Pre­ven­tion is the best way to pro­tect your home

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

Pre­ven­tion is the best course of ac­tion when it comes to pro­tect­ing your home, your prop­erty, your­self and your loved ones.

The On­tario Min­istry of Com­mu­nity Safety and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices of­fers a Home Se­cu­rity Au­dit Guide that pro­vides gen­eral in­for­ma­tion about keep­ing your home se­cure.

Is Your Home Likely to At­tract a Bur­glar?

An­swer these 10 sim­ple ques­tions to see if your home is vul­ner­a­ble. Is your home a tar­get? Are there clear views of all win­dows and doors (i.e. not ob­scured by high fences, bushes etc.?)

Do you make sure news­pa­pers and fly­ers are col­lected, the drive­way is shov­elled and the grass is cut when you are away?

Do you leave lights on timers, both in­side and out­side the home when you are away? Do all of your doors have a dead­bolt lock? Do the strike plates (the piece of metal on the door frame that ac­cepts the dead­bolt) on your ex­te­rior door locks have four screws se­cur­ing them to the frame?

Do all the win­dows with a sin­gle lock­ing de­vice have a sec­ond se­cu­rity fea­ture?

Do you store your valu­ables in a safety de­posit box or an iso­lated area of your home?

Are your valu­ables marked with your per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber?

Do you store your car keys in a lo­ca­tion that is out of sight within your house?

Know your neigh­bours

Do you know your neigh­bours across the street and on all three sides of you?

Is Your Home at Risk?

What is the most im­por­tant thing you can do to pro­tect your prop­erty against bur­glary?

If your an­swer was mak­ing your home less ap­peal­ing to a bur­glar, you’re on the right track!

To safe­guard your prop­erty, al­ways make sure it has a “lived-in” look. Crim­i­nals are less likely to tar­get a prop­erty where some­one is ob­vi­ously at home.

Our nat­u­ral in­stinct is to think about ways to keep the bur­glar out, such as up­grad­ing our locks or in­stalling an alarm sys­tem. But when as­sess­ing a home, most thieves don’t fo­cus on the type of lock or alarm sys­tem. In­stead, crim­i­nals look for op­por­tu­ni­ties that im­prove chances for suc­cess. In the case of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, bur­glars look for:

land­scap­ing and solid wood fences that help them hide from your neigh­bours, in­di­ca­tions that you aren’t home, such as un­col­lected fly­ers or news­pa­pers, un­shov­elled drive­ways, un­cut lawns, no car in the drive­way, ab­sence of out­door light­ing.

Even the de­sign of your house and its lo­ca­tion can have an in­flu­ence on the crim­i­nal’s de­ci­sion to bur­glar­ize your home. It’s im­por­tant that you take a fresh look your prop­erty – from a prospec­tive bur­glar’s view. Re­duce any op­por­tu­nity for his/her suc­cess by mak­ing any nec­es­sary changes. Make sure the prop­erty looks lived in, es­pe­cially when no one is home.

Re­mem­ber, your best de­fence is to present your prop­erty in such a way that it does not ap­peal to a crim­i­nal walk­ing the street. Bur­glars look for priva- cy -- homes that are con­cealed from neigh­bours or passersby. Over­grown land­scap­ing and high fences of­fer them the best op­por­tu­nity.

If a bur­glar tar­gets your prop­erty, your chances for loss could be greatly re­duced if you’ve taken pre­cau­tions to se­cure your home, but the first step is to re­duce your chances of be­com­ing a vic­tim in the first place.

Get­ting the Big Pic­ture

Re­duce your risk and safe­guard your prop­erty - think of what at­tracts a thief!

Look at the big pic­ture items such as land­scap­ing, fenc­ing, light­ing and prop­erty main­te­nance.


Pay close at­ten­tion to your land­scap­ing. Land­scap­ing has a greater po­ten­tial for at­tract­ing a thief onto your prop­erty than other se­cu­rity fac­tor. Trees and shrubs can ob­scure win­dows and doors and pro­vide cover for thieves.

Find out the ma­ture size of the tree or shrub be­fore you plant, then se­lect ac­cord­ingly. Large trees or ex­ces­sive shrubs pro­vide spots where adults can hide.

Avoid fast grow­ing species in favour of slower grow­ing ones that re­quire less ag­gres­sive main­te­nance.

Per­form an an­nual spring in­spec­tion of the land­scap­ing on your prop­erty. Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the amount of cover your prop­erty pro­vides rel­a­tive to your neigh­bours.

