One of the most common security mistakes that people make is to leave their side and/or back gates unlocked. As I have pointed out in several posts, the goal is not to make it physically impossible to break into your home (which is impossible), but to create too much hassle for a potential crook. Essentially, the goal is to help the burglar make the decision that your home is just ‘not worth it’ as early as possible.
Ensuring that your gates are locked at all times goes a long way to increasing a burglar’s hassle factor.
A few years ago, at my family’s old house in Kerrisdale, I installed a perimeter CCTV system. The cameras were configured to detect motion and send me an e-mail every time an alarm was detected. I quickly reduced the sensitivity of the cameras after getting a barrage of email alerts for every skunk, raccoon and cat that used our back deck as a pathway… which I had expected. What I was, however, very surprised to learn was that several nights a week our back deck would be visited by a regular ‘binner’… one of the guys who trolls the alleys collecting cans and bottles.
Our back yard had a two level deck which led to a set of french doors leading to our Kitchen. Often, I would place our empty bottles, cans and other recycling just outside these doors. As a result, our back deck became a regular check-point on this binner’s nightly route. I remember watching one video replay of the guy coming into our yard, climbing the two sets of stairs to get up to our Kitchen door and taking the cans… all without waking our dog who was sleeping in the next room.
It was a little disconcerting to see how comfortable this guy appeared to be in my backyard. It is worth noting that, in my experience, most binners are not burglars. However, he still was not welcome inside my yard.
A $10.00 padlock from Kerrisdale Lumber solved the problem. We locked each of our gates and kept the keys hidden close by to keep it from being too inconvenient. We never had another can taken, or unwelcome visitor in our backyard again.
This summer, when we moved to our new place, we had a fencing company beef up the back and side fences as well as add two proper gates. They also installed a gate locking product called Lokk-Latch (see the photo above) which we had installed by Accurate Cedar. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, Lee Valley carries a seemingly comparable product.The great thing about this product is that it allows you to lock/unlock your gate from either side.
One of the convenience factors with the Lokk Latch is that you can have it keyed the same as your house. We elected to keep our gates keyed separately so that we could give keys to the yard to a couple of service providers without having to worry about house keys floating around.
However you do it, make sure that your side and back gates are locked.