[Updated Dec. 6, 2016]
It seems as if Canadians are pretty complacent with their current home security measures, or maybe we’re just home to master thieves. According to Statistics Canada, a break-in is reported once every three minutes, making break-ins one of the highest reported crimes in Canada. Whether you’re gone for the weekend or for the entire Christmas break, you want to leave your home knowing your belongings are safe.
So what’s your plan for ensuring your home is protected while you’re on your way to Cancun for the week or to the ski resort for the weekend? Here are some ways to divert unwanted attention and protect your home from theft while on vacation.
Up Your Security Ante
According to a TD insurance survey from 2013, one in five homeowners think an alarm system is sufficient to protect their house from burglars. Think again – although alarms are a good first line of defence, there are other ways to bolster security (and keep your insurance premiums from increasing due to a theft claim while you’re at it).
- Make sure your doors and windows are locked. One forgotten lock can be an open invitation for burglars. If a door or window has more than one lock, ensure all of them are latched.
- “Beware of dog” signs and alarm system signs can help stop thieves in their tracks, even if you have neither. Motion sensor lights work as well.
- Remove spare keys completely or out of obvious places (yup – those fake stones areobvious) as thieves will likely search the porch and the surrounding area for a spare key if they figure out you’re away.
- Place metals bars on low-lying windows and block in sliding doors with a stick or metal bar.
- Tuck away valuables in a safe or deposit box. Remove computers and electronics out of view from windows.
- Remove any tools laying around in the yard and lock them away in the house, garage or shed. Thieves can use your ladders, saws, and hammers to gain access to your home.
Make Your Home Look Normal
If your mailbox is overflowing with mail, the grass on the lawn is growing tall, and the driveway is empty for weeks – it doesn’t take a master thief to figure out that no one is home. Consider some of these tricks to make your house look occupied.
- Put your magazine subscriptions on hold while you’re away or have a neighbor collect your mail.
- Use a light and/or stereo on a timer to make it look and sound like someone’s home throughout the day. Try to switch up the times to make it look more natural.
- Do not display your family name on the outside of your house. A thief could look up your number and call to see if you’re home.
- Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway, leave a bag of their garbage out front of your house on collection day, and cut your grass or shovel your driveway every once in a while if you’re going to be gone for a long period of time.
- Do not change your phone message or leave a note that you’re away.
- Don’t close all your curtains and blinds. Keeping all of them closed may prevent passers-by from looking inside, but leaving some open looks more normal.
And Don’t Show Off Online
In the age of social media, it’s become a norm to keep the world updated with our every move. However, posting a picture of you on the beach in Jamaica is a clear indication to burglars that you’re not home.
- Keep the news of your vacation between close family and friends.
- If posting while you’re away, remember to disable your geolocation settings and change your privacy settings to limit who sees your posts.
- Consider even posting your photos upon returning home instead of throughout the trip.
Insurance Break-In Woes
Nearly one third of homeowners think that if their home is robbed, their insurer will reimburse them for the stolen goods at today’s prices. Truth is, basic home insurance policies generally only cover actual cash value, taking depreciation over time into account.
Give your policy a good look-see to make sure you’re covered while you’re away, and ensure your contents, tenant or home insurance is up to par.