Keep your home safe

Preventing break-ins starts with making your home a less inviting target

By Allan Britnell

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Tech Support

If you live in the city, you probably don’t like alarm systems. The prevalence of false alarms has caused most of us to ignore (and curse) these disturbers of the peace.

An increasingly popular option is a monitored system. With these systems, when a sensor is tripped, the signal is sent to a control centre. If the correct pass code isn’t entered (or given, in the case of two-way voice systems), uniformed security guards are dispatched or the police are notified.

Many companies offer free system installation, provided that you sign up for multi-year service contracts, with monitoring fees typically ranging from $20 to $40 a month.

While a sticker saying you have an alarm (even if you don’t) may scare off mischievous kids, professional thieves will be undeterred because they know that, even with a monitored system, the odds of them being caught red-handed is unlikely. Inevitably, there are delays in the time it takes the company to verify the alarm is legitimate, contact police and have officers dispatched. And thanks to the number of false alarms, police generally treat the call as a non-emergency, meaning they won’t be speeding or running red lights to get there. “When the average [burglar] is in and out in less than five minutes, the chances of us getting there and catching them is pretty slim,” says McNeil.

That’s why programs such as Neighbourhood Watch (or simply having nosey neighbours) are so important. If someone calls the police to say they’ve seen a burglary in progress, the police will handle it as an emergency call and have a much faster response time. (Members of the Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch can also sign up for automated telephone recordings that notify them if thieves have been targeting a specific area so residents can be on heightened alert.)

The family dog can also help alert you or the neighbours to prowlers and is often enough to frighten them off, but even Fido isn’t foolproof: “People that do break-ins will often come with a piece of meat to throw to the dog,” says McNeil. You come home to a well-fed pet and an empty house.

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