Keep your home safe

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

By Allan Britnell

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Lost and Found

In the event your perimeter defences are breached, there are ways to reduce your losses. To keep the amount of time thieves spend in a house to a minimum, professional crooks tend to target two rooms: the living room, where they’ll find CDs, DVDs and electronic items they can fence, and the bedroom, where they’re looking for jewelry and cash.

Think about it for a minute. Do you have an envelope of cash in a dresser drawer? Or a jewelry box full of valuable and irreplaceable heirlooms? Those are the first things a burglar is going to find. If you do keep valuables in the home, lock them in a safe, recommends McNeil: “We suggest that [the safe] be stored in the furnace room and be bolted to the floor. It’s not an area of the home the bad guy’s going to go to.”

Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll bolt down your DVD player or stereo. That’s why it’s important to write down the serial numbers of your appliances. Some police departments and Neighbourhood Watch groups have engravers that they‘ll lend out so homeowners can make additional identifying marks on their property. One of the problems police face is that even when they do recover stolen property, they have no way of identifying the rightful owner.

Another innovation may one day come your way. In conjunction with the local RCMP, the Neighbourhood Watch Association of St. Albert, Alta., has created a unique program in which homeowners can record the serial numbers of their property on a secure online database. If police recover stolen goods, they can cross-check serial numbers against the list and return them to the owners. Launched slightly more than a year ago, hundreds of residents have already signed up. The organization hopes to see the program roll out across the province and, eventually, nationwide.

In addition to recording identification numbers, you should also take photos of all the items in your house. These will help you recall what’s missing and identify items in the event that your property is recovered. Store these pictures in a safety deposit box or another off-site location as they can also help with insurance claims in the event of a fire.

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