Updated: Mar 13
Crime rates are continuing to increase, particularly in rural areas. COVID-19 has impacted jobs, prices of supplies and mental health and have pushed individuals and groups to step over the line of the law into theft and worse. This article lists some basic, but often overlooked home safety principles and tips to follow when you're not home, at night, or even when you are home - it's not a bad idea! Don't assume break-ins can't or won't happen to you, even in broad daylight, so always be diligent.
We are continuing to hear from different communities that thieves are getting creative and more bold than ever before. They are breaking into garages and homes to steal not just the typical valuable things like electronics and jewellery, but equipment, tools and building supplies as the price of these have gone up substantially. They are going so far as to drive up private driveways during the day to scope and plan out break-ins at night!
If someone does attempt a break-in, unfortunately the police are still minutes away. So prevention is always the best medicine. Thieves generally operate on the following principles: they want maximum benefit for minimal risk. They look for opportunity and will typically choose easy "soft" targets over difficult "hard" targets. So what can you do? Use the following principles in your own home to transform your home into a "hard target", or one that's not worth the effort to try to get into.
Maximize Risk & Effort
Maximize risk to offenders (increasing the likelihood of detection, challenge and apprehension)
Maximize the effort required to commit crime (increasing the time, energy and resources required to commit crime)
Minimize Benefits & Opportunities
Minimize the actual and perceived benefits of crime (removing, minimizing or concealing crime attractors and rewards)
Minimize excuse making opportunities (removing conditions that encourage/facilitate rationalization of inappropriate behaviour).
So what does this look like and how do we apply this for our home? Whether you're just out for 15 minutes to walk the dogs, or away for the weekend, follow the tips below and more all of the time. Think of other ideas that may work for your own home, using these principles as well.
Basic Home Safety Tips
Lock all main floor doors and windows.
Keep window coverings closed when not at home or when it's dark so they can't see inside.
Choose a good security system and use it!
Turn on a light near the front of the house that can be seen from the street.
Tell a trusted neighbor you won't be home so they can watch your property.
Use motion-activated outdoor lighting.
Lock all gates, sheds and garages.
Keep valuables covered and out of sight, and preferably locked up, especially things like building supplies which are in high demand.
Pay attention to unknown vehicles who may be scoping out your neighborhood for easy targets.
Install security cameras.
Get a (big loud) dog.
Look through the window before opening the door to anyone.
Join a neighborhood crime watch program.
Talk to your family and teach your kids how to do these things.
Don't think it can't happen to you. Be aware of your surroundings and consistently diligent, not complacent. The one time you forget to lock your shed or don't think you need to will probably be the time it gets broken into. So be diligent and always lock it, and regularly check the contents of your home, garage and shed as there's a possibility it may have been broken into without you knowing.
The key is consistent awareness and diligence.
If you do believe you were the victim of a theft, contact your local law enforcement office to report it right away. If you witness a theft in progress, do not intervene and put yourself at risk. Instead, put yourself in a safe location and call 911 immediately to give full descriptions of the intruders and their vehicles.