Securing your Home Against Burglary

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Securing your Home Against Burglary

Although a very safe country to live in generally, not even Japan is completely free of crime.  It is easy to let one’s guard down living in a safe and comfortable city like Nagoya, but continued awareness and vigilance will ensure the safety of your home and family.

The goal of this article is not to frighten you, but to acknowledge that crime and burglaries happen, even in super safe Japan,  and to outline for our clients and readers simple methods available to prevent you from becoming a victim of burglary in Japan.

Home Burglaries in Japan

Home burglaries are an unlikely possibility in Japan, but  it is important not to let one’s guard down as they do occur. As a matter of fact, Aichi Prefecture has earned the unfortunate distinction of being the prefecture with the highest number of home burglary incidents five years in a row (2008-2013).

Although the number of burglaries varies significantly from year to year, the number of incidents remains high overall in Aichi Prefecture when compared to Japan as a whole. The Meito Ku Police Department reported 226 incidents of burglary in 2012; a 3.7% increase over 2011’s total of 218. As a whole, both Nagoya City and Aichi Prefecture saw a slight decrease in incidents between 2011 and 2012 (a 12% decrease from 4,159 to 3,660 and a 12.8% decrease of 13,121 to 11,441 respectively).

The most significant increases in burglaries were the 25.5% reported by Showa-ku (home to the Yagoto area) and Meito-ku’s 3.7%. Coupled with the overall decrease in incidents, these numbers suggest that burglars are becoming more strategic, targeting more affluent areas.

The graphs below illustrate the increase in burglaries that Meito-ku experienced between 2011 and 2012 despite relevant declines in Nagoya City as a whole. Even one burglary incident in the expat community can be very shocking, with word of mouth traveling quickly. But rather than succumbing to free-floating worry about the possibility of a break-in, we would like to introduce some of the many preventative measures you can take to protect your home.

* According to the Aichi Prefecture Police

Preventing Home Burglaries in Japan

The good news is that there are many simple measures you can take to protect your home from falling victim to home invasion. As you can see from the below graph, the methods criminals commonly use to break and enter are actually quite simple. This is good news because it means simple precautionary measures can greatly reduce the possibility of your home being robbed.

* According to the Meito Police Department

Taking These Preventative Measures Against Home Burglaries

Burglary prevention doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming; the most effective measures are often the simplest. Police in Japan advise the use of common sense, and to:

  • Lock all doors and windows even when you are going to be away from your residence for only a short period of time.
  • Use double locks on your doors and windows if they exist, or look into purchasing door jams and additional stoppers for sliding doors and windows.  A simple stick placed in a sliding door jamb will suffice.
  • Talk with your neighbors about your regular day-to-day schedules and inform them if you are going to be away for long periods of time.
  • Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions when planning to be away for long periods of time and have your neighbors collect your mail at regular intervals, or have your mail stopped at the post office for up to 30 days with this form (in Japanese)
  • Leave lamps, stereos, etc. on when you know you are to be away in the early morning or evening. If your Sky Perfect TV system is linked up to an amplifier, one simple thing to do would be to leave the sound of BBC or CNN on to create the illusion of voices coming from inside.
  • Purchase timers to place on your lamps, radios, etc. and set them to come on and off when you are not around or are asleep.
  • Don’t leave valuable items on the seat of your car or close to windows in your home.

Buying Simple Security Equipment

While exercising simple precautions will do much to help you avoid break-ins, for additional peace of mind you may be interested in buying some added security equipment. There is a wide variety of home security items available for purchase throughout Japan. Here are just a few examples of items you can purchase to better protect your home. These types of items can usually be purchased from home centers, electronic stores, or life-style stores like Tokyu Hands.

  • Timers: Automatic timers are a great way to have lights, TVs, radios or other appliances turn on at specified times to give potential thieves the impression that there is somebody at home. There are a good variety of timers available on the Japanese domestic market.
  • Security Lights: Security lights are an effective deterrent. Typically installed on the outside of the property, motion-activated security lights can be a great way to scare off a thief on the prowl. There is a large range of security lights available on the Japanese domestic market, and many of them  require only a minimal amount of effort to install.
  • Simple Alarms: There are some good simple alarm systems that you can employ easily without having to invest in a security company to install and maintain. Some alarms systems will even call or mail your mobile telephone when activated.
  • Window Film: Window film is a very cheap, and effective theft prevention measure. As seen in the above the crime statistics, breaking a glass door or window is by far the most common method of entry. Window film can be used to easily protect against this. Placing the film on windows in areas close to locks, burglars are restricted in their ability to make holes in the glass to reach in and “flick up” door catches. While window film may not completely block entry into your home, coupling it with sliding door locks and other simple deterrents creates much more work for burglars trying to enter a home.
  • Door Jams: These are very effective Western-style homes because one of the sliding doors is typically fixed in place. Simple door jams such as timber measured to fit the door are highly recommended. For Japanese-style homes, however, door-jams are not effective, as both sliding doors move and it is difficult to successfully jam both. For Japanese style homes we would recommend the following alternative.
  • Sliding Door and Window Locks: Although a little more expensive, these are a  better alternative for securing sliding doors and windows. Locks for both sliding doors and windows are very cheap and there is very little difference in price between the purely screw type and the ones that actually have locks and keys

Buying or Renting a Home Security System in Japan

SECOM is the most widely used security company in Japan. Once installed, your residence would be monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a week by infrared sensors within your residence and sensors on the doors and windows. SECOM offers lease systems that can be fitted without making any holes in walls. These are perfect for rental homes and the system that we highly recommend for superior security.

As SECOM really does provide the highest quality security available in Japan, we recommend their services to anyone seeking protection “above and beyond.”  As of the writing of this article, SECOM provides the following sample fees as an approximate estimate (in JPY):

*The above figures are provided for reference only. Actual costs vary.

In addition to the standard SECOM security package above, SECOM offers a variety of other items including safes, camera surveillance, biometric identification systems, etc. You can find out more about the services offered by SECOM by visiting their homepage.

Renter’s, home owner’s or “contents” Insurance Policies

We have shown you a wide variety of options at your disposal to prevent burglaries at home. However, no method is 100% foolproof and to prepare for the unexpected, we suggest that you purchase a reasonable amount of additional insurance coverage “just in case.” We say additional because, as you might already be aware, tenants in Japan are required to enroll in housing insurance upon signing a lease contract. It is important to note that this mandatory housing insurance is for liability purposes (to protect against damages to another apartment should your water break, for example), and such policies offer very minimal coverage for other damages such as theft or fire.

If you are interested in learning more about additional insurance protection for your self or your family, please contact us.  Our Partner, Hoken Sogo Kenkyujyo Co, Ltd (HSK), can answer any questions you might have or help you enroll in a policy that offers an appropriate level of protection for your needs.

www.japanhomesearch.com/insurance

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