Warm weather is here in Canada and other parts of the world, hopefully for a few months. It is also the time of year when we are entertaining and aren’t as safety conscious, leaving windows open, unlatching gates and patio doors. The barbecue is going, food is abundant, alcohol may be flowing, talking is non-stop, everyone is having a great time! So the question is, “how do you enjoy back yard entertaining, and prevent break-ins or harm?
It is easy to sit in our back yards or hang around the pool, having a few drinks with friends and family and forgetting about locking the front door, or leaving windows wide open away from our view. How many times have you said, “the gate’s unlocked, come on through?” This is OK if it is in your back yard, you have a view of the gate, and you are expecting someone.
SOME INTERESTING STATISTICS
Every year, there are over 2.2 million burglaries in the U.S. (every 15 seconds). Summer is a prime time for robberies with July and August having the highest. According to the Prevention of Residential Burglary, if you have been burglarized once, you are 12 times more likely to have it happen again and single family dwellings are targeted more than apartments.
In Canada, burglaries occur in 1 in 28 households. According to SGI Canada:
- Every 90 seconds a break-in occurs
- More than 80% occurs during daylight
- Most are made by amateur burglars
- Most enter through a basement or first floor window or door
The sad reality is that a lot of break-ins are unreported.
12 TIPS TO PREVENT BREAK-INS
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as we enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and summer fun and entertaining. Just because you have a bunch of people over, doesn’t mean a daring person wouldn’t try to break in. A burglary isn’t always performed by one person – someone can be on the lookout while the other person is doing the deed.
These general tips can be applied for everyday safety as well or if you are planning to be away from your home for any length of time.
Never leave keys in door locks or nearby where they can be spotted through a window. Be mindful of sticking keys in planters or under an obvious rock as that is a likely place a burglar would look. A trusted neighbour is a great place to leave an extra set of keys.
If you are having a family event or outside entertaining, let your neighbours know you will be in the back yard. They can let you know if they see suspicious activity (like someone checking out a window!).
Make sure all equipment is put away when finished using them. Keep sheds and buildings securely locked as intruders will look for any means of access to a property.
If you are outside in the evening, especially in the back or on the side, keep front lights on.
As an added precaution and more peace of mind, install alarms, cameras or sensor lights. If you are using an alarm activated by a code, frequently change it. Sensor lights are great, not only to light up the front and back yards when visitors are about but also in the home, to give the illusion that someone is inside. In fact, you can set several timers – the bedroom, kitchen, living area – at different times so it appears the house is never truly empty while you are entertaining outside.
Make sure all windows are up, sunroof closed and doors locked, especially if in the driveway. You are not responsible for your visitors’ vehicles, but you can look after your own. If you are the visitor, lock your vehicle’s doors and roll up the windows. Out of habit, we always lock our vehicle, even when visiting friends. It’s a good habit to get into.
If you are puttering inside the garage and it is a detached, make sure the house is locked securely if no one else is at home. If it is attached, make sure exterior doors and windows to the house are locked. If you are entertaining in the back yard and you have an inside garage door that leads into the house, it is wise to keep that locked.
Keep the locks on your storage sheds in good repair as well as any windows. Thieves will gladly take your lawnmower if it is easily accessible.
If your property is fenced, make sure all gates are securely locked, especially if you are alone in the yard or garden. Keep fences and gates in good repair and replace any damaged locks.
If you are exiting a room, close the windows and doors. Leaving a window wide open is a great temptation for an intruder. If your home is on the first level, never leave windows and doors to unoccupied rooms open. Use extra precaution in the basement by using steel or wooden rods.
It is a good idea to close curtains and blinds, especially if you are on the lower level and your personal belongings are visible. It also prevents someone seeing the layout of your home.
Hopefully, the pet door is in the back where you can monitor your pet but if it is in an area away from your view, consider a locking mechanism. Don’t leave a door open where a pet can wander in and out, especially if it is a door on the side of the house or where you can’t see it.
If you are entertaining in the back yard, keep front doors and windows secured. If guests are coming and going inside the house, to use the bathroom, or getting something from their vehicle, etc., periodically check to make sure they haven’t left a door unlocked.
The day is over; you are tired. However, make sure all windows and doors are securely locked. If you can’t sleep without a window open, then consider installing a window restrictor or sash stop, but lock it in place so that it cannot be opened further.
These precautions will ensure that you can entertain and enjoy your company in the back yard or around the pool. No one wants to end their afternoon or evening fun by discovering a break-in has occurred. And of course, we all think “it won’t happen to us.” Better to take the extra precautions.
We house sit a lot and even though we don’t have control over such things as alarms and lighting, we can certainly make sure doors and windows are closed and locked, for example. Sometimes we entertain friends in the back yard and can follow some of these tips.
Remember, if you find you are the victim of a break-in, report it immediately to the police and to your home insurance company.
What do you think of these tips? Is there anything else you would add? Have you ever been robbed while entertaining in your backyard?