We live in a relatively safe country; but that doesn’t mean we should let our guards down. According to Statistics Canada's latest data, over 159,000 break-ins were reported to police in 2017. We all know what to do when we’ve been broken into—call the police. But what can you do to decrease your chance of getting broken into in the first place? Here are 10 tips to help keep your home safe:
1. Lock it up or risk losing it
This one may seem obvious but the fact is many people do not lock all doors and windows before they leave their home. Even if you're just in the backyard, lock your front door as thieves are known to slip in and take things quickly. Some estimates suggest burglars access the home through an open door or window 30 per cent of the time and need just 10 minutes to complete the job.
2. Home alarm systems
When you leave the house always make sure to set your home alarm if you have one, and if you don't have a home security system, it might be worth considering. A home alarm system not only offers added peace of mind knowing your house is secure but could help you save on your home insurance premiums too. Depending on the type of system you get (or have), you can probably expect to qualify for a 5 per cent discount, if not more.
3. Go for the ‘lived-in’ look
Before you go away on holiday, arrange for someone to mow your lawn, pick up your mail and park in your driveway. This will make it look like you’re still home and help deter robbers. It's also a smart idea to use timers on indoor lights and install motion sensors on outdoor lights.
4. Don’t advertise
Don’t broadcast details about upcoming trips on social networks. Thieves have been known to watch for online posts to determine when homeowners will be out of the house, especially around Christmas, March Break and during the summer months when people are more likely to go on holiday.
5. Put away the packaging
Don’t leave big box packaging, especially for high-priced 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, 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 unlocked garage or shed, it is dangerous. Don't give a thief the tools to break into your home.
7. Look out for one another
Consider joining, or setting up, a neighbourhood watch group in your area. This provides an extra incentive for your neighbours to report any suspicious activity around your residence.
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. Also, trim any large tree branches close to your second floor to discourage thieves with a knack for climbing.
10. Clearly display your house number
Make sure your house or unit number is clearly displayed outdoors in the day and night as this will guarantee emergency crews can find you quickly if your home is broken into.
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Article updated regularly to ensure accuracy.