The B.C. Day long weekend is one of the most travelled weekends of the year, and Crime Stoppers is urging homeowners to take a few extra steps to protect their property from criminals while away from home.
“August long weekend is the number one weekend that people go away on vacation and leave their houses vulnerable to break-ins,” Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers’ executive director Linda Annis told Black Press Media outside a home in Cloverdale Wednesday.
From cracked open windows to leaving the spare key underneath a favourite porch ornament, Annis said that while most of her tips seem to be common sense, homeowners and renters across B.C. are simply forgetting before taking off for a weekend.
“We get comfortable in our homes and our neighbourhoods,” she said. “We put security cameras out that are meant to prevent crimes but most of the time burglars don’t see them. We may get their images after the fact, but because we’re so comfortable we get careless about home security.”
Break-and-enters have been decreasing over the years in B.C. Still, in 2017, there were 26, 318 known break-and-enters in the province. Of those cases, less than one in 10 incidents resulted in someone being charged with the theft.
“It happens everywhere. There are little signs that people don’t even think about,” she said. “If you live in rural B.C. and … you’ve got a mailbox at the end of your driveway, does somebody pick up your mail or your parcels? Are those overflowing? That’s another sign there’s probably nobody home.”
Other common mistakes include leaving a ladder leaning against the side of a home, leaving a note for a delivery person about being away and leaving the front gate unlocked on larger properties.
Annis said it also doesn’t hurt for nearby residents to keep an extra eye out for their neighbours and report any suspicious activity to police, by calling Crime Stoppers or using the new P3 app. The P3 app allows for anyone to report a crime anonymously and upload pictures, phone video or documents alongside the tip.
Ahead of the B.C. long weekend, Crime Stoppers has released a home safety checklist so anyone can safe-proof before hitting “go” on vacation mode:
- Leave your house with a “lived-in” look
- If ordering merchandise online, make sure the package is delivered well before you go away, so it doesn’t sit on the doorstep. Also cancel newspaper and bottled water deliveries.
- Ask a trusted neighbour to collect your mail, and maybe have them park their car in your driveway.
- Close and lock all windows and doors, and set security alarms. This includes garage doors. Use timers on lights and leave radios on to create the impression that someone is still home.
- Don’t leave a spare key outside under a mat or flower plant pot. Better to leave the spare key with a trusted neighbour or friend.
- Once you’ve left, don’t post public messages on social media that will tip off any shady characters that you’re far, far away.
- Don’t reveal your holiday plans to strangers, not even the cabbie or bus driver taking you to the airport.
- Anyone you do tell, make it sound like you have a house sitter… whether you do or not.
- Don’t put your full home address on your luggage. A postal code is good enough.
- If you normally leave bicycles, yard tools, ladders outside or in your shed, lock them in the house or garage.
- Trim trees and shrubs near windows and entries, and clean up before you leave – don’t give burglars a place to hide.