Break-In Prevention

In Canada, a burglar enters someone’s home every 90 seconds. The majority of break-ins take place in broad daylight, and most burglaries could have been prevented with a comprehensive anti-burglary plan including an alarm system, basic preventive measures and community watch.

Most burglars are not experts. They take advantage of weaknesses in your home’s infrastructure, relying on force, concealment and speed to do their deed. When trying to safeguard your house from break-ins, think like a burglar. Do any doors or windows seem vulnerable? Are there good hiding places like shrubbery or dark corners in your yard? Conducting this safety checklist from Ontario Crime Prevention Services is a great first step to learning how to think like a criminal. Once you have familiarized yourself with the list, read below for an extensive guide to burglar-proofing your home.

Alarm Systems

A monitored home security system with prominently displayed signs and stickers (signs it front yard, stickers on each access door at the very least) is an immediate signal to a criminal that your home is not an easy target. The second advantage is that in an attempted burglary your alarm system will contact the monitoring centre, who will confirm if there is a need for police. There are many alarm monitoring options including by landline, cellular/GSM, and broadband signalling, so you no longer need a phone line.

Safeguard Your Entrances

Criminals look at doors first, so you should do the same. Each type of door requires different considerations.

Hollow-Core Doors

  • Doors filled with corrugated cardboard break easily and can be kicked in with moderate force. The added expense of solid-core doors is well worth it.

Stile and Rail Doors

  • Panel edges are the weak points of these doors. Reinforce with plywood.

Double Doors

  • Brace one side of the door. Though a brace renders one door inoperable, it eliminates inward give.
  • Install long slide bolts at the top and bottom of doors with glass panes.
  • Install a double cylinder deadbolt on the operational door.

Patio Doors

  • Mount screws or “jimmy-plates” at the top of tracks.
  • Install a “Charlie Bar” that folds horizontally, blocking the sliding doors.
  • Add auxiliary bolts to the top and bottom of door tracks. Some bolts are key-operated.
  • Place an old wooden broom handle or a metal rod to fill the runner when the door is not in use.
  • Prevent burglars from lifting the door off its track by drilling a hole in the top track and inserting a screw which extends to the runner.

Protecting Your Exterior

Fences are not enough to keep burglars at bay. In fact, they can conceal burglars who are trying to peek in. Make sure you can see beyond your yard and take these extra precautions.

  • Maintain shrubbery so that it does not block doors or windows.
  • Keep as much of your yard as possible well-lit at night.
  • Reinforce any glass that is within arm’s reach of locked doors. Coat the exterior with polycarbonate or acrylic or replace with tempered or illuminated glass.
  • Make sure outside door hinges have sturdy centre pins which are impossible to remove.
  • Install deadbolts on every outside door.
  • Reinforce basement windows with lockable hinged security bars. Store the key nearby in case of emergencies such as fires.
  • Cut back trees that can provide access to rooftops and second-story windows.

While Away From Home

Burglars usually survey neighborhoods before deciding on a victim, and seemingly unattended homes are the easiest targets. Take these precautions before going out of town for a few days.

  • Invest in lights that operate on a timer so different rooms are lit at different times, giving the appearance that your house is always occupied.
  • Hide tools that could assist burglars such as axes or shovels.
  • Leave your travel itinerary and a contact number with a trustworthy neighbor.
  • Ask someone to collect your mail and newspapers every day or halt those services until you return.
  • Arrange lawn care and snow shoveling services.
  • Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.
  • Use a video camera to inventory your valuables and contact your homeowner’s insurance agent to inquire about their policy on home checks.
  • If you return and suspect that your home has been burglarized, do not enter until you have contacted the police; entering could disturb evidence and lower your chances of retrieving your belongings.

Neighborhood Watch

The best method of burglar prevention is a neighborhood commitment to stopping crime. Clearly posted signs letting burglars know that they are being watched is an excellent deterrent. Consult with your local police department for help organizing and implementing a neighborhood watch program. Here are some tips for neighborhood watchers.

  • Know your neighbors, what kind of vehicles they drive and what their schedules are like.
  • Look for suspicious vehicles and write down their license plate numbers and descriptions of the occupants.
  • Call your local police to report unlawful activity. Never confront a suspected criminal on your own.

Engrave Your Valuables

Thieves are less likely to steal items bearing personalized stamps, and such items are more likely to be returned to their owners. Contact your local police department or RCMP detachment to have your valuables engraved and documented.

Don’t become a statistic. Investing time and money in burglar-proofing your home today will give you invaluable peace of mind.