By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
A friend of mine recently told me about a break- in at her home. The front door was smashed off the frame and all her jewellery was stolen. The loss of heirloom pieces that had belonged to her mother was devastating.
As a result, she installed an expensive burglar alarm system including cameras at both the front and the back of the house.
While Statistics Canada reports that alarm systems and motion detectors have led to a steady reduction in home break-ins in recent years, they may not deter a determined thief. They should be combined with other measures that help keep burglars from finding your home an attractive target.
Here are some things you can do at little or no cost:
1. Take your name off your mailbox: This will prevent thieves from calling 411 to get your phone number. Many thieves will call a house they are planning to rob first to see if you are home.
2. Never leave a note on the door: If you are going out and expect a delivery, resist the temptation to leave a note on the door asking the post office to leave the package with your neighbour.
3. Stop mail or newspapers: Before you go on vacation, stop mail and newspapers. Even if you leave town for a weekend, have a neighbour pick up these items plus unsolicited fliers.
4. Get a yappy dog: Dogs are not free, but if you have one that barks when people come to the door, pay attention. He may know something you do not. Even the most affectionate puppy like mine can scare away bad guys.
5. Prune trees or shrubs: If you have verdant greenery close to the house, tame it regularly so burglars do not have a place to hide.
6. Hide you spare key carefully: A key left under the door mat, on the ledge over the door or under a flower pot is an “open door” invitation to a dishonest person. Be more creative, or leave it with a neighbour.
7. Doors and windows: Always lock doors and windows and change the locks if you move into a new home or lose the key. Combination locks are becoming more popular because it is easier to change the code than replacing the whole lock. Put security bars on basement windows and secure sliding doors with a stick or a metal bar.
8. Don’t leave valuables in the open: If a thief can see valuables like art, electronics, jewellery or silver through a door or window, you could become a target. Consider a bolted down, fireproof safe.
9. Make the house look lived in: Have the grass cut and the driveway shovelled when you are away. Keep a car in the driveway. Use timers on lights, radios and TVs. Don’t put a message on your voice mail announcing your absence.
10. Put neighbours on alert: Let your neighbours know how long you will be away and if someone is coming to feed the cat. Make sure they have a way to contact you in case they see something strange happening around your home.
11. Don’t widely advertise your plans: Never mention you are going to be away to strangers or tweet your plans to all of your 10,000 followers.
12. Hire a house-sitter: Getting a friend to house-sit while you are away is a great way to keep your house safe from burglars. And if you have pets that need care, in-house care for them could be an added bonus.
Desperate, dishonest people are hard to deter. But they may also take the path of least resistance. With a little preparation, you may be able to prevent that path from leading to your front door.