By: Sonia Bell
When searching for a new home, a safe neighbourhood with a low crime rate is typically among the top items on a homebuyer's list of must-haves. The safer the neighbourhood, the better -- especially for families with young children. While it is important to take into account an area's overall crime rate, which includes all types of crime, we thought we'd boil it down to strictly breaking and entering. By doing this, we were able to determine where your house may be at the highest risk of getting burglarized.
It's important to note that many of the residential neighbourhoods on this list are not necessarily riddled with crime. In fact, some of these neighbourhoods are generally safe and sought-after areas within their respective cities -- which is a potential reason why they have become targets for breaking and entering.
This list is exclusively based on crime rates, which were calculated based on the number of break and enter occurrences in relation to the neighbourhood's population. This was then multiplied by 1,000 to get the crime rate per 1,000 people. Due to this methodology, many of the neighbourhoods that appear on this list have a relatively low number of incidences of breaking and entering, but due to their small population, have higher rates. A good example is the University neighbourhood in Toronto. At first glance, in comparison to its other neighbourhood counterparts, University didn't experience a ton of break and enter occurrences -- 75 in total. However, its population of 7,750 (according to the City of Toronto 2011 census) propelled the crime rate, making it one of the most likely areas for breaking and entering.
And this works both ways -- a neighbourhood may have a high number of break and enter occurrences, but their high population offsets this, making the crime rate lower than other neighbourhoods in the city. For example, there were a reported 109 residential and commercial break-ins in Willowdale East, a popular neighbourhood in Toronto that has experienced considerable growth over the years, becoming a condo developer's haven. Willowdale East has one of the highest number of occurrences in Toronto, vastly outnumbering other neighbourhoods -- but with Willowdale East's population of more than 45,000 people, its break-in rate was considerably lower than other Toronto neighbourhoods.
Another notable example is Bedford-Nortown. This Toronto neighbourhood had more than double the amount of break and enter occurrences than the neighbourhood that came in at number one in the Toronto market. However, due to its population of more than 23,000, it barely cracked the top three on the list.
So without further ado, here are some of the top residential areas that sit high on a burglar's hit list. If you aspire to invest in a home in one of these areas, perhaps you should invest in an alarm system, too.
*Methodology: crime rates were based on the number of crime occurrences provided by the local police department and divided by the neighbourhood's population (retrieved from the City of Toronto census data)
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As tempting as it is to brag about your week-long trip to the Bahamas to all of your friends and followers, it can also make your home a target for burglars. There have been instances where robbers actually used Facebook to determine when homeowners were away, allowing them to plot the perfect times to burglarize their homes.
Knowing your neighbors (and trusting them) will ensure that there's always an extra set of eyes on your house. When you're away, ask them to bring your newspaper in so it looks like someone is home collecting it. They can also look out for any suspicious activity and notify the police if there does seem to be any fishy activity while you're gone.
Even if your dog would never hurt a fly, having one that will at least bark at an intruder might deter him or her from entering your home. Don't want a dog? Put up a "beware of dog" sign anyway. Just the threat of Fido might be enough to intimidate and make a burglar think twice.
Throwing out the box for your new flat-screen TV on the curb lets everyone passing by know that you have a brand new flat-screen TV mounted on your wall. Don't tempt burglars with your pricey possessions--break down packaging and place it inside the garbage can instead of displaying it out in the open.
Prune back shrubbery to eliminate potential hideouts for thieves. If there is nowhere for them to lurk, you'll make it harder for them to hang around waiting for you to leave. Plus, overgrown foliage gives burglars a way to conceal themselves as they escape. Running across an empty, open yard is much less appealing.
Motion-sensored lights outside your home are a great deterrent for burglars. They'll definitely be a little put off when they suddenly are standing in bright lights as they approach your house, completely visible to you and anyone who passes by.
Don't leave your valuables out in the open where they can easily be spotted. Keep your fine jewelry and other expensive items in a safe or a drawer where they are hidden. Don't leave money or anything else that yells "steal me!" sitting out or in plain view from the street.
Alarm systems can be expensive, so if you don't want to spend the extra money on one, you can employ something similar to the dog method. Put an alarm system sign in the front of your home so that burglars think you have one. A home that could potentially have an alarm system is much less appealing for a potential thief than one that won't immediately summon the police.
By setting your lights on a timer, you can create the illusion that someone is home and actively turning the lights on and off. When you're on vacation, set the timer so that your lights turn on a few times throughout the day.
Use blinds or curtains, especially at night. If burglars can see inside your home, they can see what you're doing, where you're storing your wallet, and which room you're sitting in to watch TV. Window treatments will help keep your life (and valuables) even more private.
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