Like many property related crimes, break-and-enters to homes, apartments and garages remain crimes of opportunity that do not take a break when you do. In fact, many thieves will monitor neighbourhoods and properties, taking note of when people are away to plan their break-in, the costs of which may severely dampen your post-vacation glow.
“We’ve encountered homeowners who have lost approximately $70,000 worth of property,” says Const. Carly Perreaux with the Edmonton Police Service West Division. “Stolen items such as jewelry, electronics, art, family heirlooms and personal financial documents can add up quickly.”
In 2019, the Edmonton Police Service received more than 3400 reports of home, apartment and garage break-and-enters, resulting in approximately 9 incidents per day citywide. On average, a home break-and-enter report results in $40,000 of lost property and a garage break-and-enter approximately $2,000, with the most commonly stolen items including jewelry, cheques, bicycles and tools.
So, what attracts a thief to your home? A variety of things, particularly in winter when your time away may be more noticeable. Snow covered sidewalks, full mail boxes, a lack of consistent lighting indoors and vehicles that have not been moved or cleared are all great indicators that you are away and may be for while. Poor exterior lighting, trees and bushes to hide in, and valuables left outdoors are also a draw. In some cases, another crime may lead them to your home or garage, such as a theft from vehicle.
“In one 2019 incident, a thief broke into a complainant’s vehicle first and stole their insurance documents, which contained their home address,” says Perreaux. “The thief was later arrested after attempting to break in to the complainant’s home.”
How are they getting in? The most common method of entry remains surprisingly simple: unsecured windows and doors. Using a pry par to gain entry is also common.
“The path of least resistance is often the most common,” says Perreaux. “Similar to thefts from vehicles and auto thefts, thieves will often check for open windows and doors on homes and garages to find the easiest point of entry.
Whether at home or away, the simplest thing you can do to protect yourself is always lock your windows and doors.”
Finally, if you experience a break-and-enter, always call police to report it.
“Regardless of how minor your break-and-enter may seem, always report it,” says Perreaux. “Reporting helps us to track and monitor crime trends and contributes to proactively preventing others from being victimized.”
If you’ve experienced a break-and-enter or believe you may have information about a break-and-enter in your area, please contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. If you feel you are in immediate danger, always call 911. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.
Protecting your home
When on vacation
- Have mail and other deliveries picked up; stop delivery of newspapers and flyers.
- Remember to have the grass cut, the leaves raked, or the snow removed.
- Use timers on lamps in rooms where the light can be seen from outside.
- Have a neighbour check the inside and outside of your home every few days.
- If you have an assigned parking space or driveway, ask a neighbour to park their car in your space.
- Set televisions or radios to play to give the impression that people are home.
- Don’t announce your vacation on your voicemail or via your social media accounts.
When at home
- When in your house, garage or yard always keep your doors locked.
- Keep garage and house window coverings closed at night so others cannot see inside.
- Make note of your most valuable possessions: take photos of these items and track serial numbers where applicable.
For more information on protecting your home, the EPS has updated a simple checklist pamphlet which can be found at your nearest divisional station or online. For additional property protection tips, you can also visit the EPS website.