Stop! Thief! Prevent break-and-enter crimes at home

Protect your yard - theft safety...

Theif with crowbar

Now that fall has arrived, many of us have packed up our garden equipment and stowed it away in our garages, backyards and sheds. But, with a recent rise of break-and-enter crime in Alberta, how can you be sure that everything will stay safe until spring?

Communities across Alberta have seen a rise in residential break-ins since 2015, according to Statistics Canada. In Calgary alone, police recorded 2,863 residential break-and-enter incidents between January and August, which makes 2019 a pretty typical year, overall. That's just slightly lower than average when compared with the same period over the previous five years. This type of crime includes trespassing or attempted trespassing on any private enclosed property. It often includes theft from backyards, garages and sheds since the theft isn't often noticed until hours after it has occurred.

Not only can the theft be inconvenient, but it can also be upsetting if something of sentimental value is taken. The good news is there are simple measures you can take to protect yourself. This week, let's take a closer look at how you can protect yourself from theft.

  • Lock the doors. Make sure you lock your windows and doors at all times. Your shed and garage should be locked even if you just leave the yard to go inside for a short period of time.
  • Refresh the password. If you use a password or numbered lock, make sure you change it from time to time. Your passcode should also be different for each item, so make sure you're using a different code for your garage, your house, etc.
  • Keep things hidden. Keep your valuable items out of sight. You want to make your property look like it isn't worth the risk or effort to break in, so keep your windows covered and valuables out of sight. This also includes small items such as spare change,
  • Add some light. Invest in outdoor security lighting for your home to discourage thieves from entering your garden. Ideally, these lights would be motion sensor lights that are installed at the front and the back of your house.
  • Trim your trees. Some basic gardening can make sure that there are no hiding spots for potential burglars.
  • Don't advertise your purchases. When you buy something new, especially high-priced items like TVs, computers etc., don't pile up all of the packagings in your driveway or garage while you are waiting for garbage day. Potential burglars could see those boxes and decide that you have goods worth stealing.
  • Lock up your tools. If you store tools, such as ladders, wire cutters and hammers, in your garage or shed, make sure they are locked up tight. All these tools can all be used to gain illegal access to your home. Don't give a thief the tools to break into your home.
  • Be vacation smart. Don’t announce your vacation or trips on social media. If you go away for an extended period, make it look like there are still people at home: use light timers, have someone pick up your mail and keep your walkways and driveway shovelled.
  • Check your insurance. If you do a quick inventory of all of the items in your yard, garage or shed, you might be surprised how much it is all worth. With this in mind, take out your home contents insurance to see what is - and what’s not - covered.

By keeping your wits about you and making sure you properly store and lock things up for the winter, you and your home should be safe from a potential break and enter.