‘Tis the season for festive gatherings and family get-togethers. But the holidays can also be synonymous with burglary if you leave for a holiday get-away without first making sure your home is secure. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, here are a few preventative tips.
We all love to share our upcoming vacation plans, but if you do, proceed with caution. Only tell the people closest to you and whatever you do, don’t announce it on social media. Don’t even post your vacation plans to Facebook, lest the information fall into the wrong hands…
Along the same lines, your voice mail should not mention that you’re out of town, either.
Got a new computer, a tablet, the hottest new smartphone or a plasma TV for Christmas? Be discreet when you dispose of the packaging. Cut the boxes up in pieces and hide them at the bottom of your recycling bin. Otherwise it’s like you’re advertising all the nice new things you’ve got to any potential robbers.
“Having a central station security system is an excellent way of telling robbers to stay away or at least ensuring that they leave fast. If you have one, consider letting your service provider know that you’re going to be away, and provide them with contact information for someone you trust, who they can reach if there’s a problem,” recommends Caroline Phémius, Public Affairs Advisor at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Don’t forget to put the stickers provided by the alarm company on your doors and windows, advises the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). Most thieves would rather continue on their way than break into a house where they might set off an alarm.
An overflowing mailbox and junk mail accumulating at your door are good indicators for want-to-be burglars that no one is home. See if a friend or neighbour can pick up your mail, or ask Canada Post to suspend it. You can also temporarily cancel your newspaper subscriptions as needed.
“It’s very important to give the impression that the residence is inhabited. Ideally, a friend or neighbour would shovel the walkway, driveway and balcony, and move your car from time to time,” summarizes Caroline Phémius. For a prolonged absence, you can ask someone you trust to come to the house twice a week and, in addition to watering the plants, make sure everything is in order.
Install timers that will turn on the lights every day at regular times. If you live in a condo or apartment, noise from certain appliances (television, radio, sound system), can also be dissuasive and make it seem like someone is in the unit. Timers can help with this, too. On average, they cost between $15 and $40.
The exterior of your home can also play a role in whether a thief will pay you a visit. The SPVM therefore suggests that you make sure all exterior doors are well lit. Watch out for shrubs, trees and fences, where intruders can hide while waiting for the perfect moment to break into your home.
It’s a good idea to equip your exterior lights with timers or motion detectors. You can get a good exterior motion detector for $40 to $70. Make sure they’re properly calibrated though, so they don’t constantly go on every time a squirrel or the neighbour’s cat runs by.
For sliding doors and windows that give onto the outside, install a bar or safety plate to make sure they can’t be raised, removed or forced open. Skylights should also be equipped with an adequate locking device, as should sheds and garages. Finally, don’t leave anything out in your yard (ladder, tools, etc.) that could be used to break into your home.
Still not sure? Officers from your local station can help you identify the vulnerable points of your home, and the measures you can take to remedy them.
Preventing theft and vandalism, InfoInsurance:
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