Comment: Discovering the alarming side of neighbourly behaviour

Security matters more than ever when the neighbours are away

Security matters more than ever when the neighbours are away - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

My neighbours and I keep an eye on each other’s houses when we’re away, feeding cats, putting bins out and taking in mail to give whoever’s home is empty a lived in look (and a live cat or two to come back to).

A few weekends ago all of my closest neighbours were away, as well as the rest of my household. While I enjoyed the silence, the burden of having six cats and many humans depending on me to keep the burglars at bay and the animals alive was quite a responsibility. Every time an alarm went off – a regular occurrence – I was worried it was one of theirs (it wasn’t).

One of my neighbours is especially, shall we say, vigilant where the comings and goings of our road are concerned. She once caught a couple of crooks in the act, breaking into another neighbour’s empty house. When she’s away I know I really need to have my wits about me.

My neighbours all have burglar alarms, but they’re operated in different ways, making the cat-feeding a minefield of potential extreme noisiness. One has a fob that needs to be waved in the direction of the alarm pad on entry. We didn’t do a trial run before she went away for the first time as hers is a cat-free household and I only had the keys in case of emergencies.

Inevitably, the alarm sounded early one morning and, looking out of the window, I saw a panicking woman outside my neighbour’s open front door. Turned out she was the cleaner and the agency hadn’t passed on the message that she wasn’t needed that week. Neither of us had a clue what to do with the fob, waving it in the direction of the control panel for whet felt like a fortnight before she eventually pressed it to the device, and silence ensued. Alarming to say the least.