Make it harder for that burglar

THE car starts and you are driving down the road, when something in the back of your mind says "did I close the garage door"?

Welcome to my world. We all lead busy lives these days, with so much on our plate and so much technology to help us, or is it just a distraction?

It's easy to forget the simple things in life and we tend to lose focus on what is important, like family.

I like to keep my family safe and secure. With that comes the security of the family home, and what can be done to eliminate risks of people wanting to break in and steal from you and your house.

Having spent 10 years in the police force, you get to see the good and bad side of people.

But one thing for sure is that you quickly realise what bad people are capable of and how they go about it.

I suppose it changes your perception of what life is like on the dark side.

For instance, have you ever had someone knock on your door and ask, "have you seen my dog"?

Ah, that old chestnut!

There was a young bloke on a scooter, knocking on doors along University Way, asking if anyone has seen a dog.

Beware, he is a burglar, seeing if anyone is home. I had the police knock on my door to inform me.

Most people would think nothing of it and say, "no I haven't", end of conversation, end of story, move on. Not quite.

You see if you didn't answer the door, there's a good chance that person would be sizing your place up as his next place to break into.

Be politely suspicious

Everyone has consent to approach your house, but it pays to be politely suspicious of strangers knocking on your door, even more when I have a "no door-to-door traders" sticker. But that's a whole different story for another time.

Anyway, in the instance that I described above, a more suitable response to a person who has "lost their dog" might be to ask these questions:

1. What does your dog look like?

2. Does he live in this street?

3. In case I see him, where do you live?

4. If I find him, what's your name and how can I contact you?

Don't get me wrong, there is a small chance the person may be legitimate, but usually people who are looking for their lost dog, don't stop to knock on people's doors. They'll ask someone in the street already. Someone who is genuine would most likely not stumble and offer the answers to these relevant questions. If the person doesn't pass this little test, there is something else you should do.

1. Take a description of this person

2. Note the time, date and what they said

3. Call Police Link on 131 444 (there is even an app for that too), Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or your local police station and report the incident.

There are also many other scenarios to watch out for, such as "I'm looking for a friend of mine, his name is ... does he live here?"

It does not hurt to inform Crime Stoppers, and your information may form part of a bigger picture of suspicious people operating in your area.

This is why community groups such as Neighbourhood Watch are very important, as it helps residents become aware of what is happening around them.

Some other commonsense tips that I have are:

1. Don't leave the front door unlocked

2. Don't leave the garage door up when no one is in there

3. Invest in good quality security screens and doors

4. Lock your car when unattended

5. Don't leave items of value out the front, such as bicycles

6. Install sensor floodlights

7. When you are in the backyard, make sure the front of the house is secured

It takes a professional thief about 30 seconds to enter your home, look for valuables and money they can carry away, then leave just as quick, even when you are home. So don't give them an open invitation with an unsecured opening from the street.

One last piece of advice, invest in technology.

IP camera

It doesn't cost a lot, in fact you can pick one up for less than $100.

These brilliant little gadgets are small cameras that wirelessly connect to your wi-fi router and offer real protection as a deterrent, as well as capturing evidence should something go wrong. Just plug them in, connect and presto.

Most will capture six images of something that is moving in front of them, then email you as an alert when activated.

They can be set up to capture video as well.

But I like them for other reasons too.

When a burglar realises he's on candid camera, it's too late as the image has already been emailed so there is no point in pulling the plug. Caught.

Make sure you use those little CCTV stickers as a warning, they are an inexpensive deterrent.

Best of all, with an IP camera, you can remotely log into your live camera via the internet using the manufacturer's app.

I have one at the front door, back of the house and one inside (which is activated when I go away on holidays).

Thankfully, the only footage I have caught is of monster flying bugs, and the neighbour's cat doing his business in my backyard, which has been an interesting conversation starter.

Wi-fi connected lighting

Just like an IP camera, LED lights can be wi-fi-enabled. The starter kit is not cheap, around $250 and it comes with a connection bridge to your router, and three LED globes. They are seriously cool though, because when not in use as security lighting, the 16 million colour combination offers mood lighting at Christmas time or disco lights for parties which can change to a beat and run from an app.

When my house is left vacant I can run the lights to an IFTTT recipe (you'll have to Google that whole new world) which is internet-enabled through an app.

So they will all switch on and off at random times over an extended period of time, just like someone is home.

If I forget to set them, no problems, I can still do that remotely via the app, and even check if they are on via my IP camera.

How cool is that?

By now you are probably thinking, this guy is security crazy and paranoid.

Well I can tell you that I'm far from it. I do these things so that I can rest easy.

Drugs and crime are a problem in our society and there are desperate people in all areas and suburbs, who will do almost anything illegally to gain cash and valuables to feed their habits.

The trick is to stay alert and stay ahead of the game.

There are plenty more security tips the professionals can offer you, and if someone really wants to get into your house, they can and they will with various methods.

Make it harder for a thief, not easier and at least give them a reason to avoid your place.

Trust me, they will move on to the next place which is an easier target.

Now, did I leave that garage door open or not?

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