Trim/re­move ex­ces­sive land­scap­ing es­pe­cially around doors and win­dows.

Make sure more than one neigh­bour can see your house. When plant­ing trees/shrubs or putting up a fence, make sure your neigh­bours can see your prop­erty from dif­fer­ent an­gles. Reg­u­larly prune trees and shrubs. Don’t over-plant. Don’t dis­re­gard se­cu­rity in favour of pri­vacy.


When choos­ing fenc­ing ma­te­rial, re­mem­ber that the more pri­vate the area, the more ap­peal­ing it is to the crim­i­nal.

A closed six-foot high fence, while pro­vid­ing am­ple pri­vacy, may also pro­vide pri­vate space for a bur­glar.

Try and bal­ance the need for pri­vacy with the need for se­cu­rity by lim­it­ing the amount of “pri­vacy fenc­ing” only to ar­eas where you need it. “Pri­vacy fenc­ing” can also pre­vent you from get­ting to know your neigh­bours – not good if you’re go­ing to be look­ing out for each other!


Light­ing or the lack of light­ing can draw at­ten­tion to your res­i­dence. For max­i­mum safety and se­cu­rity, your home should have a lived-in look that is con­sis­tent from one day to the next. This is best achieved by us­ing timers to main­tain at least two vis­i­ble lights from the front of the house dur­ing dark hours when you would nor­mally be home and awake.

Mo­tion-ac­ti­vated lights

Bur­glars in­ter­viewed by po­lice rou­tinely com­ment on the pres­ence of mo­tion-ac­ti­vated lights. Mo­tion ac­ti­vated lights are ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing a dy­namic light­ing en­vi­ron­ment that’s ef­fec­tive against tres­passers and helps to alert home­own­ers.

The in­stal­la­tion of mo­tion-ac­ti­vated lights also sends a mes­sage that you are se­cu­rity con­scious.

Prop­erty Main­te­nance

We’ve all come across a house with fly­ers hang­ing out of the mail­box and news­pa­pers piled on the front porch. These, along with other ob­vi­ous signs such as un­shov­elled snow, un­cut lawns, porch lights left on or win­dow blinds that are drawn dur­ing the day are tell-tale signs that a home is empty. This makes a crim­i­nal’s job of se­lect­ing a tar­get es­pe­cially easy. Reg­u­lar main­te­nance is im­por­tant to dis­cour­age crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

For added com­fort and to de­ter mail fraud, use a locked mail­box and avoid a build-up of mail.

The Nuts & Bolts

Doors, frames and locks are the in­ter­re­lated ba­sics of home se­cu­rity and are of equal im­por­tance when se­cur­ing your home.

Re­mem­ber, pre­ven­tion is key. Keep the crim­i­nal out of your house and your prop­erty se­cure.

Door Se­cu­rity

Mak­ing out­side ac­cess doors se­cure is an im­por­tant step in pro­tect­ing your home. Good, solid doors im­prove your chances in keep­ing bur­glars out. When buy­ing a door, ask what the door is made of and how heavy it is. Look for doors with­out win­dows or doors that don’t have win­dows within arms reach of the in­side lock­set. If you al­ready have solid doors, con­sider in­stalling a peep­hole so you can look out to see who is at the door.

Slid­ing glass pa­tio doors that are not pro­tected can be lifted out of their tracks for an easy en­trance.

The fol­low­ing can pre­vent the door from be­ing lifted out of place:

A hockey stick or other piece of wood can be placed in the frame to pre­vent the door from slid­ing open.

A “pin” lock can be at­tached to the door that goes into the frame.

Screws can be fas­tened into the track above the slid­ing door (when in a closed po­si­tion.)

For Added Pro­tec­tion

For added pro­tec­tion, con­sider in­stalling a U-shaped es­cutcheon plate around the lock set at the door’s edge. This will help to pre­vent en­try from pro­longed kick­ing or ex­treme pres­sure.

For max­i­mum ef­fec­tive­ness, the plate should be se­cured from the in­side with 1.9 cm (3/4 inch) screws that can­not be re­moved from the out­side. This will likely re­quire re-drilling the screw holes found on the es­cutcheon plate.

Char­lie bars are de­signed to pre­vent lat­eral move­ment of pa­tio doors. They are in­stalled at a con­ve­nient height and cre­ate a vis­i­ble de­ter­rent to bur­glars. Char­lie bars are avail­able at most hard­ware and home im­prove­ment cen­tres and are an ex­cel­lent se­cu­rity op­tion.


