For kids, Halloween is a chance to indulge their sweet-tooth and their imagination as they escape the everyday. For homeowners, worries of theft and vandalism can put a damper on the night, especially when it falls on a weekend as it does this year. By following a few simple home security tips this Halloween, you can take the scare out of your night.
1. Maintain the appearance that you’re home, even if you’re not
Opinion is mixed on whether crime rates actually spike on Halloween, a night synonymous with mischief. Some jurisdictions in Canada and the United States report higher-than-normal incidents of burglaries, property damage and other crime on October 30 and 31, while others claim it’s business as usual.
Remember that the anonymity afforded by costumes, darkness and busy streets makes it easy for criminals to blend in as they survey the neighbourhood for potential targets.
What is clear is that the unique conditions of Halloween are ideal for would-be thieves and vandals. If you’ll be out partying this Saturday evening, take extra steps to ensure your home doesn’t become a target.
Darkened homes tend to stick out, telling criminals that nobody’s there (or that you hate Halloween). You can create the appearance of an occupied house by leaving a light on or setting timers to turn them on automatically as night falls.
Remember that the anonymity afforded by costumes, darkness and busy streets makes it easy for criminals to blend in as they survey the neighbourhood for potential targets. If you do have a home security system, don’t forget to arm it before going out (despite the obviousness of this advice, it’s easy to get swept up by the enthusiasm of getting dressed for Halloween and forget the simplest of tasks).
Criminals are also increasingly tech-savvy, so be sure not to advertise your plans on social media if you’ll be away from home.
2. Make full use of outdoor lighting
Whether you’re home or not, it’s a good idea to double-check your outdoor lighting to make sure everything is working properly. In addition to keeping trick-or-treaters safe, a well-lit property will remove potential hiding spots for vandals or burglars. The sacrifice of spookiness might offend your inner child, but the added sense of security will be worth it.
Motion-sensor lighting is a popular feature of home security systems today and can be particularly handy on Halloween.
3. Double-check all windows and doors
Even traditionally safe neighbourhoods can be at risk on Halloween, given the sheer volume of people walking the streets at night. Double-check windows and doors—and any other entry points to your home—to make sure they’re closed and securely locked.
Consider, too, that you may be distracted by ghouls, goblins and superheroes at the front door; securing your home’s access points will provide added peace of mind while you’re handing out candy.
You can also help deter thieves by keeping valuables out of plain sight and using window coverings.
4. Lock up sheds, garages and outbuildings
Although your home will capture the majority of your attention, don’t forget about your garage, shed or any other outbuildings. Perform a quick check in the daylight to ensure everything is fully secured and protected against break-ins.
A simple padlock will usually be enough to secure a shed, but you can go a step further with a cut- and pull-resistant lock. Hardened, stainless steel even defends against drilling, while a special program prevents unauthorized duplication of keys.
5. Keep a clean yard
A clean yard is something to strive for all year round, but especially on Halloween. Store any ladders, tools or other equipment in a secure place to discourage break-ins or vandalism.
In doing so you’ll also create a safer space for trick-or-treaters, and remove any obstructions that would make it tougher to monitor your yard from the house.
6. Don’t forget about your car
If you have to park your vehicle on the road or in the driveway, take a few basic steps to deter thieves. Apart from locking it, be sure to remove any valuables, or at the very least hiding them from sight.
Park in well-lit areas that you can clearly see from the house. If video surveillance is part of your home security system, make sure that at least one security camera is fixed on you vehicle.
Accidental damage is an unfortunate part of Halloween. You can minimize the risk of trick-or-treaters inadvertently scratching your car in the driveway by leaving a generous path to the front door. Also take a moment to clear walkways, steps and the porch of potential hazards such as wet leaves.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a home security system to get peace of mind this Halloween. A few well-chosen products and a little common sense can do the job.