The Essentials of Securing your Home

Reading your local community’s social media page doesn’t always instill a sense of calm. Yes, there are heart-warming moments – a lost pet is found, or a neighbourly deed is done – but there are more combative goings on as well. Complaints about town planning issues or fights over street parking.

But the one event that stops almost every resident in their tracks is petty crime.

On any given day, neighbours are talking about suspicious characters wandering the streets and knocking on doors. According to the story posters, when these non-locals are challenged, they deliver a feeble excuse and then make a hasty retreat in search of their next mark.

Go too far down the social media rabbit hole of criminal yarns and you’ll be jumping at shadows. Anyone would think inner-Brisbane suburbs are a wasteland of people hiding in their homes and spying through the venetians at the suspicious goings on outside.

But it’s time to inject a little common sense into the discussion.

What are the actual crime statistics for our inner suburbs and how can you take steps to ensure your household and community remain safe without feeding the collective paranoia?

Crime stats

The My Police website is a wealth of statistical information. It shows that despite gossip around increased criminal activity, incidents in the Brisbane region have been steadily falling since 2019. This includes a 20.8 per cent drop in unlawful entry offences between 2019 and 2022.

The Queensland Police Service — Online Crime Map also allows us to look at the number of offences recorded in each suburb over a designated timeframe.

I looked at the unlawful entry offence numbers for the past 12 months. In Paddington there were 89 incidents of unlawful entry, Ashgrove had 98 and Bardon saw 52. If I compare this small sample of inner-west addresses to other suburbs such as Moorooka with 306, Strathpine with 72 and Chermside with 209, you’ll see we’re doing relatively well in terms of the figures.

The number of unlawful entry offences varied broadly but there’s certainly no indication that our inner-city suburban hotspots are any more prone to criminal activity than other suburbs across Brisbane.

But of course, there are steps you can take to make your home and community more secure. Here are some great suggestions for boosting security without becoming a victim of locking yourself in.

Plan to protect

Neighbourhood Watch is a great initiative. It provides a link between police and community and is a great way to get to know your neighbours. If you contact the local police, they can put you in touch with a nearby Neighbourhood Watch group.

A Police Officer once told an associate of mine that most break-in offenders want to avoid detection and confrontation. They want to sneak in, steal and then leg it out of there to avoid capture or a fight.

The Officer said, “Create barriers that make it more difficult for them to quietly go about their business.” Essentially, any element you can introduce to make their actions more challenging will help keep you and yours safe.

It can start with physical barriers such as locked gates and high fences. Even heavy use of shrubs around your boundary makes it challenging for fence jumpers to navigate a quiet and safe landing.

Then there are noise triggers. The officer suggested placing gravel down the side of your home. The crunch of footsteps is surprisingly loud in the dead of night and is sure to garner your attention. Flick on your light switch and expect them to scurry away.

Speaking of illumination, having well-placed sensor lights that are triggered by movement is an excellent strategy. In the same vein, garden ornaments that make noise via motion sensors are a great idea. It sounds funny, I know, but picking up an ornamental frog that “croaks” when someone walks past it is a cheap and effective move. Place it near a gate and you’ve got a 24 hour “Watch Frog”!

For pet owners of course there’s nothing better than a furry friend to alert you to unwanted activity. Best of all, a well-trained pooch in a secure back yard when you’re out of the house can be the best alarm system you’ll ever own. Boost their effectiveness with a couple of “beware of the dog” signs on your gates as well.

Alarm systems themselves have also come a long way in the past five years. For a very reasonable price you can set up blue-tooth accessible cameras that captures the action if someone tries to break in. The picture quality on these devices is incredibly good. Pair them with a security app on your smartphone and you can watch your property from anywhere in the world.

Some people use back-to-base 24-hour monitoring too. This can be expensive but if your property and anxiety levels warrant the cost, then it’s a move well worth considering.

As with your doggo, use signage to let an offender know they’re being watched by an alarm system. Stickers to that effect on doors and windows will help immensely. Having an obvious alarm box outside the home is great too – the sort that will trigger a loud siren and flashing light when needed.

Another common structural obstruction is to use security on doors and windows. Heavy mesh such as Crimsafe will be hugely helpful. I’ve also seen plenty of deadlockable heavy grille doors in our area that would need some serious hardware to break through. Just make sure you also have a well-practised fire escape plan in place if you use these sorts of barriers.

Windows can also be strengthened via smash-proof film. 3M Window Film is one brand I know of that will slow down any intruder with a hammer.

Speaking of windows and doors, I also suggest having visual impediments to stop robbers peeking through the glass and spotting your wallet or laptop sitting on the dining room table. Fluted glass, opaque window films or even just placing valuables out of view should help.

Keeping your home safe from intrusion doesn’t have to cost a lot. Best of all, many of the improvements not only deliver piece of mind, but also enhance property value. Just decide to make these additions before an intruder tries their luck instead of them being an imperative in the wake of a break-in.