Protect your home from thieves


Keeping your home secure is probably an important concern for you, especially if you live in a big city. You should realize, though, that there's a lot more to securing your property than just using the services of a national brand security company.

This month’s issue of The Savvy Home Owner digs more deeply into this important topic. You'll learn what can attract thieves and the steps that you should take to prevent your home from being perceived as a prime target.


Signs that your home is being cased as a prime target:


Odd vehicles or people
Be on the alert for strange vehicles or pedestrians in close proximity to your home. Watch out for vehicles or people hanging about for no obvious reason. If you see anything that concerns you, call your local, non-emergency police number and have your suspicions checked out.

A random request to do repair or maintenance work
A request or offer to do work on your property could just be a ruse to check out the interior of your home. Thieves are true opportunists, and they’ll strike whenever and wherever they can.  They also want to get a sense of your personality. So, should a person come to your door with a work-related offer that seems just too good to be true or a slightly odd, yet plausible, request for assistance, be suspicious.

Subtle Changes
Pay close attention to your home’s surroundings and to your front and backyard. Any small change can indicate that your house is being cased. Sometimes, a thief will mark the house to see if anyone is home and will alter the mark to remind themselves to revisit that house. These marks can be as simple as a spray paint dot in the yard or on the house itself, a missing welcome mat, or even an item that’s repeatedly left outside your home. The marks are often indicative of a “house draft.” A house draft occurs when a burglar places an item in front of your house. If you remove the item, they know you’re home. If you don’t, burglars see that as a carpe diem sign that this is the time to seize the moment and your property!


Items Thieves Look For:


Obviously, burglars don’t want to spend much time in your house. This is why they make a list of go-to items. The following items are those that a thief usually looks for when they’re inside your home—and where they know they can find them!

Identity-Related Information
Remember that passport application you’ve been meaning to mail? You left it on the dining room table to remind yourself to buy a stamp. If a thief gets their hands on this kind of information, they can do a lot of damage.

Teenagers aren’t the only ones who raid liquor stashes—thieves often make a beeline to the liquor cabinet.  Be mindful of where you hide that favourite bottle of single-malt scotch, and perhaps leave out a decoy bottle that’s easy to find.  Simply rinse out an empty bottle of spirits, and refill it with a similar-looking liquid, such as cold tea (without milk, of course).

Home Goods and Decorations
Burglars like a fast steal. Those decorative plates above the mantle are headed out the door.

Thieves love cash. It’s impossible to reclaim, and a burglar gets to use it right away. You probably leave your cash in the most obvious of places—the sock drawer, a small safe, a side table, a bookcase, or even in the medicine cabinet. Speaking of which . . .

Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs are a great steal when it comes to usage and resale value. And they’re easy to find—most burglars head straight for the medicine cabinet.

Just like you, thieves place a high value on family heirlooms. Hide them in a better spot than the back of your underwear drawer. Invest in something more effective. A safety deposit box should do the trick.

Tech Devices and Electronics
Computers, smart devices, TVs, and other electronic items offer a premium trade-in or resale value, and they are frequently left out in the open.  Keep a record of serial numbers, receipts, and other purchase-related documents that could help you track these if they are stolen.

Criminals don’t like trying to access a gun safe or locked cabinet, but if they can, they will go the extra mile because of the resale value of the contents.  Hang on to any registration information you have that will help you track down your firearms if stolen.

If a thief can’t get into your house, they’ll try to get into the garage, which is likely full of tools that will bring a handsome return.


How to Prevent Burglary


Burglars are predictably unpredictable, but there are several ways you can help protect yourself. Below you’ll find some suggestions to assist you and your neighbours in preventing break-ins.

Start a Neighbourhood Watch System
A neighbourhood watch system is a surveillance arrangement you can put together with your neighbours to thwart crime. This civilian-based system is a great way to keep your community united and up-to-date on pertinent issues such as homelessness, new construction, and general resident safety. More eyes on the block mean fewer opportunities for crooks to steal from you and your neighbours.

Invest in a Security System and Cameras
Installing a home security system gives you peace of mind. Even if you cannot afford to maintain a subscription long-term, you can at least make it appear that your home is protected by a security company. Have a sign made, similar to those you see in front of homes that retain a security service.

It will cost you less than one month of service from a well-known security company to have your sign made.  Then install it at the front of your home, and the back too, if intruders have access from the rear.

This is a secret I learned from a senior executive with a security company. Most thieves will avoid homes that retain a security service. This simple trick will probably deter 90% of the bad guys from targeting your home.

Keep Quiet on Social Media
Vacation is exciting, but don’t flaunt your intended absence on social media—you never know who is watching.

Make Your House Look Lived In
Be sure to put a hold on your mail if you're going to be out of town. Put your indoor and outdoor lights on a timer, and ask your neighbors to park in your driveway once in a while. This will give your home a lived-in look and feel.

Get a Smart Lock
If you have kids, lose your keys frequently, or want to automate your home, install a smart lock or deadbolt. Some smart locks allow you to lock or unlock the door from your phone; this strategy is ideal if you are on-the-go or forgetful. But be sure your phone is secure from hacking, and cannot be opened if you lose the phone.

Don’t Open the Door to Just Anyone
Don’t feel you must always answer the door—especially if you don’t know the person. If you prefer to screen your visitors like you screen phone calls, check out our smart doorbells.

Rely on Man’s Best Friend
Regardless of how cute Rover might be, dogs are a formidable presence—thieves will avoid hanging around your house if they hear a dog bark. Even if you don't own a dog, buy a “Beware of Dog” sign. Hang it in your front window or put it in on the front lawn, or the door if you live in a condo.

Use Privacy Film
Line decorative windows with privacy film. This will prevent unwanted eyes from checking out your valuables (while still letting  natural light seep through).

Close Your Blinds
Late afternoon light is wonderful, but leaving your blinds raised makes it possible for passersby and potential thieves to see into your house.

Use Smart Bulbs and Motion Sensitive Lights
Burglars want to be invisible, and smart bulbs and motion sensitive lights can prevent that. Smart bulbs can be controlled from a home security smart hub.

Always Lock Your Doors and Windows
An unlocked door is an open invitation, so be sure to lock it when going out or coming in, and check all locks before going to bed. If you live on the ground floor be sure to close and lock windows when leaving the room.

Beware of Oversharing
Be aware of who you invite into your home and how much information you share with them. A friendly worker might have ulterior motives.

Get a New Hiding Spot
Burglars know the ole sock drawer hiding spot. Get creative and think about storing your valuables behind the garbage bags or the canning supplies cabinet. Or better yet, buy yourself a safe.

While there’s no perfectly fail-safe way to prevent a burglar from casing your house, remaining vigilant and aware and taking precautionary measures will help protect your home and family. So, whether you choose a dog, motion sensitive lights, or a professionally monitored home security service, make sure that you’ve made the effort to protect your home from thieves.