A se­cure lock is an im­por­tant step in keep­ing a bur­glar out of your home. A dead­bolt lock should be placed on all out­side ac­cess doors in­clud­ing the door in from the garage. Here are a few im­por­tant fea­tures you should con­sider when choos­ing dead­bolt (check with your lo­cal hard­ware store or lock­smith for more in­for­ma­tion.) Locks should be: pick-re­sis­tant, drill-re­sis­tant, saw re­sis­tant, twist-re­sis­tant, with ta­pered hard­ened steel, or free spin­ning cylin­der guard, a min­i­mum of 2.5 cm (1 inch) long when thrown, in­ter-lock­ing bolts should be a min­i­mum of 5.6 cm (2 1/4 inches).

Dead­bolt locks that re­quire a key from both sides are not rec­om­mended – they don’t al­low for a quick exit in case of fire.


The door frame is a crit­i­cal yet of­ten over­looked com­po­nent of home se­cu­rity. Even the best locks are in­ef­fec­tive if the door frame is weak. To make sure that your frame pro­vides ad­e­quate se­cu­rity a se­cu­rity strike plate should be in­stalled with screws that are at least 2 1/2 inches long. (Note: Se­cu­rity strike plates can be distin­guished from con­ven­tional strike plates by the fact that they have four or more screw holes.)

A door frame, door and lock work to­gether to re­sist phys­i­cal at­tack. A prop­erly se­cured strike plate se­cures the frame and trans­mits the force of any at­tack to the door. With­out re­in­force­ment the door can be pried open by bend­ing the frame or the door can be kicked in. A bur­glar is not con­cerned about dam­age and will use as much force as is nec­es­sary to open a door quickly.


Some­times a space ex­ists be­tween the door jamb (the piece of wood that the strike plate is screwed into) and the wall stud that sup­ports the frame. For added pro­tec­tion, re­in­force your door frame with a filler plate so that your lock can­not be pried open.


Win­dows can be smashed, pried open and lifted off their tracks. Dead­bolt locks that can be reached from a win­dow can give a bur­glar ac­cess to a home. The fol­low­ing mea­sures are nec­es­sary to en­sure that you have ad­e­quate win­dow se­cu­rity.

Slid­ing Win­dows

Slider-style win­dows are those that slide side-to-side on a track. They can also be lifted up and out for in­stal­la­tion and rou­tine main­te­nance – a fea­ture that leaves them vul­ner­a­ble to break ins. To pre­vent win­dows from be­ing moved side-to-side: Cut a piece of wood the size of a broom han­dle or hockey stick to fit snugly be­tween the outer win­dow frame and the edge of the slid­ing por­tion of the win­dow, or add a sec­ond lock to the slid­ing por­tion of the win­dow. This type of lock can be found at hard­ware stores or in­stalled by a lock­smith/con­trac­tor.

To pre­vent the win­dow from be­ing lifted up and out:

Cut a piece of wood to fill the gap be­tween the top of the slider and the track above. The wood should be slightly smaller (about 1/8 inch) than the ac­tual gap and be as long as the slid­ing por­tion of the win­dow. Al­ter­na­tively, two or three screws can be in­serted into the por­tion of the up­per track above the win­dow that is used for ven­ti­la­tion (the win­dow be­hind the screen).

Dou­ble Hung Win­dows

Dou­ble hung win­dows slide up and down on a track. They can be forced open by ap­ply­ing pres­sure to the lock area. The se­cu­rity of these types of win­dows can be greatly im­proved by ad­ding a sec­ond lock and/or in­stalling a metal pin or nail through both sides of the win­dow. Specialized se­cu­rity pins de­signed specif­i­cally for this pur­pose can be found at hard­ware stores.

Case­ment/Awn­ing Style Win­dows

Case­ment and awn­ing-style win­dows are those that are opened by the op­er­a­tion of a roller-style (crank) han­dle. These win­dows are gen­er­ally quite se­cure when prop­erly locked with the fac­tory in­stalled locks. To im­prove the se­cu­rity, re­move the han­dle and store it out of sight.


Side­lights are those win­dows com­monly found next to doors. Any win­dow within 100 cm (40 inches) of a door han­dle should be re­in­forced.

For added pro­tec­tion con­sider strength­en­ing the glass.

Thieves of­ten break win­dows to get at locks. This is par­tic­u­larly true of base­ment win­dows and the glass in and around doors.


