Securing Your Home

First of all, I wanted to say that I am very impressed with the citizens and businesses in the GVRD for coming to the aid of the Salvation Army after their devastating break-in last week.  After thieves made off with over $25,000 worth of toys, food and other items intended for the less fortunate over the Christmas season, there was an outpouring of anger from the community at large.  How could someone steal items meant for the segment of the population living below/near the poverty line?  How could someone be so callous as to leave all the freezers open, ruining all the food items left behind?

It was a crime so heartless that even the criminals are turning on one another.  Constable Tim Fanning, one of our media spokespersons, reported that almost half of the stolen items have been recovered thanks to a tip from a person who is ‘known to police’.  The rest is being made up from donations from citizens and from businesses – some of the donations are substantial financial gifts, all at a time when the money is needed most.  Well done!

Then, just as I was starting to feel good about the Salvation Army story, the next story was about the Surrey Food Bank, and how they have been the victims of a break-in, not once, but FIVE times in the past week. Hundred of dollars worth of food – gone.  Again, I am speechless.  Again, I am angry.  Again, I am at a complete loss to understand how you could steal food from a community group that would have given it to you for free if only you had asked. 

Break-ins do not just occur to charity organizations or businesses.  Almost everyone knows someone who has been the victim of a break in, and some of you are unfortunate to have experienced this yourselves. Home security is very important, and the goal is to make your home safe to live in. 

There are many things to be done in and around your home to increase security, so let’s go over a few basics:

  • Ensure the shrubbery around your home is trimmed so all doors and windows are visible.  This way, a thief is unable to hide behind a screen of bushes and gain access to a hidden entry.
  • Do not leave tools or ladders outside your home.  You would be surprised how many people have had their homes broken into when a thief used the homeowners personal ladder to climb up to an open window on an upper floor.  I’ve seen it. I’ve arrested thieves for doing exactly this.
  • When you are not home, close your blinds, turn a couple of lights on, and leave a radio or television on.  This gives your home the appearance of being occupied.
  • Do not hide a key outside your home.  This happens all the time, and thieves know where to look. Those fake rocks that you can buy in the hardware store with the key-size hidden compartment?  They’re no good.  You’re better off to leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Garages are a major target for break and enter thieves (see the Block Watch site, linked below, for tips on garage security)

A great resource for more tips on securing your home is the VPD Block Watch website.  Block Watch is a community group that focuses on ‘neighbors helping neighbors’, and they have a nearly exhaustive list on home security tips, covering everything from door construction to window and yard security.  The site is worth a look.  Maybe you already have a Block Watch program in your area, but if you do not, it might be a program suitable for you and your neighbors.

So, while you are out this holiday season, remember to lock your doors, secure your windows and leave a few lights on.  And even thought the lit Christmas Tree looks really pretty in the window, consider closing your blinds when you are not home.

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