Our homes are very important to us, and there are many steps you can take to ensure your home is safer and more secure.
The best way to deal with problems is to stop them before they start. Neighbourhood safety is a shared responsibility, in which both residents and police have important roles.
- get to know your neighbours
- be aware of strangers and look out for each other
- leave keys and emergency phone numbers with a trusted neighbour
- keep up appearances – a well-tended neighbourhood is less attractive to criminals and vandals
- join Block Watch
Suspicious Activity? Call 911
We want you to call us if something suspicious is happening. Call 911 as it’s happening or 604-717-3321 if there is a time delay of more than 15 minutes.
Installing an electronic home security system is an effective way to protect your home. If you choose an unmonitored alarm, let your neighbours know to call police if they hear it go off. If your alarm is monitored, your alarm company will contact police.
Some things to consider when choosing an alarm:
- Choose an alarm that does not use telephone wires to send its signal to the alarm company to prevent thieves from disabling your alarm by cutting the phone wires.
- Ask for recommendations from friends that have alarm systems or from your insurance agent
- Check your alarm company’s standing with the Canadian Alarm and Security Association, or the Better Business Bureau
Your alarm won’t protect you if you don’t turn it on, and is only one step toward preventing break-ins.
Did you know that in approximately half of all residential break-ins, thieves simply entered through unlocked doors or windows?
- Ensure your address is clearly visible to emergency responders at all times. If you have a laneway, post your address at the rear of your house, as well.
- Trim your trees and bushes that could hide thieves. Trees growing near your house could also help a thief enter through an unlocked upper story window.
Outside doors and frames should be made of solid wood or steel, and frames should fit snugly against the door. Glass around an outside door should be unbreakable or at least 40 inches from the lock. To keep the door from being lifted off its track, install screws or a plate that extends down from the top track.
- For added security you can also consider a floor mounted door stop, which is more effective than a door chain.
- Garage doors can be secured using a lock on the inside of the door.
- Hinges should be attached securely by screws that go through the door frame into the supporting stud, and are not exposed on the outside. Replace outside hinges with non-removable hinges that are available commercially.
- To see visitors, use a wide-angle viewer instead of a chain lock, as you don’t need to open the door.
- Change your locks if you lose your keys or when you move into a new home.
Garages are a favourite target because they often store power tools and bicycles.
- Secure garage windows with bars or plexiglass.
- Doors from the outside or your house should swing inward, be solid core, and have deadbolt locks.
- Keep your garage locked, even when you are at home.
- Install lights near your garage to keep the area lit.
- Be sure the overhead door closes completely after you drive in or out of your garage.
Windows are generally a weak link when it comes to residential security. They can be pried open or broken, lifted from their tracks and the panes removed. There are numerous ways to increase the security to windows:
- Any window not used as a fire exit can be secured by nailing or screwing it permanently closed or adding security bars.
- Vertical sliding (double hung) or horizontally sliding windows can be secured with a nail, metal pin or specially designed lock.
- Windows with keyless latches, such as casement and awning windows, can be secured by simply replacing the keyless latch with a keyed latch or keyed slide bolt. An alternative to fixing a keyless latch is to simply drill a hole through the latch and inserting a removable pin.
- Sash-less or semi-sashed windows can be closed and blocked with a piece of wood fit snugly into the bottom track to prevent sliding and a small screw drilled into the top track to prevent it from being lifted.
- Basement windows can be secured with grillwork, guards, and bar mechanisms, which can be installed with one-way screws, pins or padlocks. Ensure that at least one window can be opened for possible escape, and that all basement windows in bedroom areas are operable for safety reasons. Another method of adding security to the glazing (glass area) of a window is to apply a shatter resistant film which strengthens the glass area should it be attacked.
- Glass areas can also be covered or even replaced with Lucite (high impact acrylic sheeting) which can survive attack without being broken unless very extreme force is used which will usually take too much time and cause too much noise.
