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How To Up Your Home’s Security Game

The high profile break-in of Hong Kong’s Billionaire Tycoon’s Cheng Yu-Tung (founder of real estate investment firm New World Development and jewellery chain Chow Tai Fook) splashed across front page news when the unfortunate incident happened earlier this month. The news came after a string of other high-profile burglaries that took place in the area recently and it is only one of the many targeted areas in Hong Kong to have been ransacked by burglars who seem to be becoming increasingly active over time. Last month, the victim was a local businesswoman who had valuables worth of HK $100,000 stolen from her house on The Peak. Both of these break-ins happened in the dead of night, the most opportune time for criminal activities to take place.Scarily, these are not the only reported burglaries in the city. Rewinding a couple of months back, another break-in orchestrated by three burglars escaped with valuables worth up to HK $250,000 from another house on The Peak. Police investigations reported that there have been at least 11 break-ins on The Peak in just this year alone, and 157 reported burglaries on Hong Kong Island, which is already a 25 percent rise from last year.  

It begs us to question just how safe our own homes are if even such highly secured homes can be successfully broken in to. Our home is meant to be a haven where we feel safe and at peace, but how can we if our hearts are fraught with fear that intruders can waltz in at anytime and put our lives at risk? 

Safety is everything. What are the ways we can discourage such incidents from happening to us? There are tools we can employ to lower our risk of becoming victims of residential break-ins that don’t necessarily have to involve turning your home in to Iron Man’s state of the art fortress. There are many solutions that require no costs at all - read on to learn how to protect your home life from becoming the next target.

 Hong Kong
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Be Modest

When you flaunt, you immediately make yourself a target. We aren’t saying that you need to live like a homeless person, but don’t be a show-off about your valuables. Burglars (at least the smart ones) act with intent, they don’t just break in to any home they feel like depending on their mood. Most burglaries are executed by a team of people, not one single person. Think“Tower Heist”, “Ocean’s 11”, “The Italian Job”, or any other heist movies.Smart burglars think economically, they pick the target that will give them the most return in investment (of their time and the risks that they are putting themselves in to through this criminal activity). If neighbours and strangers are able to walk by your home and immediately know that you have money,you can be sure that skilled and experienced burglars already have their sights set on you.Don’t leave your latest auction-won art sculpture outside of your front door to show off your proud conquests to your guests. If you have a habit of leaving your latest flashy automobiles out for the world to see, learn to cover them up.It’s common sense really - don’t leave your expensive properties out flaunting about and you significantly lessen your chances of being burgled. If people don’t know that you have valuable belongings, they won’t think to steal from you. Simple, right? Surprisingly, most people tend to believe that they are safer than they really are - that is until they become the victims of a break-in. Maybe you are not aware that you are showing off too much, which is fair because we have every right to trust that our home is a place of security.Unfortunately, in the world that we live in today, safety is not a granted luxury and constant vigilance is important. Take a look around your home to see  if you have a number of expensive items out in plain sight. Can people from outside of your home easily do a quick calculation of how much you are worth just from taking a glance through your windows? If so, you might want to consider redecorating your place to move the more eye-catching items  to another area within your home. We aren’t saying that you need to lock all of your valuables in a vault and live like you own nothing, just be modest and discreet about it, for your own sake.

Play Tricks With Burglars 

No, we aren’t telling you to physically engage with burglars and play the game of cat and mouse. Not literally at least. Experienced burglars like the ones reported from the high profile break-ins are experienced con artists in their own right, so if you want to lessen your chances of becoming one of their victims, you must learn how to outsmart them. Most burglaries don’t happen in broad daylight under watchful eyes of witnesses or when the resident is home because well…that wouldn’t be too smart now would it? If burglars can tell that someone is home, they probably won’t attempt to break in. Now you’re probably thinking,”Heck, I can’t be home all the time to insure that I won’t be burgled! That’s impossible!” You’re absolutely right. We can’t be home around the clock, we have work responsibilities and daily life activities to carry on with.

This is where we learn to outsmart the people outside of our homes.Whenever you leave your house or apartment, adapt the habit of creating an illusion that someone is still at home. An easy way to do this is by leaving on some lights by doorways and windows, leaving the television on loud, playing an extended playlist from your Spotify, or all of the above options at the same time. Sure, they might burn up a little more of your electricity and up your monthly bills slightly but there are ways around that too. You can easily invest in some energy saving lightbulbs that last longer and are eco-friendly, and these won’t take a toll on your overall expenses. 

