A residential break-and-enter
happens every three minutes in Canada. It takes only 90 seconds for a thief to
get in and out of your home, and most thefts don't happen under the cover of darkness
-- they take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. While it's almost impossible
to make your home burglar-proof, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk
and protect yourself and your valuables.
"People should be
taking precautions ahead of time because one of the worst things for a lot of
people is to have someone break into their house," says Const. Rob Black,
with the Crime Prevention Unit of the London Police Service. "It's not just
the theft of property because usually that can be replaced. They feel very violated."
good news is that according to Statistics Canada, break-and-enters are on the
wane. In 2005, almost 260,000 incidents were reported to police (more than half
were residences), representing a 7 percent decline from 2004 and a 40 percent
decline from 1995. But look at the police blotter of any local newspaper and you'll
see a number of families who believed, "it won't happen to me."
"We see far more often crimes of opportunity
by small-time thieves who are taking advantage of lax security. They're hitting
soft targets," says Const. Mike O'Reilly, community officer with the Ottawa
Exterior entrances are often the first places a burglar will
check for vulnerabilities such as thin pine doors, weak door frames, improperly
aligned strike plates, short hinge screws or flimsy locks. "One of the most
important deficiencies we see is the quality of lock on the door," says O'Reilly.
"A proper deadbolt lock is really the only way to go."
first line of defense is locking all doors and windows, but beyond that, here
are a few additional precautions you can take:
back shrubs and trees that can hide intruders.
- Equip the lower track
of sliding doors with a piece of wood or metal and secure the stationary pane
with a door pin.
- Secure basement windows with interior bars or block
- Affix double-hung or sliding windows with auxiliary locks or pins.
Ensure deadbolt locks measure at least one inch when fully extended; three-inch
screws should anchor the lock in the doorframe.
- Replace glass in or near
exterior doors with a shatter-resistant material.
- Keep tools and ladders
- Have adequate exterior lighting, including motion sensors.
Keep blinds drawn and valuables out of sight.
- Re-key or replace locks
in a new home.