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Home Security and Protection

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A man in a police uniform walks between two houses

Follow these tips to secure your home and protect yourself from criminals. If you think someone has broken into your home, do not enter.  Call 9-1-1 immediately.

Secure your door

  • Install a good deadbolt lock.
  • Install good quality dead bolts, locks and a wide angle "peep hole".
  • If you have children, consider including a second peep-hole at a child's height.
  • All hinges should be accessible from the interior of the home only.
  • Ensure your door is equipped with non-removable hinge pins.
  • Most doors are installed with screws less than one inch in length. Door kick break-ins are common, so door screws should be at least 2 ½ to 3 ½ inches long.

Secure your windows

  • Sliding doors and windows can be "lifted" out of the tracks with relative ease. Install screws or a blocking device above the sliding door or window to prevent it from being lifted off the tracks.
  • Install a snug piece of wood in the track of sliding patio doors.
  • Install a pin into the frame of a sliding window to prevent it from being pushed open.
  • Glass within 40 inches of a door lock can be broken and a criminal can reach inside to unlock the door. The security of windows can be improved by adding a polycarbonate panel. Call a glass specialist for details.

Additional protection tips

  • Instead of hiding a key outside your home, give a spare key to a trusted neighbor/friend.
  • Install a good padlock on garages for better security.
  • Consider putting lights on timers so it appears you're at home. Have lights turn on and off in different rooms, at varying times.
  • Never open the door to strangers - ask for identification from service personnel and confirm their attendance with the company.
  • Never allow anyone into your home to use the phone - call for them.
  • Don't let anyone know you are home alone.
  • Keep bushes and landscaping trimmed in order to allow for natural surveillance of your home from neighbours, pedestrians and people passing by.
  • Never leave notes advising you are not home on your door for delivery people.
  • Report suspicious people and/or vehicles to police immediately.
  • Avoid putting your name on a gate, sign, or mailbox. This gives thieves a chance to look your name up in the phone book and call you under a false pretense.
  • Cut back any tree limbs that might help a thief get access to any second storey windows.
  • Be sure to lock up tools and ladders in the shed or the garage. Accessible tools can be used to break into your home.
  • Be sure your home is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Be a good neighbour. Report any suspicious activities in and around your neighbourhood.
  • Use high beams upon entering the garage and have a good look around before you leave the safety of your car.

While you are away

  • Put lights on timers to give the impression someone is home.
  • Tell a trusted neighbour your vacation plans and provide emergency contact numbers.
  • Do not post comments on social media sites telling people you're out of town.
  • Do not post pictures while you are away. Wait until you get home.
  • Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway.
  • Keep small valuables in a safe deposit box.
  • Remember to suspend newspaper delivery.
  • Have someone mow your lawn/shovel your driveway.
  • Record your valuables. Identify your property by engraving an identifying mark, such as a unique number, on to it. Proper identification may deter thieves and makes it easier for the police to return property if recovered. Keep your insurance policies current.
  • Always think of personal safety. Upon returning home, scan the front of your home.
  • Keep blinds and shades at their normal position.

Protect your vehicle

  • Do not leave your vehicle running while unattended.
  • Maintain control of your keys at all times.
  • Always lock your vehicle, even while in the driveway.
  • When possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage.
  • Don't leave keys hanging inside the door, especially if they can be seen from outside.
  • Ensure valuables are in the trunk or out of view.

Increase your security in apartment/condominium buildings

As a tenant:

  • Do not permit someone you don't know enter the building.
  • Never leave an external door propped open.
  • Put only your first initial on the directory.
  • Get to know your neighbours.
  • Use building facilities during active times.
  • Report suspicious activity.

As a landlord:

  • Post signs near the main doors; on the outside: "We cannot open the door to strangers." On the inside: "Do not open the door to strangers."
  • Facilitate introductions for new residents.
  • Keep the property well maintained with working lights and well lit areas.
  • Start a Neighbourhood Watch program.

Safety in underground parking lots

  • Be aware if someone follows you into the underground parking area.
  • Always check for suspicious people or vehicles before entering the garage or leaving your vehicle. If you see something suspicious notify security or police.
  • Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
  • Always lock your vehicle.
  • Check your vehicle before you get in.
  • Once inside your vehicle, lock the doors.

Elevator safety

  • Observe passengers in the elevator. If you do not feel comfortable, wait for the next one.
  • If possible, be the last to enter the elevator and be the last to indicate your floor.
  • Stand with your back to the sidewall, near the control panel.
  • If attacked, press as many floor buttons as possible.
  • If someone suspicious enters the elevator, exit immediately.

Safety in laundry rooms or other shared spaces

  • Time your trips during active periods when others are present or use the buddy system.
  • If you must go alone, tell someone where you'll be.
  • Look into the room before entering it.
  • Report suspicious activity to security or police.

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch is a program supported by police and maintained by the community. The concept behind Neigbourhood Watch is simple: Neighbours looking out for one another to help prevent crime and keep communities safe. York Regional Police can assist you in starting a Neighbourhood Watch Program in your area. Here's how:

  • Contact York Regional Police and ask for a Crime Prevention Officer in your district. The officer will help organize a meeting with residents in your community.
  • If there's support for the program, a subsequent meeting will be held to determine an overall coordinator and several block captains.
  • Once the leadership is established, police can help facilitate regular meetings and help organize community events.