Terrace, B.C. homeowner catches youth inside bedroom

RCMP say people need to lock their doors and windows at night

  • Aug. 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.

TERRACE RCMP say a youth was caught inside a house early this morning by one of its residents, and was released from custody on numerous conditions arising from similar incidents.

Some of those incidents stemmed from a concentrated series of break-ins which began Aug. 14, and some concerned previous break-ins, said RCMP Constable Angela Rabut.

There have been five break-ins since Aug. 14 and at the fifth the youth was apprehended, she said.

“A couple woke up to find an intruder in their bedroom [at 4 a.m.]. The intruder attempted to flee but the husband was able to catch and subdue the intruder after a struggle,” said Rabut, adding that officers responded swiftly in order to make an arrest.

“Thankfully, no one was hurt,” she said.

Rabut cited federal youth identity legislation in not revealing the gender of the arrested youth.

While she said the detachment was satisfied an arrest had been made, the youth was not connected to at least one of the break-ins.

That has caused the detachment to warn residents to lock their windows and doors at night.

Too often, said Rabut, entry is easily gained through unlocked windows and doors.

“Anything that is small and easy to carry away,” said Rabut of items sought by thieves.

“Electronics are a huge thing. Jewelry is a huge thing. Cash is a huge thing. Booze,” she said.

The break-ins took place in both Terrace and Thornhill neighbourhoods.

Below is a series of tips from the RCMP.

Top 10 Simple Ways to Discourage Break-ins

Don’t Showboat.

Leaving certain things lying around your yard or in plain sight from the road can unwittingly lure thieves onto your property like frantic bargain hunters to a flea market. First, if you have a bicycle or scooter that someone could easy to walk away with, roll it inside or into your garage.

Also, after purchasing a new plasma screen television or other pricey electronics or appliance, don’t leave the box out beside the trash can or recycling bin.

That tells people you have something brand spanking new that could fetch decent dollars on the street. It may also leave them wondering what other goodies are inside your home. You may also be showing off too much to people walking by your house as well.

Open up your curtains, blinds or shades and stroll around the house and see what’s visible. If you have a number of expensive items within plain sight or near windows, think about doing a minor redesign to move them out of view.

Tricking Burglars.

If burglars can tell that someone is home, there’s a greater chance that they won’t attempt to break in.

Remember, more break-ins occur during the day when many people are at work. For that reason, when you leave the house, create an illusion that someone’s still there. You can leave a light on, along with music or your television for good measure.

Of course, if you’re going to be burning up that electricity by not turning off lights when you leave, make sure you’ve installed compact fluorescent bulbs that last longer and are better for the environment.

You can also mentally fake them out by putting a home security system sign in your yard. This won’t guarantee they won’t test out whether it’s valid, but it could deter them.

Secure Sliding Doors and Windows.

You can easily break into some older sliding doors by simply popping them off of their frame, even when locked. It’s harder to do that with newer ones, but you should still take extra precaution to secure them since they can be an inviting entry for burglars.

Simply take a strong dowel, steel bar or two-by-four and slide it into the back groove. That way, even if people can pick the lock, the rod stops the door from sliding back and opening.

Although you should always lock your windows before leaving the house, you can install a simple pin or nail into to the frame to stop it from raising more than a few inches.

This will add an additional layer of security in case someone pops off the screen and you have left the window unlocked.

If you have a wooden window frame, you can drill a hole at your desired height above the sash, where the top and bottom window meet. Then, insert a thick metal pin or a sturdy nail into the hole.

You can remove the stopper if you want to open the window completely and put it back in for security. Also remember to check window air conditioning units. If you can jimmy the window up from the outside, add a stopper to that frame.

Don’t Leave a Spare Key Out.

It may seem like a good idea to leave a spare key hidden under a flower pot or doormat in case you get locked out of your house. But that’s an open invitation for a burglar to walk inside without any difficulty.

Someone could also see you retrieve the key at some point, giving away your hiding place.

Instead, give a spare to a neighbor you know well or friend who lives nearby for safekeeping. Since most people now own cell phones, if you lock yourself out you can call for help or walk over to the person’s house.

You could also put the spare into a combination lockbox and hide that somewhere outside.

Remember to never put any identifying information on your house keys. If you lose them, and someone else finds them, it would be fairly easy to trace them back to your home and break in.

