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Home invasions and burglaries heat up in the summer: how to prevent break-ins

July 20, 2022
5 mins
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This article has been updated from a previous version.

There is much to love about the summertime: warm weather and longer days, barbecuing, swimming, camping, and taking an out of province road trip.  But there’s a downside for homeowners: home invasions and burglaries tend to increase throughout the summer.

Residential break-ins happen every 90 seconds in Canada, according to SGI Canada, and more than 80% of break-ins occur during daylight hours. According to Statistics Canada data from March to October 2020, property crime decreased by 13% (3,404 break-ins) from March to April, and peaked  in July (3,948 break-ins).

In Toronto specifically, data from the Toronto Police Service show a total of 5,768 break-and-enters in 2021, 48.8% of which happened to residential properties. This is down from 3,463 residential B&Es in 2020, marking a 25% YoY decrease.

The dip in residential break-and-enters in 2021 is a small source of comfort, or no comfort at all if you were one of the thousands of victims. Regardless of the numbers, homeowners would be wise to take preemptive action to safeguard their digs, and in doing so, may earn a discount on their home insurance premiums.

How to crime-proof your home

There are steps you can take inside and outside of your house to deter burglars. Here are a few suggestions:

Inside your home

  • Let’s start with the obvious: lock all exterior doors and windows whenever you leave home or are going to bed for the night.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed at night so a crook can’t scope out what belongings you have inside while you’re asleep.
  • Create a home inventory list of all your personal belongings and include photos and videos of your possessions. That way, if you are robbed and must file a home insurance claim, you can detail for your insurance provider what your possessions are and their approximate values. For expensive items like jewelry, lock them away in a place that isn’t obvious (example, in a safety lock box you keep the kitchen instead of the bedroom).
  • Have deadbolt locks on exterior doors, and upgrade or add to the locks on a sliding glass patio door, such as having a patio security bar installed on it.
  • Get a monitored home alarm system that’s approved by your insurance company and includes an interior motion detector and video camera. Doing so can also earn you a discount on your home insurance.
  • Change the passcodes on your home alarm and automated garage door opener periodically.
  • Don’t place computers and expensive electronics by a window where they’re visible from outside.
  • If you possess a firearm and ammunition, ensure those items are safely stored and out of sight as per the regulations in Canada’s Firearms Act.

Outside your home

  • Have a professional install a 24-hour monitored video surveillance system with cameras positioned around the entrances to your dwelling.
  • Get window bars installed over the exterior of basement windows.
  • Don’t leave spare keys hidden beneath the welcome mat or in your mailbox, and don’t place notes on the front door indicating no one is home.
  • Whether you have a dog or not, place a “beware of dog” sign on your front lawn.
  • Ensure the exterior lighting in the front and back of your dwelling is adequate and in working condition. You may want to include a light motion detector that turns the exterior lights on should anything move near an outside door in the middle of the night.
  • If you have a garage, ensure the garage door has a quality lock and that the door closes tightly.
  • Ensure all entrances to your home and garage are well-lit at night and that the number of your house is visible from the street, especially at night.
  • Don’t have a family nameplate outside your home. A thief could use that information to find your phone number and call to see if you’re around.
  • If you have a window air conditioner, ensure it is secured from the inside to make it extremely difficult to remove.
  • Keep shrubs trimmed so they are below window levels, and any tree limbs are cut above window levels.

How to protect your home while on vacation

If you’re going to be away from home for a day or longer, consider taking these precautions:

  • Don’t advertise on social media networks that you are on vacation or away from home.
  • Have a family member, trusted friend, or neighbour visit your property occasionally to check on it, collect your mail, and maintain your front lawn if you’re away for an extended period so it appears as though someone is home.
  • Ask a neighbour to park their vehicle in your driveway while you’re away.
  • Secure all tools, patio furniture, and the barbecue by locking them down or storing them in a locked shed or garage.
  • Disconnect your automated garage door opener if you have one.
  • Get and set electronic timers on interior and exterior lights to give the appearance your place isn’t vacant of people.

What to do if your home is burglarized

If you come home to find your place has been burglarized, don’t enter the house, and never confront a burglar if they’re still on the premises. Instead, call the police and wait for them to arrive.

After reporting the incident to the police, contact your home insurance provider and file a claim immediately.

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Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile marketer with experience as a staff and freelance writer for many business and technology publications and newspapers. He previously worked as the editor and media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA, handling home, auto, and travel insurance topics.

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