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Assessing your property for security

As a property owner, the responsibility of ensuring the safety of your family and animals is paramount. You already assess the structural and cosmetic integrity of your investment to identify areas that need repair or upkeep. So it makes sense that you should also assess the security vulnerabilities as well to prevent harm and loss from property crime.

The 2021 Canadian census reported that four of the five fastest growing metropolitan areas in Canada were in BC. Kelowna, Chilliwack, Kamloops, and Nanaimo. Kelowna, who saw the largest increase in population, is now dealing with a dramatic increase in crime. Growing 14% since 2016, Kelowna now has a population of more than 222,000. Recently, a dispute has arisen, between the Kelowna RCMP and BC Prosecution Service, regarding complaints that property crime and petty thefts are
going unaddressed as the city deals with a backlogs of cases.

In Kamloops, the hub of the central interior, residents were advised to check their vehicles before getting into them and smell for the tell tale signs that someone crawled under and drilled & drained the contents of their gas tank overnight. A crime that is happening on the street and in private driveways.

It doesn’t matter if you live in a busy urban centre or a remote rural acreage, theft is almost always a crime of opportunity and access. With so many areas of the province experiencing rapid growth, it is up to residents to take responsibility for securing their homes and property before they fall victim to property crime.

On April 28, 2022, the BC Legislative Assembly published a report titled; Transforming Policing and Community Safety in British Columbia. Chaired by Doug Routley, MLA, from Nanaimo-North Cowichan, the appointed review committee have recommended.

” Implementing a new Community Safety and Policing Act to govern the provision of policing and public safety services in the province. The committee also recommended we transition to a new BC provincial police service that is governed by the new Community Safety and Policing Act.”

While a new Provincial Police Force with a new mandate may be moving in the right direction the report also stated, “Implementing our recommendations and achieving this vision for community safety and policing will take many years and successive parliaments.”

So what can you do right now to make your home and property a safer place for your family and your valuables? The first step is to assess your property for points of security vulnerability. Ask yourself what do I have that is valuable and what are you worried about keeping in or keeping out?

Start by walking your property and the roads or alleys surrounding it, and examine it like a thief would, looking for opportune points of entry. You should do this in the daytime and at night, to get the perspective of what a thief might see on foot and from a vehicle. The harder it is for a thief to get onto your property, the less likely you are to experience a burglary or property crime. Opportunity is what most criminals look for, un-gated driveways, hedges around an unfenced border, gates without locks, ground floor windows, dark unlit areas that offer concealment.

Make a detailed list of the vulnerable areas that could facilitate unauthorized access and a plan to add security defences. Creating a map of your property gives you a birds eye view of the weak spots and allows you to visually evaluate the placement and cost effectiveness of different types of security measures. Like a chain, security is only as strong as its weakest link, so it is advised to layer your defences. A combination of perimeter fencing, security cameras, motion sensor lights, alarms, and locked & gated entry points ensure that if a perimeter is breached other security measures are in place.

If you are building a new home you have many more options to incorporate structural security into the layout & design. There is a resurgence in residential builds with secure compound fences. Compound fencing is not limited to the perimeter and architecturally can be made part of the dwelling itself to create smaller secure areas like driveways, courtyards and patios.

Compound fences can be costly because of their structural and materials, but they do create a grand visual, add prestige and an exterior face to your home. Pre-cast compound wall panels are now available in different styles, they are manufactured to slide into a post system, making the addition of a compound wall less costly and even more attractive.

It can be even harder to assess and make secure a large acreage, or remote recreational cabin or vacation home. A locked gate with a perimeter fence and No Trespassing signage are a good first deterrent, and you can put up trail cams and solar motion lights. But when a dwelling is remote and vacant for long periods of time a homeowner may need to make a decision to remove items of value when they are not there to mitigate theft risk.

Agricultural acreages like hobby farms or ranches have need to protect domestic animals and crops from wild animal predators. Ranchers keep large predators at bay with livestock guardian dogs and miles of 6 string electric perimeter fences that carry a jolt snappy enough to make even a large bear decide the other direction is best.

Electric fencing has many applications and should be a cost effective consideration. Even residential gardeners know how frustrating it can be to spend months nurturing fruit trees and vegetables only to have them destroyed overnight by hungry deer or moose. And, just like a ranch, any property can benefit from having a faithful canine family member with a keen nose and a loud bark.

In conclusion, don’t forget to ask your home insurance provider if installing a security system or other security measures on your property will reduce your insurance premiums and what recommendations they make for optimizing your loss protection.

Taking a day to conduct a security assessment that will help you mitigate future problems and losses is well worth your time. Think of it as due diligence for peace of mind, a pro-active approach that will protect your loved ones and your investments.

Freddy & Linda Marks, 3A®Group RE/MAX Nyda Realty

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