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Over the last year, the amount of dog thefts from a home properties has skyrocketed. It is thought that the lockdown has increased the demand for puppies and dogs, and they are being stolen to order. With people working from home, many decided it was a great time to add a pet to their family, which has led to increased breeding rates and puppies and older dogs being taken and sold on for money. In some areas, the number of crimes related to stealing dogs from home or outside in public spaces has increased by over 100%. So, how can you protect your home and ensure that the risk of your dog being stolen is minimised?
Visual Deterrents for home security
Firstly, good lighting on the outside of your property is a great way to deter burglars. In order to break in, they have some work to do, assuming you have locked up to your house well, which we will cover later, and it is easier for them to do this under cover of darkness.
Having motion sensor lights that come on when they detect movement will make it much harder and make the thieves think again. However, dawn-to-dusk lighting is far more effective and recommended.
Secondly, obvious CCTV cameras and signs that confirm the property is protected by CCTV also help. Should this not prove the deterrent you have hoped for, you will also have footage of anyone acting suspiciously and breaking into the property.
Fences and Gates
You need to secure your garden with good fences and barriers where possible. Most pet owners do this anyway, as it means your dog can safely play in your enclosed garden with no danger of escaping. Fences cannot be any taller than two metres; otherwise, you would need to seek planning permission but provided they are sturdy and robust, this is entirely high enough.
It would help if you also made sure that any gated entrances are lockable, as this makes it much harder for anyone to break in.
Another smart trick people have started using is ensuring that pathways and driveways are made of gravel. It is almost impossible to cross gravel without making a noise, and can alert the homeowner or even the dog inside to the fact that someone is accessing the property. The same could also apply to wind chimes across the back gate, so if someone should breach the lock and open the gate, they would cause the wind chimes to jangle and provide an audible deterrent.
Cat Flaps and Keys
Many dog owners also enjoy the company of cats, and this means they may have a dog or cat flap on the property.
These are really convenient for your animals to get in and out without you having to get up and down all the time, but they also provide a security breach. A standard-sized cat flap is too small for someone to crawl through, but if it is on a door that has a key hanging out of the lock above, then thieves can use the cat flap and push the key to freedom, allowing them to pick it up and unlock the door from the outside.
Larger dog doors have become popular, but, in this case, you are creating an issue overnight. Many come with a board that is used on the inside to seal the cat flap and is quite hard to open from the outside, but if you have to have one of these, it is worth considering the security implications. In that case, this could potentially be an excellent place to have one of your CCTV cameras either internally or externally monitoring the cat flap.
On the subject of spare keys, never hide a spare key; you can get security boxes protected by passcodes if you need to leave a key available for a child or carer or another member of the family to access the property. It is no longer safe to leave a spare key under the mat, a rock, or a plant near the door.
Windows are another obvious way for a thief to enter your property, so if you plan to leave your pet at home, be sure to close the windows before you leave. In the summer, leaving pets in a room with fewer windows will ensure they don’t overheat, and it is better than risking their safety by leaving a window open.
Thieves will try and use windows and doors that do not face the road or other people, so these are the ones to concentrate on. If you sleep with the window open in the summer and are on the ground floor but facing a road, thieves are going to think twice anyway because it is a very obvious break-in. If you are home, windows are less of a threat but be sure to close them if you go out. Overall, your pet is safer inside your home when you go out rather than being taken with you and left in a car or tied up outside a shop, which is a massive no-no.
The sales pitch for a Ring video doorbell, one of the most popular on the market, is ‘there is always someone at home. Generally, thefts carried out in broad daylight see the thief ring the doorbell is home before attempting the break-in. The Ring doorbell and others like it work with a mobile phone and alert the homeowner to the fact that someone is at the door. It doesn’t matter where the homeowner is providing; they have an Internet connection.
Using the software provided, the homeowner can speak through the doorbell giving the impression that they are inside the house and putting off any potential thieves. Not many people will risk breaking in once they have confirmed the homeowner is aware of their presence. You also have extra video footage because the doorbell records all interactions.
A strong, secure box in the loft is one of the best places to hide your jewellery and similar valuables. To start with, this is out of everyday sight from visitors and bogus callers, and secondly, because it takes too long to go up and get the stuff, a burglar won’t bother.
And finally, there is always the chance they will get trapped up there if you come home.
The ADT website has more tips on hiding your valuables
If you bring in professional workmen such as plumbers or electricians etc, then make sure you do your homework, or they have come via a reliable source.