Community Stories

The lights are on but nobody’s home!

June 11, 2020

The phrase might conjure up images of someone who is less-than-intelligent, but in fact, when it comes to keeping your property safe and secure, leaving the lights on when you’re not home is one of the smartest things you can do!

It’s also one of the main principles of CPTED, or crime prevention through environmental design.

“Making your home appear as if there are people inside, even when you’re not home is one of the best ways of deterring property crime,” explains Red Deer RCMP Cst. Brandon Vachon. “If you’re heading out camping or to the cabin this summer, leave some lights on; especially if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Make sure you ask a family member or neighbour collect your mail and newspapers.”

The Red Deer RCMP encourages residents to minimize crimes of opportunity by assessing the environmental design of their home or business. Citizens who take an active role in keeping their property safe are less likely to be targeted by would-be vandals or thieves.

Although RCMP have stepped up patrols in many areas of the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, making crime prevention a part of your everyday life can significantly increase the safety and security of your family and property. Crime Prevention experts say property owners should focus on three main factors when assessing the environmental design of their property:

  • Securing the premises
  • Making it look occupied even if it’s not
  • Protecting valuables

“Take preventative measures to protect your property,” says Cst. Vachon. “This summer don’t leave your windows open when you’re not home. Make sure trees and shrubs aren’t creating blind spots or areas someone could hide in. Make sure exterior doors are well lit and are visible from the street or by neighbours.”

Proper locks on exterior doors are also essential. RCMP recommend a 2.5 centimetre deadbolt on all entry points. Patio doors are often targeted. In addition to the slider lock, install metal screws in the upper track preventing it from clearing the low track.

“Most break-ins are done by amateur thieves who don’t use sophisticated tools,” says Vachon. “So taking simple steps like installing extra locks or putting a piece of wood on the track of a sliding door so it can’t be forced open, is often enough to deter criminals.”

Windows pose one of the largest threats to both home and commercial security. Basement windows are often hidden by bushes or trees, giving intruders an ideal place to work. The best deterrent is to clear obstructions from all windows and keep them covered with curtains. Never leave windows open if you’re away from home; keep them closed and locked. The same goes for all exterior doors, including garage doors, even when you’re home.

Make crime prevention a neighborhood-wide activity. Get to know your immediate neighbours. The more people you have watching out for each other, the more secure you all are.

For more tips on protecting your property, check out the Home Security Checklist and Business Security Checklist on The City’s website. There are also valuable resources for protecting vehicles and bicycles, as well as additional information on the CPTED principles and ways to implement them at

Call 9-1-1 to report a crime in progress. To report theft or vandalism to property, call the police non-emergency line at 403-343-5575. Theft under $5000 can also be reported online: