The 9 PM Routine: Your Checklist to Prevent Property Crime

The 9 PM Routine: Your Checklist to Prevent Property Crime

Criminals are becoming active as we get ready to turn in for the night. Half of the break-ins reported occur between 9 PM and 6 AM. We may unknowingly be leaving the door open for them to take our belongings or commit other property crimes. When getting ready for bed, we may only think of tucking the kids in and getting ready for the next day; we may not think to make sure the garage door is closed, or the porch light is on. Criminals will take the opportunity to break into your home, vehicles or property buildings. They may even steal items just left unattended in your yard.

So, before you head to bed, consider taking steps to keep your property and your family safe. Make the 9 PM Routine part of your nighttime habits to prevent your rural property from becoming the target of crime.

Police agencies across North America use the 9 PM Routine as a part of their crime prevention efforts and to remind citizens to protect themselves and their property. By removing opportunities for theft, you can be proactive in preventing crime and enhancing safety in your rural community.

Here are some things you should check off before you end your day to keep your rural property safe.

9 PM Routine Steps

Lock Up

  • Secure All Doors and Windows: Double-check that every entry point, including doors and windows, is properly locked. You should also ensure that your garage doors are closed. These entry points often are vulnerable areas that criminals may exploit.
  • Lock Sheds and Outbuildings: If your rural property has sheds and outbuildings that store valuable tools, equipment, and supplies, make sure they are locked up. These structures can be enticing targets for thieves due to what is stored inside.
  • Ensure Your Vehicles are Locked: In rural areas, vehicles are often parked in driveways or open spaces, making them vulnerable to theft. This includes your field equipment, RVs and work trailers. Leaving it unlocked leaves your vehicle open to be stolen, along with any valuables stored inside. That is why you should include your vehicles in your 9 PM routine.

Lights On

  • Exterior Lighting: A well-lit exterior can deter criminals. Proper outdoor lighting eliminates hiding spots and provides increased visibility, reducing the opportunity for criminals to approach unnoticed. So, make sure you switch on your exterior lights when 9 PM rolls around. You can also install motion-activated lights in strategic areas such as entry gates, near outbuildings, and along pathways. These lights startle potential intruders and alert property owners. You can also utilize light timers to turn on exterior lights at a specific time, so you don’t have to.
  • Indoor Lighting: Leaving a few lights on inside your home, such as in the living room or a bedroom, creates the illusion that you are still awake and aware of what is happening. This can discourage potential intruders.

Valuables Out of Sight

  • Close Curtains and Blinds: Closing your window coverings prevents people from peering inside your home to spot valuable items or opportunities for unlawful entry.
  • Hide Valuable Items: Keep valuable items like phones, wallets/purses, computers, keys, money, jewelry, firearms, and garage door openers out of sight from windows and easily accessible points. This step should include inside and outside your home and your vehicles.
  • Empty Mailboxes and Retrieve Packages: An overflowing mailbox or packages left on the porch are easy targets for criminals. This practice not only keeps up the appearance your property is occupied but also prevents thieves from stealing valuable mail and packages.
  • Ensuring Outdoor Concealment: Toys, tools and other valuables used during the day should also be kept out of sight during the night. Expensive tools, toys, bikes, and lawn equipment left in plain view can attract unwanted attention. Make it a practice after using tools or equipment to promptly stow them away to prevent them from becoming targets.

Community Involvement

Crime prevention is a gradual process. Keeping your rural property safe through an initiative like the 9 PM Routine could make your area less enticing to criminals.

Rural neighbours have a strong sense of community and support for one another. You can also take this opportunity to share the 9 PM Routine with your community members and remind them to go over their checklist to continue to make an effort to prevent crime.

Make Your Property Less Attractive to Criminals at Any Time

The 9 PM Routine may be the perfect incentive to take action to make your rural property less appealing to criminals at night time. However, you can make your property less attractive to criminals at any time through crime prevention approaches like CPTED or Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and adding security measures like surveillance cameras and motion sensor lights.

Some CPTED practices include:

  • Keeping bushes and hedges under three feet will make it easier to spot something out of the ordinary.
  • Planting thorny greenery like roses and succulents
  • Adding gravel to create noise when intruders step near your entry points.
  • Landscaping like plants, pavement designs, gateways, and “CPTED” approved fences create barriers.

Taking opportunities from criminals is a key part of crime prevention. While we may want to take action, sometimes it's easy to forget to turn on a porch light or make sure you close the shop door. Following the 9 PM Routine is a great way to keep your property and family safe in a rural community. When 9 PM rolls around, all it takes is following a simple checklist to deter criminals from targetting your rural property.

Download your 9 PM Routine checklist from Alberta Rural Crime Watch to make crime prevention even easier, and be sure to share it with your neighbours to keep your rural community safe.

Download Your Checklist

October 19, 2023