How safe is your home?

Posted on May 20, 2009

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Hello. Hope you are all well.

Michele and I had a traumatic few weeks after our home was almost broken into. We had spent the last week looking at all available options to beef up security of our home after the brief flirtation with disaster.

Two weekends ago the quiet and peace of our neighbourhood was shattered by the ubiquitous presence of a very scary silhouette looming just outside our home. Mr Robber-to-be had driven his car right up into our driveway and had his face pressed against our windows, trying to peek in. Who knows what heinous deeds Mr Robber might have gotten up to had it not been the keen hearing of our bigger than life guard dog Toby (who growled at the window).

Friends have suggested he could be someone who’s probably lost and was looking for directions. Well mate, don’t you have a mobile phone and/or a Melways?

Others have suggested he could have arrived at the wrong house, and fully anticipating a housewarming or a barbie of sorts, drove up into a quiet house with no activity whatsoever. Well, if you turned up at a ‘wrong’ house, wouldn’t you call your mate to find out whether you’re at the right home?

Mr Robber also had stalker tendencies. Michele, upon hearing Toby’s growls, peeked through the blinds of our window upstairs and observed his every movement. By this time, Mr Robber had stepped out onto the pavement and was staring at the windows, trying to make sense of people at home.

My wife panicked, turned on the bedside lamp and the stairway light and called me. Had she not done that, Mr Robber could have well attempted a break in as it didn’t look like there was any signs of life at home. Not at least until Toby growled.

Mr Robber was outside for a good seven or eight minutes before he drove off, not twenty seconds before our good friends who lived just three minutes down the road turned up. Armed with baseball bats, I think they were ready for a bit of a kerfuffle.

Where was I when all this happened? Well, I wasn’t home and the situation was completely out of my control.

It’s unsettling and extremely perplexing when all you can do is calm your wife down on the phone, listening to her panicked sobs and cries. As a man, husband and provider (not that I subscribe to that male chauvinist bullshit), you try your best to be in control of things at home. For those seven-ish minutes, I felt completely emasculated and that the feeling of hopelessness sinks into you. It’s completely out of my control and I could only pray.

It’s weird sitting at home, feeling ‘secure’ at home because you’re surrounded by four walls. However, the structural integrity of houses in Australia is still a topic of contention with me. Not only are most houses here built with wood (a massive fire hazard), the walls and ceilings aren’t even secure or soundproof as they’re just plaster boards. I’ve heard of many stories of electricians and homemakers falling through their ceiling because their roof isn’t strong enough to hold their weight while doing up the homes.

Not only that, I’m a little undecided of ‘walling’ up all my windows with roller shutters as it’s a potential death trap should a fire start from inside the home. Spending thousands of dollars on these behemoths don’t deter determined burglars anyway, as the flimsy Australian homes could be easily accessed from the roof. Remove a few tiles, and the burglar is already in the house. I thought of locking up the manhole access as well, but the burglar could just punch through the plaster ceiling.

No seriously. That’s possible. It’s a culture shock for Michele and me as we came from homes built from bricks and steel beams and petty burglaries are accessed from unsecured doors or windows.

On hindsight, I did wonder why didn’t I call the cops. My mate told me it’s best I didn’t call, as cops would have brushed it off and told me Mr Robber hadn’t done ‘anything wrong’ and though he was trespassing on my property, he wasn’t involved in anything criminal. Yet.

Such incompetence doesn’t instill any faith in the Melbourne police force, whose presence has been conspicuously absent in the last few years. This was of course, among other things that the Melbourne police is infamous for.

Strangely enough, the bureaucratic nature of the Melbourne police was revealed after a chat with a knowledgeable friend of mine, who suggested I say something along the lines of “Oh, thats a shame, I guess the Solicitors won’t be impressed tomorrow morning” the next time this happened. Friend of mine had noticed criminal activity in his neighbour’s house and called the police but was told the nearest patrol car was over thirty minutes away. All this when he lived just three minutes away from a large police station.

Whatever happened after Friend of mine mentioned solicitors is up in the air, but within ninety seconds the first patrol car arrived. Within three minutes there were two patrol cars and a paddy wagon. 10 minutes later another car arrived. It was like, I quote him, ‘a police convention’.

I guess it’s not far-fetched to claim the Melbourne police only exists in theory, only respond to ‘genuine’ crimes (whatever that is) and are masters of public relations.

I’d like to think that the home that we live in is still the same pretty abode in the same quiet neighbourhood, flanked by the same nice neighbours. It truly is this way and probably hasn’t changed in the last few decades. However, nothing is more important than the safety and well being of your family.

Home security was something Michele and me both looked into last year, but with the wedding to save for, it was impossible to finance both. Now that we’re happily married, there’s ample funds to sink into decent home security measures.

It will be a busy few weeks for us. The local papers have never looked more interesting.

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