Bars are some­times used to se­cure win­dows and doors. If you choose bars as a se­cu­rity mea­sure, make sure that:

the bars are equipped with a quick re­lease mech­a­nism – con­sult your fire depart­ment for more in­for­ma­tion.

the screws used to in­stall the bars are not ac­ces­si­ble from the out­side.


To in­crease the strength of your win­dow glass, con­tact a pro­fes­sional to in­stall a se­cu­rity lam­i­nate film.


Poly­car­bon­ate (a rub­ber­ized, clear, un­break­able plas­tic) can also be used as a sub­sti­tute for bars, pro­vided that it is prop­erly in­stalled. Poly­car­bon­ate is avail­able at home ren­o­va­tion cen­tres and is listed un­der Plas­tics in the Yel­low Pages of your phone book.

Pro­tect Your Valu­ables

You can limit the over­all im­pact of a bur­glary tak­ing the fol­low­ing steps.

Don’t Ad­ver­tise Your New Pur­chases

If you’ve pur­chased big-ticket items, (e.g. TVs, stereos or com­puter equip­ment,) fold the card­board box in­side out be­fore putting it in the re­cy­cling bin. This keeps the iden­tity of your pur­chases pri­vate and doesn’t alert would-be bur­glars. Where Do You Keep Items of Sen­ti­men­tal Value? Make a list of the items in your home that are ir­re­place­able and keep them in a safe place. When not in use, these items should be stored in a place no one would sus­pect. For ex­am­ple, valu­ables should not be kept in a jew­ellery box – this is the first lo­ca­tion a bur­glar will look. A safety de­posit box or a per­ma­nent safe within your home could be used. If you have a safe in your home, it should be kept in an iso­lated lo­ca­tion – away from the main traf­fic ar­eas. If you have a garage, use it! Al­ways keep your garage locked.

Can You Iden­tify Your Prop­erty?

Each year, po­lice auc­tion thou­sands of un­marked prop­erty items that were ei­ther lost or stolen. En­grave your valu­ables with a per­son­al­ized iden­ti­fy­ing mark. These mark­ings should be in plain view and easy to spot. Items with iden­ti­fiers are less valu­able on the black mar­ket and bur­glars are less in­clined to take them. The po­lice use these unique mark­ings to iden­tify the owner of stolen prop­erty they re­trieve. To mark your valu­ables, cre­ate your own unique iden­ti­fier of at least eight char­ac­ters (e.g., a phone num­ber.)

If a theft does oc­cur and your prop­erty is lo­cated by the au­thor­i­ties, you will want to be able to iden­tify and claim what is yours. To sim­plify this process, you should:

Take an in­ven­tory of the items in your home, garage and tool shed.

Take pho­tos or video recordings to show what you own. Write down the se­rial num­bers. Keep re­ceipts for the more ex­pen­sive items. Keep this in­for­ma­tion and a record of your iden­ti­fy­ing num­ber in a safe lo­ca­tion sep­a­rate from the ac­tual prop­erty, prefer­ably in a fire re­sis­tant safe or a safety de­posit box. This in­for­ma­tion will be use­ful when mak­ing a claim to your in­sur­ance com­pany as well!

Items Most Fre­quently Stolen

Thieves pre­fer to take smaller items that can be eas­ily pock­eted. Favourite items taken by thieves in­clude jew­ellery, cash, cam­era equip­ment, DVD/CD play­ers, TV/VCR/DVD recorders.

Re­mem­ber: thieves pre­fer to take small items that can be eas­ily pock­eted!

Go­ing Away on Va­ca­tion?

Your home is most vul­ner­a­ble when you are away for an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

Most res­i­den­tial bur­glar­ies hap­pen dur­ing the day when you are not home.

Chain locks of­fer lit­tle pro­tec­tion against the threat of forced en­try and can re­sult in a false sense of se­cu­rity when a su­pe­rior lock is dis­en­gaged.

A peep­hole on your door is a bet­ter op­tion be­cause it lets you see who is out­side your door while pre­vent­ing that per­son from see­ing in­side your home.

Res­i­den­tial alarm sys­tems of­fer an in­creased level of se­cu­rity and some de­ter­rence to the crim­i­nal. How­ever, they should not be con­sid­ered as ex­clu­sive re­place­ments for other home se­cu­rity mea­sures but should be used in con­junc­tion with them.

Most alarms will alert the alarm com­pany through your phone line.

Be sure sec­ond-storey win­dows are closed and locked when you are not at home. Pa­tio fur­ni­ture has been used as a steplad­der to gain ac­cess to up­per lev­els of the home.

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