June 22, 2020

What You Need to Know About Home Security [From a Chatham Police Officer]

Our mission is to make our communities more safe, not only in the products and services that we provide, but in the information and resources that we share.  In this series, we speak with the top security experts in Chatham to get their best advice for local home and business owners.

We met with the Public Information Officer for the Chatham-Kent Police Service, Constable Renee Cowell. Thanks to her tips, this article includes:

  • Why we should reduce the opportunity for crime
  • How to think like a burglar
  • How to protect your neighbourhood 
  • 7 practical tips for Chatham home security

Don’t Give Criminals the Opportunity

To prevent crime we need to understand how crime happens. One way we can do that is using the Crime Triangle. As you can see from the diagram, at one corner is the offender, one corner the victim, and the last corner the opportunity. For a crime to occur, all three corners of the triangle must be present. 

The purpose of crime prevention is to remove one of the corners, so that the triangle is not complete. Constable Cowell emphasized the fact that homeowners can play a part in removing the opportunity for crime. How can you remove the opportunity? Make it more difficult for the offender! 

Criminals are lazy, they will always take the easy route when committing a crime. They won’t climb a ladder to get to a second story window when a basement window is easier. If a street has five homes and two of them have proof of security systems with signs and stickers, they will go after the other three homes. 

While crime trends change over time, there are common and consistent practices that help homeowners protect their families and property. One important practice is to identify potential opportunities and eliminate them by putting yourself in the shoes of a criminal.

Think Like a Burglar

Even though burglars are criminals, they are still human, meaning we can try to think like they think. Take 15 minutes (maybe have the kids help), and take a walk around your home. Think about how you would break in.

Look at places to hide; maybe behind landscaping and away from exterior lights.

Single out the easiest points of entry; maybe a back door or a basement window. 

List all the ways someone could get into your home with the least amount of visibility from your home and from the neighbours. 

Then, eliminate opportunity by making those points of entry harder for burglars to use. 

Cut back shrubbery, clear out branches from basement windows, get motion lights for dark parts of your yard.

(These were just some of the suggestions from Const. Cowell. Check out the other resources we have on how to think like a burglar)

Protect Your Community

Get to know your neighbours! 

Constable Cowell stressed that knowing your neighbours and their routines is the key to knowing when something, or someone, is off. But unfortunately, 1 in 5 millennials don’t participate in their community because they aren’t friends with anyone in their neighbourhood. For the purposes of home security, even just knowing the neighbours immediately to the right and left of your house can be beneficial.

Call it in! 

When canvassing the neighbourhood for information after a break-in, officers will hear testimonies from neighbours who “saw someone odd in the area”, and who will even be able to give a description of the person in question. However, most of the time, these neighbours don’t call the police. Often, they say they didn’t want to bother them, because it was probably nothing. Cowell’s biggest advice? 

“CALL IT IN! Seriously, you are not bothering us. This is often the difference between catching a perpetrator and comforting a theft victim. Just call it in.” 

Here in Chatham, Ontario, you can do so by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477). 

7 Extremely Practical Tips for Chatham Home Security

As a member of the Chatham-Kent Police Service, Const. Cowell has an expert opinion on how Chatham residents can lower their risk of a break-in. Here are her practical tips:

  1. Secure your patio doors. These are one of the most common points of entry for a break-in. 
  2. Put all your valuables in a good safe. Then, bolt that safe to the wall or floor so it can’t just be carried out. 
  3. Lock your windows. People often lock their doors when they leave the house but forget to lock the windows. Especially with warmer weather, don’t just close your windows, lock them too. Also, think about what outsiders can see when they walk by, maybe close curtains/blinds when you leave the house.
  4. Have gaming consoles, TVs, computers, and other electronics? Take 5 minutes and write down the serial numbers of all your devices. This way, if they get stolen they can be identified as yours and returned to you. Often, when stolen items are found, they are put up for auction instead of returned because they can’t be proven to belong to anyone specifically. 
  5. Tools are a commonly stolen item because they are valuable, easily fenced (sold), and easily carried in a backpack. The Chatham-Kent Police have an engraver you can rent to engrave all your tools with your initials. This way, they can be recovered and returned to you. To rent this engraver, contact their Crime Prevention Office at 519-342-4650.
  6. Lock your vehicles and keep your garage door opener out of sight. Offenders have been known to break the car window, open the garage door, and get into the house through the attached garage because people forget to lock that door. 
  7. Get a home security system. An alarm system is a real deterrent for would-be thieves. There are many reputable home security companies in the Chatham-Kent area, JM Security Canada is one of them. For some people, the idea of an alarm system has rarely crossed their mind. We’ve answered all the questions you might have about how a security system really works.

I learned so much from Constable Cowell and I am thankful for her years of faithful service to Chatham-Kent and her willingness to help Chatham residents protect themselves from break-ins. 

Let us know if we can help you with any of your home or business security needs.

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