alarm systems, but this individual is a pro at
disabling them. The professional usually concentrates on
lightweight objects of value such as money, jewelry, art
work and stamp and coin collections.
To protect your home against any of these burglar types,
ask yourself: what would keep me from breaking in? When
they pass by your home, burglars must be convinced that
not only is it well protected but that if they do get in,
they will be caught by the police or a vicious guard dog.
Take some simple precautions
Put some signs on windows and doors warning of a guard
dog, high voltage, alarm systems, no large amounts of cash
or valuables inside. These warnings don't have to be true.
The idea is to confuse the burglar and get him or her to
reconsider the risk.
Make your home look occupied at all times. Put lights, a
radio and the television on timers. If you are away,
arrange for someone to pick up your mail, clean the snow
or cut the lawn.
Trim any shrubs or bushes near windows and doors. These
may increase your privacy, but they also make ideal hiding
places for burglars. You can also use outdoor sensor
lights to illuminate the property and any possible hiding
Secure all exterior doors and windows. A burglar can kick
in a weak door. Locks should be good quality dead bolts.
All windows should have some form of anti-slide lock,
especially if they are located at ground level.
Do not leave any ladders outside and ensure that any
stored in the garage are inaccessible to burglars.
Remove any large, decorative signs with your family name
on them. These invite burglars to look up your telephone
number and see if you are home. A burglar with a telephone
directly and a cell phone can be standing right in front
of your home and calling to see if you are in!
Keep large amounts of cash and jewelry in a safety deposit
box at a bank. If you hide these in your home and think
that a burglar will never guess the spot - think again. A
professional burglar can outwit you.
Engrave all your valuables with some coding method. This
makes it harder for thieves to sell the goods and easier
for police to find them.