Home and personal safety in summer

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Did you know that thefts increase in spring through summer in residential areas? Thieves are especially on the look-out for unlocked front doors, garages, and parked vehicles so they can easily grab items. With the pleasant weather outside, thieves can easily roam around especially at night. Here’s how to keep your belongings (and yourself) safe:

  1. Don’t provide opportunity

    Property crimes are generally crimes of opportunity according to Patrol Sergeant Phil Penner of the Winnipeg Police. “If you leave your wallet in your car, a thief walking by may not have had intentions of stealing a wallet that day but you have given them an opportunity if it’s there in plain view. So if we take away the opportunity, you’ve reduced crime,” Penner said.

    Always lock your car doors. However, if you leave valuables in your car and people passing by can see them, thieves may be tempted to break your windows so again, don’t leave anything of value in your car. Apply this principle to your home as well. Don’t leave gardening equipment, bikes and other valuables on your lawn.

    Packages on doorsteps are also an easy target. To prevent package theft, arrange for your deliveries to be placed in a hidden and safe area in your home. You can also:

    • Request for signature confirmation upon delivery.
    • Have your package delivered at work or at the home of a friend or family who will be home.
    • Have your package delivered to your local post office for pick-up.
    • Ask the store if they have options for safe delivery. Some courier companies have a locker in a secure location that you can use.
  2. Lock your doors

    Lock your front door if you’re working in the garden or having a barbecue in your backyard. Lock your back door if you’re working in your front lawn. Seeing that you’re busy can prompt thieves to test your doors and try to get inside. They can be in and out of your home in a few minutes with your TV, car keys and electronics. Also check to see if other access points, like your windows or garage doors, are secure.

    If you live in an apartment or condo block, treat the main entrance as you would the front door of your home. Don’t allow anyone you don’t know into the building (or alert security). Keep doors, lockers and windows locked and secure.

    Other tips:

    • Have solid doors, locks and deadbolts.
    • Have a convenient way of seeing who is at the door without having to open it. You can have a peephole or a glass window, or go high-tech with video intercom or wireless door video systems.
    • Reinforce locks of windows that are near the door.
    • If you’re moving to a new house, change the locks for your security.

    Would You Do This? Break and Enter Prevention, Winnipeg Police Service

  3. Leave the lights on

    Criminals don’t want to be seen and heard so they will avoid well-lighted front and back yards. Install good lighting, or better yet, invest in motion sensor and security lights that you can leave on throughout the night. Coupled with an efficient home alarm system, you’ll have layers of security that can protect you and your family at any time of the day.

  4. Plan for vacations

    If you will be away for an extended period, you should:

    • Make sure that everything is secure in your home before you leave. Use the Get Prepared checklist to help you go through all the necessary steps.
    • Ask a friend or neighbour to check in from time to time. Request that they get the mail, as well newspapers and flyers that are delivered at your door so they don’t pile up. Uncollected mail on doorsteps is a sign to thieves that nobody’s home.
    • Leave your itinerary and contact number with a friend so that they can contact you for any emergency.
    • Don’t record a message on the answering machine telling callers that you’re on vacation.
    • Never post details of your vacation plans on social media.
    • If you’ll be away for more than two weeks, hire someone to mow the lawn and keep hedges trimmed if possible.
  5. Have a safety plan

    Do you know the numbers to call in case of a burglary, fire or medical emergency? Do your kids know what to do if there’s a stranger knocking on your door?

    Don’t be that person who thinks of safety only when something bad happens to them. The effort you put in today can save you in the future. Talk to your family about home safety and make an emergency plan. You can also include a home audit to crime-proof your home. The Winnipeg Police Service’s home audit checklist can guide you. Also read Get Prepared (Make an Emergency Plan). It will take you only 20 minutes to come up with your own plan using this online guide.

Article updated May 26, 2023.
Sources: Winnipeg Police Service; Interview with Patrol Sergeant Phil Penner, How to prevent ‘porch pirates’ from stealing packages from your door, according to police, Todd Haselton, CNBC; Is your home safe when you go on vacation? Canada.ca. Accessed June 5, 2020.

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