What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Neighbours are Away

At our previous home that was rural, folks depended on each other.  Everyone knew if someone was away and would pitch in to make it look like they weren't.  The thing is burglars target homes that look like there is no one home.  We have had a rash of recent home and vehicle break-ins.  I am a member of our local Neighbourhood Watch so know some of the clues to watch for but so do the criminals.  The thing is, a lot of this type of theft can be stopped by a bit of defense by the homeowner.  I'm looking around our neighbourhood, seeing that at least four of our neighbours are away and it is rather blatantly clear.  One neighbour has had their porch light on for over a week yet if she is home that light is never on.  Another neighbour has two bags of subscription newspapers waiting to be picked up in their driveway.  Another neighbour's grass needs cutting which is something very noticeable in a neighbourhood where folks keep their yards neat and trimmed.  Finally, a neighbour put their garbage and recycle bins out last Monday where they sat on his lawn empty for for over a week.  What is wrong with this?

First and foremost all of these signs are clear flags to the would be burglar that no one is home, in essence the perfect invitation to break in.  Even if the home has an activated security system, the owners should not announce the fact that they are away.  Arrange to have someone pick up newspapers, mail and waste bins, putting them inside away from prying eyes.  The same should be done with grass cutting and/or snow removal even if it has to be hired out.  It is very inexpensive to put outdoor lighting on motion activated sensors, solar sensors or timers.  In fact, all methods should be used for indoor and outdoor lighting even if you do have a monitored alarm system. 

GE has nice LED motion activated lights for indoor use.  There's higher end home automation that can even control your thermostat from a remote location or there is the lower end, expandable X-10 system that incorporates all three types of sensors.  Motion sensors and times can also operate small appliances like radios, televisions, pool pumps to give your home that lived in feeling while you are away providing they aren't set to a rigid schedule.  Even solar powered radios can be used.  The goal is to mimic your normal household activity through home automation to make it look like someone is home. 

A vehicle sitting in the same position in the driveway is a dead give away you aren't home even if you use all the home automation tips but at the same time an extended period of an empty driveway is another clue you are away unless you routinely park in your garage and your garage has no windows for prying eyes.  Make sure your vehicle is locked and valuables out of sight even if it is in the garage.  Have a family member or friend move the vehicle, change how it is parked, borrow it for a short period of time, park in your driveway with their vehicle and that type of thing to give the appearance to would-be-thieves that either someone is home or someone is watching the house.

Finally, if you are going to be away for an extended period of time as in more than a few days, notify your local police department.  Let them know if you have a monitored alarm system, the contact information and when your expected return date is.  They will watch for any suspicious activity around your house and will respond faster to triggered alarms knowing the house is supposed to be empty.  DO NOT announce you will be away on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media format including newsgroups and forums.  DO NOT make any messages while you are away indicating that you are away aka my house is empty. 

Garden Gnome