It’s not always possible to make your home or business an impregnable fortress to keep criminals out.
But there are steps, often simple and inexpensive ones, to make your property a less desirable candidate for a break-and-enter.
That was the message from Richmond RCMP Const. Barry Edwards Wednesday as he conducted a security assessment of the parish centre and church building at St. Alban Anglican Church.
It’s a service the RCMP offers to local property owners in an attempt to cut down on break-and-enter incidents.
As Edwards toured the 50-plus-year-old facilities at the parish offices, he pointed out areas where security upgrades would make the building a harder target for thieves to hit.
For example, applying security film, which is a thin polyester sheet, to the panes of glass flanking the main entrance way would slow down a break-in and provide more time for the police to respond after an alarm is raised.
Edwards said when thieves notice security upgrades such as that, it will often deter them since the attempted break-in would require greater effort.
The suggestions came as the church opened a drop-in centre in the parish last October, which is open to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Edwards said the security assessment is a licence requirement due to the change in the building’s usage.
“The (drop-in centre) caters to all types of clientele and is open to everyone,” Edwards said, adding that can provide issues of personal security to the facility’s staff.
To address that specific issue, there are a number of more expensive, high-tech options, such as closed circuit TV coverage of the rooms and hallways, right on down to “shoestring budget” solutions, like making sure the surrounding landscaping is trimmed to a low level, allowing clear sight lines when entering and exiting the buildings.
Edwards added that even routine maintenance, done on a regular basis, can also discourage criminals targeting a property.
“If you show ownership, that shows you are responsible and that you are going to take care of what you own,” he said. “And others will start to respect that.”
One example is to remove graffiti as quickly as possible.
And when it comes to securing doors, sturdy deadbolt locks with protective anti-pry plating can help prevent break-ins.
Much of what the church’s drop-in centre can do to make it more secure is easily transferable to regular homeowners, Edwards said.
And part of that is good communication with neighbours who can act as another set of eyes and ears if suspicious activity occurs.
“What they want to do is make the criminal look for a less desirable target.”
Margaret Cornish, reverend at St. Alban, said the inspection provided plenty of good suggestions to make the facility more secure.
“We have to do our utmost to make things safe for our wonderful staff and volunteers who help run our programs,” she said.
In addition to the drop-in centre, the church offers an extreme weather shelter that can house 19, and a community meals program that over the past 15 years has welcomed a turn out of around 170 people once a week for a warm meal.
“And that’s been done with very few incidents over the years,” Cornish said.
For more information on how to improve security of your property, visit richmond.ca/homesafety.
And to start a Block Watch crime prevention program in your neighbourhood, visit richmond.ca/blockwatch, or call 604-713-2340.