According to Ian Sivret, locking the doors to his home is a strict part of his daily routine.

All it took was a lapse in memory as he stepped out for his morning workout Monday for a would-be intruder to take advantage. Returning home about an hour later, Sivret said it took some time to realize that items were missing.

"When I finally realized that all the change that was on the counter and all the valuable things that I have stored away were all missing, I knew somebody had walked in," Sivret said. "During that time, my wife was just upstairs asleep."

Sivret shared his experience on social media as a cautionary story that he said could have ended badly if someone encountered the intruder. His wife can hold her own, Sivret said, but the situation is avoidable as long as people stay mindful of their home's security.

Home security tips from police

The ordeal happened to fall at the start of Crime Prevention Week, where police forces look to inform people about how to avoid break-ins and theft.

Const. Michelle Simard, of Ontario Provincial Police's South Porcupine detachment, said taking extra precautions around the home is always a wise investment.

"If you have electronic locks, keypad locks, change the code every once in a while," Simard said. "You could always install cameras, deadbolts in your doors. A good thing to have is maybe install some lights that turn on automatically inside the house while you're away."

Tips from the Timmins Police Service include:

  • Keep your garage or shed locked with secure devices, and any important equipment stored inside
  • Cover any windows with curtains and keep them locked
  • Hold any mail deliveries if you're away and have someone check on your home periodically
  • Never broadcast that you're not home on social media or via notes on your door

Break-ins do unfortunately occur, Simard said, and so people should be prepared for a variety of situations.

"If you come home and you realize your home has been broken into, don't go in the house, go to somewhere safe, call police," Simard said, adding that people should not touch anything in the home, to leave the scene fresh for investigation.

"If you are home when this happens, leave the residence and go somewhere safe — whether it be a neighbour, your car, behind the house, the garage — and then call 9-1-1," she said.

As well, Simard said keeping a regular inventory of valuables — including receipts and serial numbers — will help police determine what was taken and could help with insurance claims.

Dealing with the aftermath

Sivret said he's glad nothing irreplaceable was taken. More troubling, he said, is the feeling of insecurity that he and his wife are now left with.

"Somebody being in our home, somebody we don't know [...] it was a guy-sinking feeling," Sivret said.

For those situations, Timmins and District Victim Services are available to help with the emotional struggles, as well as insurance claims and connecting victims to other services.

"It does kind of disrupt your whole world for a little while and we want to make sure that we're here to kind of put that back together," said support worker Kerry Trudel.

A reminder for the community

The plan now, Sivret said, is to install security cameras around the home. He and his wife have been in the process of selling their house, though Sivret said this ordeal plus some other attempted home and car break-ins over the years make them keen to expedite the process.

His social media post has been garnering words of support and similar stories in the community and Sivret hopes people take his story to heart.

"It doesn't matter if somebody's inside, it doesn't matter if you can take care of yourself," Sivret said. "Always lock your doors, check your doors at night too."