Don’t leave “windows of opportunity” open for thieves this summer, warns BCAA Insurance

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BURNABY, BC, August 7, 2007 – While most of us are taking it easy this summer, thieves may be hard at work staking out their next smash ‘n’ grab. According to BCAA Insurance, summer is the peak time for burglaries and theft-related claims. Homeowners are urged to protect against intruders taking advantage of vacant homes, and windows being left open on warm days.

BCAA Insurance receives the highest proportion of theft-related claims in the summer, followed closely by the Christmas holiday season. The 10 most wanted items include: jewellery, digital cameras, home theatre equipment, iPods/MP3 players, CDs/DVDs, cash, gift certificates, video games, computer equipment, and tools.

“According to break-and-enter reports, most intruders enter from a garage door, an unlocked side door, or an unlocked side window,” says Brooke Hanson, BCAA home insurance manager. “In the summer, people tend to be casual and leave doors and windows open. Unless you have bars or inaccessible windows, BCAA recommends shutting all accessible doors and windows before heading out.”

Hanson also stresses the importance of taking time to safeguard your home before leaving on summer vacation. “In the flurry of getting ready for vacation, your home may be the last thing you think about,” adds Hanson. “Your goal should be to make it look as if you’re still there.”

Some key measures to safeguard your home include:

  • Get to know your neighbours. BCAA’s 2007 member opinion survey reveals that the most important thing government and communities can do to reduce property crime is to introduce more neighbourhood programs, like block watch. Ask your neighbours to pick up mail and flyers and place garbage in front of your house on regular collection days. Help out your neighbours as they do you.
  • Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar will go elsewhere. Dead-bolting window and door locks can slow
    down a burglar. You may also be eligible for certain discounts off your home insurance for installing these devices. Also consider planting thorny bushes below first-floor windows, and be sure they are close enough to the house so that an adult could not wedge behind one.
  • Make the house look inhabited. Leave blinds or curtains open in their usual position. Put indoor lights on a timer so that they go on and off at appropriate times. If you are going to be away for an extended period, arrange to have your lawn mowed and mail and newspapers picked up or held by the post office.
  • Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts a monitoring service to call the police, fire and other emergency services. Certain alarm systems could also provide substantial discounts off your home insurance.
  • Make sure you have strong doors. Even the best lock will not deter a burglar if it is installed in a weak door. Outside doors and frames should be made of metal or solid wood, fit in their frame securely, and include a peep hole so you can see who is on the other side. Garage doors also need strong locks. If you have a tool shed, keep it locked, since burglars can use the tools to break into your home.
  • Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. Do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk — burglars know to look for them there. Expensive jewellery should also be hidden somewhere other than the bedroom. Place these items in a lock box or safe somewhere else in the house.
  • Think about where you leave the keys. Don’t leave your garage-door opener in the car when it’s parked, especially if the car is going to be parked for several days, such as at the airport. Take it with you. If you are leaving your car at home, ensure that your car keys are put away. Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front or back door — burglars know all the usual hiding places.

About BCAA:

BCAA Insurance is one of the largest providers of home, auto, travel medical, and life insurance in B.C. BCAA insures over 100,000 homes in the province and receives an 80% total satisfaction rating with the overall claims process — 40% higher than the industry average. Each year, BCAA sells more travel insurance than any other provider in B.C. For more information, visit www.bcaa.com