Safe Keeping

It was 1992, four days after Christmas. I had a friend from Ottawa staying with me over the holidays, and shortly after 6 p.m. we decided to go down the road for a bite to eat. An hour later, upon unlocking my back door, my life was about to change…
People who have been robbed will tell you it is the ultimate violation. Gone were the presents under my Christmas tree and Champagne in the fridge; the TV, stereo, microwave and my leather coats hanging by the door through which they intruded.
But it was the furry white rabbit sitting innocently on my bed that would be the core of the assault.
“Snowy,” as I'd called him, had been with me since a child. How brilliant, I'd thought, to keep my most precious valuables deep within the stuffed bunny made to store a pair of child's pajamas. Well, Snowy had been left behind, but all that he'd been accountable for was not.
That wintry evening I lost my mother's diamond rings, my grandmother's gold locket, my jewellery, passport and a piece of my past. It is a sad day when someone can steal your memories.
Safe-keeping what is valuable to you protects not only your belongings but your own personal peace of mind. Televisions and cameras can be replaced, but it is those special items of emotional value that carry no price tag. We should honour what is precious by protecting them.
There are many ways we can safe-guard our most valuable and sentimental possessions. Most commonly, people that have important, expensive items for keepsake will buy security safes. Usually a safe is used to protect things such as jewellery, money, heirlooms, art and significant documents. Basically anything that you do not want anyone else to gets their hands on. Safes are also increasingly popular due to the risk factor of fire or flood.
Buying a safe is a good investment for anyone, even those who don't own items of huge dollar value. Much of what we put away does tend to have an emotional attachment to it. Old family photos, love letters, antiques, collectibles, childhood possessions, items passed down from deceased relatives, etc. If anything were to happen to such keepsakes, a piece of us would go with them.
There was a time when an average household containing a safe would be considered a novelty. Sadly, most people would resort to purchasing a safe after a misfortune had occurred. Nowadays we are more pro-active when it comes to securing our homes and what lies within.
Access Security Products Ltd. in Oakville has been a frontrunner in the commercial vault and safe business since 1992. Always conversant, owners Linda and Peter Gauthier soon recognized the trend toward home safes. To accommodate customer demand, they created a sideline and have expanded a portion of their business to include the evolving residential market.
Without doubt the residential security marketplace is growing.We are more aware and perspicacious about our community and its residents. Gauthier explains, “Today people are more conscious about being vulnerable. We travel more now and many of us have a couple of different residences or a cottage.”
Originally specializing in commercial vaults, Access Security has earned a prominent reputation since its inception in Burlington. Branching out into the world of residential safes, Linda Gauthier enjoys the creative process.”People can visit our showroom and then sit with us for a consultation. We are very private and discreet, as it is a confidential business. They tell us their needs and we respectfully take them through the process.”
And a process it is. There is plenty to be considered when buying a personal safe. First and foremost what would you be putting in it? That of course helps define size and style. Do you want a wall insert or floor bolt? What room or closet would you choose?
“A great time to plan for a safe is when your home is being built,” says Gauthier. “We work closely with designers and architects to determine where the safe should be incorporated.”
Access offers aesthetically pleasing customized safes manufactured onsite.  And as for the interiors, they have been lined with everything from exotic wood and fine leathers to ostrich feathers. Though women usually take the initiative to purchase a safe, men are equal in their collections.
“For example, we recently completed a beautiful safe with drawers and watch-winders designed to hold nine men's Rolex watches.”
If you're not ready to invest in the purchase of safe, a great tip from the police is to invest in a simple electric engraving pen. With this pen you can inscribe your name or a number on you most valuable items. Engraving identifiable numbers helps deter robbery in two ways: first, you discourage the thief since marked property is much more difficult to sell. Second, if a thief does steal your property, it is much easier to catch and prosecute him when he is discovered with goods in his possession that are easily identifiable as stolen.
On the flip side, think like a criminal when hiding your items. Fact: First they go into the master bedroom, secondly the bathroom. Now working “for” the police department, former offender “Charlie” gives this advice, “Mark an envelope in an easily accessible drawer or with files by your computer with “Bank Safe Deposit Box” on the outside and a list of items on the inside. This will tip off the burglar that your most valuable items are stored at the bank and will discourage him from tearing up your house looking for them.” Charlie's number one recommendation for hiding money is inside toys in a child's room. “You have to remember we want in and out within five minutes!”
When all is said and done, reducing your risk factor is paramount, but nothing is infallible. Content insurance is a must, and Kelly Schnuur of Photographic Proof has taken it to another level. A professional photographer for 15 years, she was raised by a mother in the insurance business. Says Schnuur, “Having grown up in that environment, I recently discovered a niche where I could combine my art to fulfill a need in the insurance world that had not yet been capitalized on.”
A believer in “do what you know and do what you love,” Schnuur created Photographic Proof. She will come into your home and with professional skill and lighting photograph what you have insured.
“Looking through the eyes of the insurer; how do they know what condition an item is in? For example, with a piece of art I will photograph the certificate of purchase and evaluation, the piece and signature, the quality and even the condition of the frame and back. It is a win-win situation for the insurance company and the owner.”
Looking back at the Christmas of 1992, had I been more sophisticated and informed, I would have had the insight to not put valuables in a pyjama bag. Today, what is valuable in my home are those walking and talking and barking around me. Protecting them is first and foremost, but I can guarantee that any tangible item of value I have around the house is undeniably, categorically “safe.”