April 4, 2013 11:49 pm
Updated: April 5, 2013 8:32 pm

Protecting yourself and your home from a break and enter

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EDMONTON- Being the victim of a break and enter can be scary, and a huge violation of your privacy and personal space.

“I’ve been broken into four times; the garage once and three times in the home,” said Becki Pound, who rents a home in the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood.

“I got my kid’s birthday money stolen three days before the party and that was really hard,” Pound added, holding back tears.

Pound moved into the home in June and says it’s extremely tough being the victim of a break-in.

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“I really think that the reason I’m targeted is because my house is very unsecured,” said Pound.

Along with spring and summer in Edmonton, come an increase in the number of residential break and enters.

As a result, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and city officials are coming together in hopes of educating residents on how they can protect themselves from becoming a victim of a break-in.

Acting Sergeant Kurtis Hauptman says break and enters are a crime of opportunity.

“If you create the opportunity for (the offender), he’ll take it,” he said. “Every opportunity that we give the offender, the more chances they’re going to take and the more chances that you’re going to be victimized.”

There are a number of steps residents can take to help deter thieves, starting with making sure windows are secured, particularly those at ground level.

“We hope that there’s a piece of dowel or maybe an old piece of hockey stick in there so that the windows can’t be slid open very easily from the outside,” Hauptman explained.

He also suggests using padlocks on gates and motion sensors on lights, particularly in the back yard.

“If (the offender) sees a lock at the fence he may not come in. Now he’s jumped the fence, now a light turns on him. Now he might decide, ‘you know what, I’m going to skip this property.'”

When it comes to the garage, Hauptman says it’s important to have a deadbolt lock on the door and cover the windows so potential thieves can’t see what’s inside.

“Now (the offender) doesn’t know what’s in there so he might not take the time to actually get into that garage. Whether it be tools, a compressor, anything that can be easily pawned off, that’s usually what we find offenders will be looking after.”

Shovelling the snow in the winter and cutting the grass in the summer are important tips, as well. Hauptman also recommends moving things such as barbeques away from the windows, so they don’t become stepping stones for criminals.

“That shows that someone is watching the property and that they’ve taken the time to make sure that no one is going to try to break into their house.”

Residents are also encouraged not to leave items lying around the yard, as those are easy targets for thieves.

Another crucial tip from Hauptman; get to know your neighbours.

“If I know who’s supposed to be on your property, because I know that neighbour, and I know their friends, and I know their family, then I’m more likely to call (police) if I see somebody that doesn’t belong on that property.”

Pound says she’s taken Hauptman’s suggestions and hopes her landlord will help with some of the safety improvements her home needs.

“I think just boarding up everything I can, keeping my doors locked, locking the back gate has made a little bit of a difference.”

To provide further tips for residents, the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) will be holding an information session on Monday, April 8, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, at the Alberta Avenue Community Hall.

The document below also provides helpful tips on how to protect you and your home from a break-in.

With files from Ross Neitz.

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