Break and enters, car prowling, and stolen vehicles are most often crimes of opportunity. In an ideal world, forgetting to lock a door or to close a window is just that. In today’s reality, it’s common for thieves to take advantage of those forgetful moments, which can result in very real consequences for unwitting citizens. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to prevent yourself from being targeted.
Lock it up. Remember to lock all doors and windows, including all garage doors, whether you are home or not. It’s a good idea to remove garage door openers from your vehicles as criminals may target your vehicle in order to gain access to your residence.
Make it a habit for the whole family. Your children are never too young to start getting in the habit of locking things up and being on the lookout for suspicious activity. Develop a routine with them to make sure windows are closed when leaving the house, toys are brought inside or locked up, and the door is always locked. Teach your kids about what is considered suspicious activity in your neighborhood and what to do if they see it.
Consider these Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) tips
A lot of research has been done into more permanent and physical crime prevention strategies. Have a read at these best practices to see how secure your residence is:
Alarm systems. Installing an alarm system is one of the most popular methods to protect your property. Not all alarm systems are the same, so make sure you do your homework and buy something that fits your needs.
Doors. Make sure that any exterior doors and frames are made of solid wood or steel, as they are harder to force open than hollow-core doors. This includes the man door leading from your garage into your home.
Also make sure:
Garages. Many criminals target garages because they typically have valuables in them, such as power tools or bikes, and garages often lead into a residence. Always make sure your garage door opener is removed from vehicles parked outside your garage and that any doors leading to your residence remain locked with a deadbolt. Garage doors should meet the same standards listed here (doors). If you have an attached garage, the door should always swing inward toward your residence so the hinges aren’t accessible to thieves who may be in your garage.
It’s also a good idea to secure garage windows with bars or an acrylic sheeting such as Lucite or Plexiglas, that won’t be easily broken.
Windows. Secure windows that are not opened or used as a fire exit by screwing or nailing them permanently closed. You can also add security bar mechanisms to any windows, especially basement windows. For added security measures, you can apply a shatter resistant film that strengthens the glass area, should it be attacked, or even replace the glass with Plexiglas or Lucite.
Lighting. Install exterior security lighting around all entrances to your residence and around your garage. These can be a great deterrent to thieves, especially if they are turned on with motion sensors.
Clean up your yard. Make sure that you don’t provide thieves with resources to break into your home or information about what might be inside. Keep all ladders and other tools that could be used to break into your residence locked up. Also, make sure to close your curtains and avoid leaving boxes from new purchases outside your residence.
Know your neighbors and report suspicious activity. Finally, get to know your neighbors and be able to recognize suspicious activity in your community. If you see any suspicious people or activity, report it to police immediately by calling 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 in an emergency.
Let’s all do our part to prevent being a victim of property crime.
Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service.
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