Student homes

Tips for keeping burglars away during summer

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Because they’re often left unattended during the summer, student homes are susceptible to burglary.

Campus Community Police Service and the Housing Mediation Office spoke to The Gazette and offered Western advice on summer home security.

“The main objective for students leaving an empty house behind this summer is to ensure that the house has an occupied appearance,” said Elgin Austen, director of CCPS.

Austen said a “lived-in look” will likely prevent burglaries and other dangerous activity from occurring while tenants are away.

He added the occupied appearance can be achieved if someone checks the house regularly and if lights and alarms are on a timed schedule.

Austen said it’s important for students to have a good relationship with future neighbours before leaving a vacant house behind. This way, students have someone to contact over the summer to help monitor their property.

“If possible, have roommates come up every few weeks to check up on the property,” said Glenn Matthews, Western’s Housing Mediation officer.

Both Austen and Matthews said students must have a plan for keeping their property clean " whether they have a landlord or not.

“Make sure the grass is cut,” Matthews said. “If the blades are over eight inches, the city can come in, cut the grass and send the tenant a bill.

“Student houses are often targeted by ‘smart thieves,’” he added. “Don’t leave electronic equipment in the house and refrain from putting flags in the windows.”

Matthews also said students should ensure newspapers aren’t lying around the property.

“Cancel subscriptions [over the summer months],” Austen said. “If you have a vehicle that is not being used, try parking it in the driveway.”

As most burglaries occur through houses’ back entrances, Matthews suggested paying particular attention to all doors.

“Some people take a board, hook it under the doorknob and wedge it. This makes it difficult to enter the house.”

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