Get a dog as a loyal companion or as an excuse to get daily exercise. Count on a noisy dog to give pause to vandals and pranksters, but protect a home in other ways as well. Security companies and serious burglars alike say that barking dogs might send a "stay away" message to nuisance visitors, but that determined criminals are not likely to be deterred solely by Fido or Fifi.
How Well Do Dogs Protect Your Home?
As much as you may hate it when your dog barks when someone walks past your Calgary house or when someone walks up the front step, you may secretly be happy that Fido is on duty protecting your home from strangers. But are bad guys really deterred by a dog in the house? If there’s something in your home they want, will a dog really stop them?
In the top 10 things that stop burglars from targeting your home, a dog comes in at Number Four. You don’t have to keep a German Shepherd or a Doberman behind your gated fence, ready to rip the seats out of the bad guy’s pants. Any dog that yaps, howls or barks at a strange noise at any time of day or night will do.
Here’s a list of other things that will help robbers stay away as compiled by researchers at the University of North Carolina after interviewing almost 400 criminals about what security measures they believe are effective, from last effective to most:
Some Startling Statistics
Contrary to popular opinion, the majority of home break-ins may no longer be by masked offenders under cover of darkness. About 60 percent of home burglaries, according to some statistics, happen in the daytime, but the overwhelming majority occur when no one is home.
The average time spent by a burglar inside a home is less than 15 minutes. Cash, prescription drugs and jewelry, followed by electronics, smartphones and other devices, are primary targets. Identity theft, however, related to home burglaries, is on the rise.
Only about 15 percent of home burglaries result in a conviction.
The Home as Target
Burglars target homes that promise quick entrance and easy exit, often in the middle of the afternoon. Women are the offenders in a surprising number of cases, according to Dr. Joseph Kuhns, a University of North Carolina criminology professor.
Criminal incidents are higher in neighborhoods populated by a large number of young people, and in areas near major shopping or entertainment centers where there is a lot of non-resident traffic.
Easy targets are unkempt homes, those that have obviously inadequate locks, and those with "hiding places," including untrimmed shrubbery, large trees and privacy fences.
Smart homeowners will install practical locks, adequate lighting, a security system or video camera, and take other serious precautions to protect life and property. But they will also be mindful about habits that can mark a home as an easy target: a pile of newspapers in the driveway, untidy yards and an overgrown landscape, open windows and garage doors, and "cheap" locks.
Best Ways to Protect a Home
A hefty keyed or combination lock with a deadbolt—both at the entry and at the back door — conveys a message that homeowners are serious about home security. Locked (and closed) windows and sturdy screens reinforce that message. In addition, it's wise to install specialized anti-entry devices for sliding patio doors. Garage doors should always be closed and locked.
An Alarm System:
Home security systems are not only valuable deterrents, but they can be instrumental in summoning help in an emergency. Today's wireless systems vary from basic on-site sirens to fully-monitored systems that will notify the proper response teams in case of break-in, fire or medical emergency.
Motion Activated Lighting:
Many home burglars still count on stealth and darkness. Motion-activated lighting around the perimeter of a home supplies an element of surprise and shines a spotlight to thwart criminal intent. The same is true of interior lighting. Motion-activated lighting in a basement or dark hallway will not only add to a home's security quotient, but is a safety feature as well.
Store Valuables in a Home Safe: A fireproof home, bolted to the floor, installed under the slab, or hidden behind a locked door, can provide valuable protection for papers, jewelry and cash. A camouflaged tin in the refrigerator or pantry is simply no match for a good combination safe.
Use Social Media Wisely:
Be cautious about sharing family plans, whereabouts and activities on social media, and be aware that the photos posted of your home and possessions may seem like an invitation to a burglar.
Natural Deterrents to Criminals
An Easy Getaway
Making it difficult for a robber to escape your premises is a deterrent. A locked gate will slow them down. A trimmed and tidy hedge will make it difficult for them to hide and so will motion activated lights in the back yard or on your garage.
A Security Company Sign
Whether you have a security system isn’t the issue. It’s the sign in the front of your home that advertises to burglars that there may or may not be. A sign beside the front door or a sticker in the windows is sometimes all you need. A robber may not want to take the risk that your sign is false advertising.
Close to Neighbours
When someone is trying to break into your home, it’s a great time to have nosey neighbours. The closer your neighbours, the better. It’s also a good idea to be part of a Neighbourhood Watch Program as well.
Lots of Traffic
The more pedestrian or vehicular traffic there is on your street, the more possible witnesses to a break-in, as far as a robber is concerned. There’s not much you can do if you live on a quiet street, but if you move in the future you might want to keep this in mind.
Proximity to a police district station
A precinct, a community station or even a coffee shop where police often congregate is something in your favour. A robber wants a cop as far away as possible.
Vehicle in the Driveway
It’s a sure sign to a burglar that someone either is home, or might be home. Like an alarm company sticker, they might not want to take a chance that someone’s not home. If you go away for the weekend or on vacation, keep a car or ask a neighbour to park in your driveway.
A Barking Dog
There are just three things better than having a dog to keep the bad guys from thinking twice. And those are:
People in the House
Unless a robber is planning armed robberies, which are rare occurrences, they really don’t want to run into people. Most burglars, if caught, don’t want to spend a huge amount of time incarcerated so are only prepared for the relatively petty crime of breaking and entering. They likely don’t want anything major on top of that. They just want to grab your stuff and run. Many break-ins happen during the day when people are out. Except, hopefully your dog. (see Point 4). You may also want to think about having a house sitter if you’re going on holidays or at least have someone who is willing to make the house look lived in while you’re on vacation.
A Security Alarm
In the survey undertaken by researchers, 60% of criminals said that having an alarm system would make them walk right by a home. It’s as much of a deterrent to a potential robber choosing your home as it is from attempting a break in and having the alarm go off.
Security Cameras and Surveillance
A well-placed security camera, or Closed Circuit Television (CCT) has solved many crimes as more homeowners are opting to install them. One in the front and one in the back will capture any criminal activity around your home and today’s technology ensures a clear picture. This is the best deterrent to keep the bad guys away and much quieter than a barking dog. Plus, you don’t have to feed it.
Finally, about that dog. Some thieves say that a large dog would be a reason to move on to another home, while others report that even a small, barking dog is a distinct annoyance. But, during a criminal break-in, even the family pet is in jeopardy, so don't neglect the other deterrents.