Police say understanding thieves can prevent break-ins

Wellington County OPP are tell­ing citizens that knowing how a thief thinks will help them avoid becoming a victim of theft.

“If you are like most people, you are concerned about the safe­ty of your home and your community,” said OPP Con­stable Mark Cloes. “One parti­cular type of crime that causes tremendous stress for the vic­tims is breaking and enter­ing, or burglary.”

Victims of home break-ins typically find the experience more than just a physical loss. They find it traumatic, dis­turb­ing, and intimidating. Many are anxious for weeks afterward, and have a feeling of being personally violated.

Cloes said that predictably, residential break-ins will hap­pen more frequently in house­holds where crime prevention measures have not been taken. It is relatively easy to take ef­fective precautions without be­coming a fortress.

He said that most home break-ins occur in daylight. Typically those crimes are of­ten committed by young men be­tween ages 16 and 25. Most occur on weekdays between 9am and 5pm when home­own­ers are most likely to be gone from the home at work.

“Amateur burglars are op­portunists,” Cloes said. “They don’t choose homes randomly, but they look for opportunities – houses that can be approached without neighbours seeing or hearing anything; a door left ajar; or a window propped open for ventilation, a garage door left up when you are gone.

“Some crooks cruise a neigh­bourhood, looking for a house that seems unoccupied. If no one responds to the door­bell or knocking, they will ex­amine the home more closely, looking at the type of windows; look for alarms; and so on.”

Cloes said that breaking into a home is not a sophis­ti­cated crime. To gain access to a building, crooks do not rely on skill, but on concealment, speed, and force. In most break-ins, they enter the house from a door or window located in the basement or on the ground floor.

Once in, they steal anything that might be valuable and can be easily carried, and sold. The thieves work quickly, often dem­on­strating an uncanny abil­ity to locate hidden valuables.

Cloes said that consumer electronics, TVs, digital cam­eras, computers, laptops and so on, are the most popular stolen items. Cash, jewellery, and liquor are also favoured items.

The county OPP advises homeowners to be proactive in the safety and security of the home and make it less desirable to criminals. By knowing the con­ditions favourable to burg­lars and taking steps to elimi­nate those conditions, home­owners can greatly reduce the chances that their home will be targeted for a break-in.

Security tips that will help to reduce thieves targeting your home include:

– if someone comes to the door asking to use the phone to call for assistance, offer to place the call yourself and do not let them into the home;

– don’t give information about the household to tele­phone surveys; and

– if the house is equipped with an alarm, use it. Make sure all family members use the alarm as well.