Even in Cyprus where crime is low and we feel secure and safe we still need to be vigilant when it comes to safety. After the holidays, many property owners put empty boxes advertising their expensive gifts out on the curb or the nearby rubbish bins. This gives a good sign to potential burglars… it screams, “I just got a new TV! Come and rob me!” That’s just one example of what not to do. If property owners are also sellers that have agents showing their home to strangers, habits such as these put them in even greater danger. Here are some tips below to help keep your home safe at any time of the year.
Maintain your property. Especially in the winter, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as pool cleaning or an overgrown garden. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and an easy target. Making sure your mail and promotional leaflets are removed and having the home maintained in a timely manner will signal that the property is occupied.
Know your neighbours. Many people don’t really know their neighbours. Knowing them is more than just saying hello and waving. Invite them over to see your property before it goes on the market. Introduce them to the people they will see regularly stopping by such as your estate agent. This way, they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your property and can better assess when there may be a problem while you’re gone.
Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the front and face your house then, ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s a window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a burglar will get in. Think like a criminal for a minute, and then address the issues that come to mind.
Use the power of lighting. Thieves are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. A property that is well-lit at night is a deterrent because criminals don’t want attention or the potential of being caught. It’s a good idea to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. Some ideas are dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. Use caution when leaving your outside lights on at all times though as this signifies the property might be unoccupied for an extended period of time.
Use technology to make your home look lived in. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances can help you. Although not considered smart-home technology, simple lamp timers which are available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
A simple reminder to ALWAYS lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe enough neighbourhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Even in Paphos, we should always lock doors and windows. In the majority of burglaries, the criminals simply access the home through an unlocked front or back door or window.
Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Make sure you have a solid door jam and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. A good locksmith can tell you what your best options are.
Invest in an alarm or a siren. Burglars are usually in and out in a few minutes, and even though they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly when neighbours hear an alarm they will look. This gives you a witness to the crime which is a concern for the burglar and gives you a good chance of them being caught. An external siren is invaluable, whether it is a part of a monitored security system or a Do it Yourself alarm.
Consider surveillance cameras. There are now high tech devices such as a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view outside their door on their smartphone! However, if you are on a budget or not tech-savvy you can get a fake security camera with blinking lights that look real and can be just as effective. If you don’t have an alarm as mentioned above or camera, you could always invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
Mark your valuables and record details. You can use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings so you can show police. These simple steps can help you reclaim recovered belongings and might stop them from being resold or pawned.