Deadbolts should be used instead on all exterior doors. The minimum length of the throw should be 1 in. or 2.5 cm, and the surrounding collar of the deadbolt should be made of good quality material or have a freely rotating slip ring. A strike plate, which is the flat metal plate on the door frame that receives the locks throw or bolt, should be minimum 6-8 inches and installed with long screws that pass through the door frame and into the wall stud.
Another type of bolt that can be used is the bolt rim lock, which has two vertically moving deadbolts that lock into a frame-mounted striker above and below the door. These locks are suitable for wooden frames or where there are windows on the sides of the door preventing proper installation of a deadbolt. These locks provide good to excellent security, depending on the quality, and are more resistant to crowbars.
Two more modern types of locks are the push button rim-locks and digitally coded deadbolts. A push button rim-lock features a keyless lock, opened by entering the correct combination on the numbered entry pad. Keep in mind that the security code should be changed regularly so the number pad does not wear out from overuse. Digitally coded deadbolt systems with keypad or electronic remote are more expensive, but can be fitted to existing openings. They operate in the same manner as the traditional deadbolt system, but the locking mechanism can be activated without keys using an electronic remote. These systems can be of great benefit to seniors or people with disabilities.
To further add to the already increased security offered by a good quality deadbolt lock, the addition of a steel reinforcement device to both the door and frame greatly increases strength. Such a system is cost effective and simple to install.
Apartments and condos
- do not allow strangers to enter the building as you are leaving or entering
- do not buzz anyone into the building that you were not expecting or do not know
- refer unknown or suspicious people trying to get into the building to the manager, superintendent or security
- cooperate with all other tenants in keeping the main outer doors locked at all times
- use only your first initial (not your full first name) on the lobby directory, doorbell, mailbox, and phone directory
- do not leave notes on your apartment door or on the lobby directory
- change locks if keys are lost or if you move
- look to see who’s in the elevator before entering
- if there is someone in the elevator that makes you uncomfortable, wait for the next one
- when you are in the elevator, stand beside the control panel
- if a suspicious person enters the elevator, exit before the doors close
Apartments and condos
If you are going on vacation or are going to be away from your home or apartment for several days, create the illusion that someone is staying in your home.
- Leave your home in the care of someone you trust and let them know where you can be reached in case of emergency.
- Arrange to have your mail and newspapers picked up, your grass cut, the leaves raked or the snow removed as necessary.
- Have a neighbour check both inside and outside the house every few days.
- Use timers on interior lights when you are going to be away or just out for the evening. These can be set to turn the lights and radio or television on and off intermittently to give the appearance that someone is home.
- Have a neighbour park their car in your driveway or your designated parking stall. If you have a garage, keep the door closed and locked so no one can see if your car is gone.
- Turn the ringer on your telephone off or set your voicemail to pick up on the second ring.
- Install security lights around the perimeter of your house. They are relatively inexpensive and are a great deterrent, especially if they are set with motion detectors. If you already have non-motion lights, battery operated add-on motion sensors exist that simply screw into the existing light socket and mount near the fixture.
- Never leave a note or a voicemail message indicating you are not at home.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions.
- Do not share your vacation plans in social media
- If the overhead garage door is roller and track operated, install a lock in the track to block the roller and disconnect your automatic garage door opener before you go on vacation.
- If you have recently purchased a television, stereo or other household item, do not throw the empty boxes in the alley garbage.
- Leave your keys with a trusted neighbor and not outside under a mat or flower pot.
- When you are in your backyard, lock the front door and vice versa.
- When inside, it is a good idea to keep your doors locked.
- Always lock up ladders and tools.
- When moving to a new home, hire a reliable locksmith to re-key all exterior doors.
- If your irreplaceable items are not in a safe or a safety deposit box, remove them from plain view.
If you experience a break-in
If you come home and see a slit screen, a broken window or an open door, don’t go in – call 911. Fewer than 3% of break-ins occur when someone is home. If you do surprise a thief, don’t confront them. Leave our
- If you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can and call police. Otherwise, lock yourself in a room with a phone and then call 911.
Consider joining Block Watch. A break-and-enter can be prevented if criminals know there are watchful neighbours.
A victim’s guide to break-and enter
You’ve called police – now what?