A typical residential burglary

Most people are shocked to hear about how burglaries on the Westside (or anywhere) actually occur. After being at the scene of literally thousands of burglaries during my experience with the RCMP and Provident, I have found that the vast majority of burglaries are nearly identical, making it relatively easy to anticipate and prevent one at your home.

Residentially, most burglaries occur between 11:00am and 4:00pm (yes, broad daylight) Monday through Friday. The burglar will typically go to your front door and knock. If someone answers, they may ask for a random person (“Is Bob here?”) or for directions to some obscure address… whatever they say, you can be pretty sure that if it sounds and looks suspicious, the man at the door is likely casing out homes in your neighbourhood and you should call both 911 and Provident to come and check it out.   

If, alternately, no one comes to the door, the crook will do a tour around the house and knock again on the back door. Whichever door looks weaker tends to be the one that will be used. Entry is most often gained using a screwdriver or crowbar near the lock to pry the door just enough so that a good kick will split the door frame. In most cases, the door and deadbolt withstand the kick, but the doorframe splits, allowing the burglar to walk right in.

Once inside, the crook(s) will go straight to the master bedroom and empty out the bedside tables and dressers. The next stop is the closet where they will rifle through everything looking for cash, jewellery and anything that can be easily turned into cash. After the master bedroom, they’ll typically do a quick tour of the entire house looking for other portable items like cameras before heading out to their waiting stolen car.  

In my experience, the one variation of the above scenario is when entry is gained through a window, often on the second floor, with the burglar hoping there is no alarm sensor. In that case, the first stop will be a main floor door in order to open it and prepare an easy escape, before heading to the master bedroom.

As most of the property crime in  Vancouver is committed by drug addicts trying to support their habit, stolen goods are sold very quickly , often within an hour of the burglary. Most of the time, a crook gets about 10 cents on the dollar. As a result of these economics, a typical burglar needs to break into multiple homes every day to support their drug habit. 

What are the lessons?

1. You need to “five-minute proof” your most precious belongings…. DO NOT keep anything that you cannot replace in your master bedroom; 

2. Whether you have anything or not in your master bedroom, that is where the crooks want to go… consider installing a deadbolt on your master bedroom door (even if you only use it when you are      out of town). This will slow them down and allow time for Provident to respond;

3. Consider having a safe installed. However, you must be willing to have it professionally installed by a locksmith. Believe me, it does not matter how heavy the safe it, if it is not bolted into the ground      (preferably a concrete pad) it can be stolen.

4. Typically, people are most concerned with losing irreplaceable family jewellery. If you have jewellery that you do not regularly wear, consider using a safe deposit box at the bank or in a properly installed safe… or store it somewhere else in your house, but not in the master bedroom.

Remember that the goal of your security plan is to ensure that it would take a crook five minutes or more, from the point at which the alarm is tripped, to get to your most valuable possessions. 

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