Creating a home that is safe

Home Security

Creating a home that is safe and secure is essential.

Our home reflects who you are, offering a space to relax and unwind, a safe place to connect to the people and things you value most. Access is by invitation only. Until it isn’t.

Fact: every 90 seconds in Canada there is a residential break in.
And more than 80 percent of home break ins happen in broad daylight.

Creating a home that is comfortable is important. Creating a home that is safe and secure is essential.

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Most break ins are committed by amateur burglars, looking for access and opportunity. In fact, most burglars enter homes through easily approachable windows and doors. Simply locking your door before you and your family head out in the morning is a start but there are other important and practical steps you can take to deter would be robbers. Our Security team has is committed to helping you improve your home security and reduce your chances of a break in.

First of all, your home must look lived in at all times: whether you are away for a few hours at work, or a few days for a quick vacation. To ensure your home says “we’re home”, use the One Stop Security home checklist:

EVERYDAY SECURITY CHECKLIST:
- If you are heading out to work or run other errands, think about leaving your television or radio on. Ambient audio in a home is an obvious way to create the impression that you are home.
- Always lock your doors and windows when leaving during the day AND when you go to bed at night. It can be tempting, especially in the warm summer months, to leave a window open. Don’t. Burglary is a crime of opportunity, and any easy access is a green light for thieves.
- Close your blinds and curtains, especially at night, so no one can see in and create a visual inventory of your home. The light from a 60-inch television at night telegraphs to suspicious passersby your love of quality electronics and may get them wondering what other valuable items you have in your home. It’s a small thing to do, but closed curtains and blinds mean you are not shining light on your possessions once the sun goes down.
- Keep exterior and select interior lights on at night if you are out for a short period of time.
- If you are going away for longer periods, or your entire family is out of the house for most of the day, consider a timer to mimic your normal lighting patterns. Remember to adjust the timing as the seasons change.
- When leaving the house, make a habit of reviewing your checklist. Make sure all family members know what’s expected of them when leaving your home, even for short periods.

Many community newsletters feature local police reports that track neighbourhood break ins. Be aware of what is happening in your neighbourhood. Get to know your neighbours and talk about strategies to reduce break ins. Notice strangers and ask your neighbours to do the same. Get involved in your Neighbourhood Watch program. Crime prevention begins with awareness, especially at home.

Talk about the things you have of value in your home and create an inventory, including model numbers and serial numbers if applicable. Once a year, create a video inventory of your home. Video all items of value, and save and date your video. This is especially important for artwork or one of a kind pieces that may be hard to replace. It’s an interesting exercise, and you may be surprised how many items of value you own.

WHAT NOT TO DO:

While it can be tempting to let you neighbour or delivery person know you will be back in a few minutes, NEVER leave a note on your door stating you are not home. It takes seconds for a burglar to access your home and empty anything of value. Minutes matter.

Do not leave cash in plain sight. While it may sound obvious, many people leave out money for kids or the cleaning lady. Easy access to easy cash is a powerful incentive for would be thieves.

Do not leave doors or windows unlocked even if you are home. It is not uncommon for criminals to walk around a house, determine that the owner is out back and gain access through an unlocked front door. Purses, cash, easy to pocket valuables are fast pickings, even if you are upstairs with the kids, or out back working in the yard.

EXTERIOR SECURITY CHECKLIST:
If you’ve just purchased your new home, or you’ve been making your house a home for years, it’s essential you pay attention to the exterior, ensuring outdoor areas are as safe and secure as possible. A quarterly walk around your property is always a good idea. To deter potential burglars, consider the following:

- Always keep bushes well-trimmed, so they do not block windows or doors. Clean up and prune back to reduce any areas where access may be visually obstructed.

- Choose fencing that you can see through. It will allow neighbours to see into your yard when you are not at home, and potentially deter any unwanted visitors.

- Make sure there is no access to your roof, either by a ladder left in your yard, or by tree proximity including branches. Remove ladders and prune trees as required.

- Do you have basement windows in your home? Install hinged security bars for added protection. Hinged bars provide easy escape from the inside, so make sure the key is always in or near the inside lock.

- If you have glass windows or panels within 40 inches or 101.6 cm of a door lock, make sure it’s tempered glass. If not, replace existing glass with tempered glass.

- Install outdoor motion detector lights in the front and back of your home. Illuminating your home at night, including while you and your family are asleep, is an effective way to discourage trespassers.

- Pay special attention to all exterior doors. They should be metal not wood to provide the most protection and all exterior doors should have a deadbolt. Consider having a metal strike plate on the door jamb.

- If you have recently bought a home with a previous owner, consider changing all locks and deadbolts. If you have been in your current home for a while and provided extra keys over many years to family or friends, consider changing the locks.

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VACATION SECURITY CHECKLIST:
Well before you race out to the airport, or load the last bag into the car, take some time to think about home security while you are on holiday.

- Don’t advertise your trip. Whether that’s talking about your amazing upcoming vacation to everyone at the grocery store or sorting through snorkelling equipment on the front porch. Try and keep your upcoming adventure on the low down and encourage your kids to do the same. Remember Home Alone? The fewer people outside of your family and friends who know you will be away for two weeks, the better.

- If it’s summertime, make sure someone is taking care of your yard. Hire a lawn maintenance service or ask a friend. During the long winter, when warm vacations beckon, make sure your snow is shovelled. A home that looks lived in is less attractive to criminals.

- Cancel all deliveries whether its newspapers or packages. If you’re waiting on a parcel that has not arrived yet, ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye out for packages or flyers.

- Leave a radio on. While your first reaction may be It’s a waste of energy, it’s an inexpensive investment in your home’s security. Music or voices will give the impression that someone is home.

- Finally, lock the garage door! Put it on your checklist before you go and make it the last thing you check before you leave. Many people forget this simple step and are deeply disappointed upon their return.

IF YOU HAVE HAD A BREAK IN:
Safety is the number one priority. If you are in the house, leave immediately, call the police and wait until they arrive. If you have returned home to find a break in, do not enter and call the police. You cannot be sure the burglar has left the house, and confronting a thief is extremely dangerous. Never confront a burglar.

Do not disturb anything once you have called the police, as fingerprints and other evidence may be compromised.

You will have to fill out a Police Report, and list the items stolen and the approximate value. Once the report has been filed, contract your insurance company, who will send out an adjustor.


THE BEST CHOICE: A MONITORED ALARM SYSTEM

Simply put, Monitored alarm systems reduce the risk of a break in. Potential burglars are less likely to attempt to enter a home displaying security system signage.

With a Monitored Alarm System, burglars just don’t have the time to act. Within seconds of entering a home equipped with a Monitored Alarm System the police are on their way.

Equipping your home with a Monitored Alarm System may also reduce your insurance premium*.


*Check with your insurance provider