I mention how much I love being a home inspector to the point you may wonder is there anything I don’t like about inspections. Yes, like any job it’s not always sunshine and roses, and at the top of that list is being in a homeowner’s personal space. I am aware that a house is not just a collection of drywall, wood, asphalt, and vinyl but a sanctuary from the rat race, a safe place to relax after a hard day and a place to make cherished family memories. I have developed an ability to look past personal belongings to the point you could leave a sack of money on the kitchen table and I would probably not even see it.
Unfortunately, not everyone has that ability, and some will actively try to illegally enter a home to remove said sack, commonly known as a burglar. Residential break-ins can happen anywhere and contrary to the stereotype of the masked man hiding in the shadows like a raccoon, many burglars can dress and act like someone who makes regular house visits, such as a delivery driver or an appliance technician. As well, most burglaries happen during the workday and almost never when the home is occupied.
Here are a few quick facts:
Check Hinges on Outward Swinging Doors
Most burglars are not going to forcefully break down a door or window as it attracts a lot of negative attention and will almost certainly get a call to the police from a neighbour. Criminals are looking for easy and quiet ways of entry and there is no easier way (other than unlocked doors) than with doors that swing outward. While they are usually in garages, I have seen them used on plenty of back doors and without modifications, they can be popped off within seconds even with a powerful deadbolt. Investigate to make sure a modification has been made (such as adding a screw) to make it much more difficult to remove if you have exterior doors that swing outside.
Cut Back Shrubbery
Not only is that a great idea from a moisture and pest point of view, but it is also a great way to cut back on potential hiding spots for burglars to access basement or ground level windows without being noticed.
Remember there is no stereotypical burglar look: in many cases they will disguise themselves as a new neighbour or a service person to not draw suspicion or attention. Like most honest service providers, I am highly identifiable as a home inspector representing Inside Edge with a uniform or company T-shirt, carry an InterNACHI ID card and drive a branded vehicle. I also protect my client's privacy and with only extremely rare life safety or legal exceptions do not discuss ANY of my findings with anyone.
While I hope you never have to deal with a theft from your home, it is always a good idea to make an inventory of your valuables. I include an Appliance Audit in spreadsheet format with every inspection and will be happy to provide you with a blank template for your personal use free of charge: just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be more than happy to pass it along. To quote what was said to me many years ago: "there is no need to live in fear but there are plenty of reasons to live with caution".