The entire family was asleep when intruders broke into our house. Trauma after a burglary is real. We felt violated and still have flashbacks.

We didn’t hear a thing—not the door opening, not any tinkering in the drawers, not even the garage door raising. 

I always imagined I’d hear someone if they were trying to break in. We didn’t know anything was wrong until the next morning when we went downstairs and discovered the garage door was wide open and our car was missing.

We slept through the entire burglary

Like most people, we never expected to be robbed but with the gift of hindsight, I know what fools we were for being so indifferent about home security. Our back door was carelessly unlocked the night it happened and we had no other protection measures in place before someone could access a back door. You could reach our house easily from all sides.

We had recently moved and believed we were living in a safe, quiet area and didn’t have to worry about security.

The thing is, there is real trauma after a burglary and I often have flashbacks thinking about what might have happened. It is extremely unnerving to know someone was in your house. There is a real sense of violation. Your mind immediately jumps to the what-ifs.

What if they had ventured into my daughter’s room?

What if we had woken up and disturbed them?

Our experience is not unique

Research from D&D Technologies reveals one in five Aussie families have had a security scare at their home, with 32 per cent saying the incident happened during the night while they were at home. What I found most surprising was that 75 per cent of people who had experienced a break-in did absolutely nothing about it.

This is a far cry from how our family handled the situation. We were desperate to feel safe again, so we took immediate steps to improve the level of security of our home. We engaged an expert to do an audit on the house. They looked at all our vulnerabilities and recommended ways to increase our security.

Some of the solutions were obvious, like lockable gates at the front of the house, but we also added fences and lockable gates around the back too. The police figured the burglars probably entered our property from the back, so now our yard is like a little fortress.

We also installed sensor lights, put in motion detectors, automated our garage to have mobile capability and welcomed a new family member: our beloved Teddy—our “alarm dog“, as we call him. He would certainly let us know if anyone came into the house uninvited. That is his job, day or night, friend or foe!

Changing the way I thought about security

While we made very practical changes to increase the security of our home, the whole experience really changed my mindset about keeping safe. It started with simple door checks each day and has developed into a system now. Whoever is the last to go to bed checks all the doors and locks, and we hide car keys and other valuables in places where burglars might not think to look.  

I also believe there should be a minimum standard of security that every home should have. Every home needs to meet basic building code regulations so why not basic standards of security? I think it’s a concept that really needs to be explored.

For example, thieves would surely be deterred by something simple like fences and locked gates, and they also protect kids and pets. It’s a win all round.

I also believe a vendor should be responsible for ensuring a house meets a security audit before it is sold, as new buyers aren’t aware of all the vulnerabilities. Just like a building and pest inspection, there should be a security audit. If the house has been a rental, all locks and garage pin access codes should be changed at the cost of the vendor.

Talk and meet with the people in your street and urge them to consider what they could do to protect the three Ps in their lives: People, pets and property.

I know firsthand the mental impact of a security breach and it does linger. So, do yourself a favour, don’t be lax about security. Act now. There’s so much you can do to protect your home and family. Simple prevention is key—a gate, a lock on a window.

A simple home security checklist

  • Keep foliage trimmed to ensure fewer hiding places for potential burglars.
  • Store wheelie bins and other items where they will not be used as leverage to reach higher home entry points.
  • Be vigilant about closing and locking doors and windows, and make sure your garage door closes completely before you drive off.
  • Upgrade to lockable gates at all access points in the yard and ensure they are locked.
  • Make it look like you are home when you are out. For example, leaving lights on, shoes by the front door or asking a neighbour to collect mail.
  • Don’t leave keys hidden outside or under a door mat, flowerpot or in a plastic rock. Thieves know where to look. Leaving spare keys with a trusted neighbour or a secure location is a safer option.
  • Secure gates, security cameras, sensor lights or a dog are all deterrents to would-be criminals. Prominent signage to advise of these factors would also be beneficial.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbours. Let them know if you see anyone suspicious around their property and they will do the same for you. Neighbourhoods are safer when we are looking out for each other.
  • Brush your teeth and check all your doors and windows before you go to sleep. One of the family could have just unlocked a door to get something, after you locked it hours before. It happens.

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