Secure Your Yard.

Tall shrubs and overgrown trees are welcome hiding places for criminals to wait until the coast is clear to get into your house.

That doesn’t mean you need to cut down every plant in your yard. Just keep things manicured. Low shrubs in front of windows remove additional covering for thieves if they attempt to break in through one.

Cut away any tall tree branches that reach upper story windows and protect against attacks from above. Regularly trimming larger bushes and tree branches also eliminates dark shadows that help hide intruders.

This type of security measure is referred to as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTD strategies aim to prevent crime by creating an outdoor environment that makes it difficult to pull off. Its four tenets are:

i) Natural surveillance — keep entryways to your home visible to prevent people from being able to sneak up.

ii) Territorial reinforcement — using landscaping and design to define your territorial space.

iii) Natural Access Control — adding hindrances to easily access your property. For instance, holly bushes or other thorny shrubs around your house.

iv) Target Hardening — structural security, such as deadbolts and double-paned windows.

You can implement these techniques in various combinations, depending on your property. It can also spruce up the appearance of your yard as an added bonus.

Get Police Help.

Police can help you stop crime before it happens, rather than just responding to it. For instance, if you’re leaving town for a while, let the police know and request that they drive by your property to check on things.

The Terrace RCMP Auxiliary program offers free CPTED evaluations for your property. Call the Terrace RCMP for more information.

Prepare Before Vacation.

Residential crime spikes during July and August as people set off on summer vacations.

As mentioned earlier, if you are going out of town for an extended period of time, call your local police and let them know. Also, alert neighbors you trust about your trip and ask that they keep an eye on your property during that time.

More importantly, when you leave town, don’t leave signs of an empty house. That will only make your house look like a giant bulls-eye to a thief.

First, if you have a home phone, don’t change your message to alert callers that you have left town.

Also avoid having piled up mail, overgrown lawns and newspapers strewn about your yard that send surefire signals you’re miles away. Have a friend house sit or at least pick up your mail and newspapers.

Ask them to move your car periodically to make it look like you’re still around. During the winter if you live in a cold weather climate, consider having someone shovel snow from your driveway. In the summers, arrange for someone to cut your lawn.

Know Your Neighbours.

Getting to know the people you live around is one of the most important safety steps you can take.

Close knit neighborhoods generally report fewer break-ins [source: Olsen] because strangers will stick out, and people are more likely to keep a casual eye on other people’s security. If you rent a house or apartment, you have more incentive to get to know your community because renters are 85 percent more likely to experience a break-in.

This may be because renters aren’t as likely to watch out for one another or have any sort of community watch program.

Stay Vigilant!

Although it’s nice to know you have people watching out for you in your neighborhood, you also need to watch out for yourself.

If you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing, you could unknowingly be rolling out a red carpet for a burglar to waltz through your front door.

While it ­may seem like a symptom of paranoia, keep your identity and any travel plans on the down low. For instance, only put your street address on your mailbox.

Give away your last name, and someone could find your phone number, work place and a host of other stats with a few mouse clicks.

Before you jet off to Bermuda, don’t talk about it openly in public because a sinister stranger could be taking note. Educate yourself as well about crime in the area.

Check the 24 hour news release in your local newspaper to see if your neighborhood has been hit. If you notice a lot of criminal activity, that’s your signal to pay extra attention to security. And always keep an eye out for suspicious activity in neighborhood. A little added effort can go a long way to protect your home and your safety.

Lock it Up.

As mentioned earlier, more than 40 percent of break-ins happen without the use of force. That means a lot of people are leaving their houses without locking the doors and windows.

If you have a thumb latch lock and a deadbolt on your doors, always lock the dead bolt. Double-check weaker doors such as patio and sliding ones to make sure their locks are strong enough to withstand kicks.

When you leave your home, don’t forget to lock up the door leading from the garage to inside. Even if your garage door is down, someone can easily open it. You may need to change your locks to stronger ones to keep out would-be burglars.

If you have information about crime contact the Terrace RCMP at (250)638-7400 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-800-222-TIPS, online at www.terracecrimestoppers.ca or by texting TERRACE plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES). If your information leads to an arrest you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2000.

NOTE: This story has been changed to correct an error in its original posting.


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