A further measure you can take is by installing a home security system around your place, and making sure that there is one in plain sight outside of your main door and backdoor should any unwanted guests wander around.Even if your security system is not turned on, it will act as a caution to scare them off. It’s not guaranteed that skilled burglars won’t simply deactivate the system or test out whether it’s actually active, but it would buy you some extra time. Anything that you can do to deter them you should because every second counts. Any additional time you take away from them will give you,witnesses and the police more time to act. 

Don’t Be A Cliché 

You’ve all seen the movies and TV shows where people leave a spare house key underneath their welcome mat or somewhere near the front door of the house. Don’t do that.

Everyone knows this trick already so don’t be a cliché! It may seem like a brilliant idea to leave a spare key hidden in case you get locked out of your house, but that’s basically an open invitation to be burgled. You may as well put a sign on your door that says “Please come in and steal my stuff”. If someone wants to find a way in to your house, the first thing they will do is probably dig around the proximity for clues on how to enter without the use of force. It’s not hard to find hidden objects since there’s only so many places one can hide things outside of the home. If you must leave a spare key for safekeeping, then give one to a trusted neighbour (not just any neighbour), a good friend who lives in the neighbourhood or someone in your family.

Another good tip to keep in mind is to never put any sort of identification on your house keys - no street address, house number, phone number, your name or any pieces of information that can be traced back to you. With the help of technology these days, anyone who finds your keys can easily trace them back to your home and break in if they want to.

Build An Alliance With Your Neighbours 

Power in numbers. There is nothing as powerful as when a group of people work together on the same mission. Getting to know your neighbours is an underrated weapon against burglars and criminal suspects, but if more people utilised this safety tactic, there would probably be lesser break-ins.There are much fewer residential break-ins in close-knit neighbourhoods because people look out for each other, and strangers who are seen creeping around the area will raise red flags immediately. You are more likely to help a friend than you are to help a stranger, so make the effort to become friends with your neighbours, it’s always helpful to have more allies. Even if you are not home, or away for an extended period of time, your neighbours can step in to keep a watchful eye on your home while you are gone. If you live in a neighbourhood that has frequent break-ins, think about getting all your neighbours together to create a watch program. Studies have shown that watch programs set up in neighbourhoods effectively reduce crime and violence. Even if you live in a building, you can get to know the people on your floor or join in on community gatherings. No war has ever been fought by a single person, so join forces with the people around you and raise awareness to combat neighbourhood crime.

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Don’t Become Too Predictable 

It’s rest assuring to know that there’s people in your community watching out for your home safety, but you must not rely too much on that alone. Call us paranoid, but the only person you can really trust with 100% certainty is yourself. You can control your behaviour and actions, but not other people’s.You can be friends with people in your community, but don’t be to trusting with everyone until that right is earned. Keep the little details of your life and daily routines to yourself. When you become predictable, people can use your routine to their advantage, i.e. ransack your house when you are away. No matter how much you like your new neighbours, keep certain matters of your life private. Even if people don’t intentionally want to harm you, there will always be human errors. They might be talking to someone (a burglar pretending to be a new resident to gather intel) and accidentally let slip that you are away for the entire month of September, or that you are never home from 9AM - 8PM due to your intense work schedule. You never know what can happen and you can never be too careful.

Keep your routines unpredictable and keep the details of your life private as much as you can, especially if you live in a large community where it’s impossible to know each and every single person who passes by.

Lock Your Home

Well duh! Does this even need to be said? Unfortunately, it does. Although it seems like common and logical sense to lock up your home whenever you leave, a lot of people forget to do so! This is not uncommon because its so easy to forget to do things when you are in a rush or when your mind is occupied with other matters. The good thing is that most doors nowadays will self-lock as soon as the door shuts, but not all homes have this mechanism,so always double check (triple and quadruple check if you have to) and make sure that you lock the doors every time you step out.

Another silly mistake people make is by entering their home but still leaving their house key inserted in the door. Tons of people have become victims of burglaries, violence and even rape because of this one mishap. It’s not hard to spot a dangling key jammed in the doorknob, and if you are unlucky, the wrong person will be able to enter your home without the slightest use of force. Luckily, some buildings have security teams that do patrols on each floor at various times of the day through to the night to make sure that residents don’t make silly mistakes like this. Even so, can you fully trust every security guard who works in your building and neighbourhood? If you are a woman (men should do this as well), implement the habit of latching your door front the inside and never leave windows unlocked. 

Pay attention to what your doing and be present. Don’t fiddle with your phone and try to multitask if you are an already clumsy and absentminded person.Always confirm that you have secured your home before leaving and entering.

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Engel & Völkers
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