Protect yourself from a home invasion

The holiday season is a time of sharing. But don’t take it to the extreme by sharing your household belongings with burglars. With so many people shopping, getting new gifts, going out for parties, and leaving on vacation, this is the season of joy for thieves too.

  • Nov. 26, 2008 7:00 a.m.

(NC)—The holiday season is a time of sharing. But don’t take it to the extreme by sharing your household belongings with burglars. With so many people shopping, getting new gifts, going out for parties, and leaving on vacation, this is the season of joy for thieves too.

Unfortunately, this reality became all to clear for London, Ontario resident Deb Johnson when she returned home from an afternoon of Christmas shopping last December. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she remembered. “My door was broken open and all of the drawers, cupboards and closets were left opened. My belongings were either missing or strewn all over the floor.”

A quick inventory of her personal items revealed the loss of her TV, stereo, DVD, laptop and precious family jewelry. A frantic look under the Christmas tree brought to light her worse fears – the burglars even snatched her presents under the tree.

“I just broke down in tears. I felt hurt, cheated and most of all violated by this callous attack on my privacy,” Johnson added.

Patrice De Luca, vice president of marketing and business development for Reliance Protectron Security Services, says Johnson’s reaction is consistent with victims of burglary. “It takes people months and sometimes years to feel safe again after an intrusion.”

And Johnson is not alone. According to a recent Statistics Canada study, Canada has the highest yearly rate of home intrusions of all the industrialized countries.

That’s why De Luca recommends that when you’re out for the night at a Christmas party, shopping or other seasonal events make an extra effort to remember some of the following year-round anti-burglary steps:

• Detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide should be installed at strategic locations – your kitchen, stairwell, bedroom hallways and other high-traffic household areas.

Monitored smoke detectors can save lives by having operators standing by 24-7 and dispatching emergency services if required (for example if fire occurs while sleeping).

• Security system decals and signs are also an effective deterrent.

• Don’t leave valuables in sight through windows, where they will tempt burglars.

• To secure sliding glass doors, add a bolt lock or use a “charley bar” to block the door closed.

• Use bars to secure basement or garage doors and add bars to basement windows.

• Invest in high-quality, name-brand deadbolt locks for all exterior doors.

• Make sure your security system includes a loud inside alarm, detectors at all exterior doors, and motion sensors in the master bedroom and main living areas.

• Use timers to turn lights, televisions and sound systems on and off at different times to give your home a “lived-in look” when you’re away.

• Don’t let mail, newspapers or flyers accumulate while you’re away, tipping off criminals. Have the post office hold mail, have newspapers suspended, and have a neighbor or friend clear away flyers. More information on home security is available online at www.protectron.com.

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