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Secure ladders to stop second-storey thieves, police warn (Toronto Star)

altBy Jim Wilkes

SafeTech talks fire protection in The Toronto StarHomeowners who leave ladders unattended or windows unsecured are giving burglars an open invitation to bypass ground-floor security systems and break in through upper storeys, Peel police say. The warning comes after this week’s arrest of a Mississauga man charged with 50 break-ins across the GTA over the past 18 months that netted more than $800,000 in cash, gold and jewellery.

Det. Randy Brack said high-end homes in Halton, Peel and York were targeted, usually on Saturday and Sunday nights when residents were out.

“You can drive down any street in any neighbourhood and spot the ones where people aren’t home because they’re dark,” Brack said.“He had a very distinct signature entry. He used a ladder to access second-floor windows, to avoid obvious alarms on the ground floor. He is a self-employed contractor and seemed to know which windows led to the master bedrooms.”

A Peel police civilian crime analyst spotted a trend in home burglaries last year in Mississauga and identified the profile of a particular suspect who had been arrested in Toronto in 2005, but the break-in artist wasn’t active then and the trail went cold.But Brack said break-ins from December through March in Halton and Brampton bore the distinctive signature. Detectives made an arrest during a burglary in Vaughan on Sunday night.

Brack said of the 7,000 break-ins in Peel last year, only 37 were through second-floor windows, “so they really stand out.”Sean O’Leary, president and owner of Safetech Alarm Systems, said he’s not surprised the burglar was able to break into the homes undetected since the standard in his industry is to simply protect the basement and main floor.

“It’s usually just door alarms and one or two motion detectors — small installations that are inadequate,” said O’Leary.“If the home is bigger, you’re going to need more devices. You should do all doors and windows, and at least a couple of well-placed motion detectors.”

At minimum, O’Leary suggests placing a motion detector at the top of the stairs or in the second-floor hallway. That way, even if a someone gets into the house, it’s not likely they’ll be able to snoop around undetected.

“Even if they break in through a window, they’re not likely to leave that way — they’re going to have to get close to that staircase at some point and the alarm will pick them up,” he said.Const. Ashley Kimlin said most police forces offer in-home security assessments to let residents know where they are vulnerable to break-ins.

“Alarm systems are great, but you still have to be aware of the second floor,” Kimlin explained. “And there’s only so much protection anyone can have unless you want to live in Fort Knox. You need to balance security, safety and what you can realistically live with.”Ali Hussein Abu-Khalil, 45, also known as Ali Ramadan, is charged with 50 break-ins. He is also sought by police in Dearborn, Mich., for a home invasion in 2003.

The Toronto Star