Only a few days into the month of November police across the province were already reporting holiday-related crimes, specifically gifts being stolen from cars and packages taken from doorsteps.
You know its that time of year! Police have received their first "I left wrapped Christmas gifts in my car and now thieves have broken in and stolen them" complaint. Remember, Out of Sight is Out of Mind – for a thief!
— North Vancouver RCMP (@nvanrcmp) November 9, 2017
Richard Worth, from Security and Cellular Plus, said there are a few things all residents can do during the holidays to keep their homes and businesses safe.
He noted it can be as simple as making sure all windows and doors are locked and that a proper deadbolt is being used. “Those little things, like having well-lit areas keep properties more secure,” he explained, adding motion-sensor lights are a great option for exterior lighting. “Just do things to protect yourself, even if you don’t have an alarm system.”
Often, he said, criminals will analyze someone’s home or activities before breaking in. Having gifts or big ticket items visible to someone standing on the street just puts your home on display.
“[But] a security systems is a good deterrent,” he said, adding there are lots of different options to fit different needs.
Worth explained systems can be as simple as a couple of cameras to contacts on doors and windows that register when they’ve been opened. But the most popular option of late has been combining camera systems with alarms to provide more complete coverage.
It can all link to an app on your phone that allows the owner to control door locks when they’re not home or check to make sure doors have been locked once they’ve left. Different users can be assigned a pin, such as a dog walker or contractor, and the system logs exactly when that pin has been used so you can track who is coming and going.
A popular newer feature is the doorbell camera that is often motion activated and allows you to see who is at your door, or who has been there, without opening it. Some even have two-way voice causalities that allow you to have a conversation without having to open the door.
A lot of this technology can also be utilized for businesses and Worth said more and more people are opting for apps that can allow them to check their business without being there. He added it’s great for when alarms go off or if you can’t remember whether you’ve locked the door properly. “It’s just that little peace of mind,” he said.
West Shore RCMP Const. Matthew Baker, said locally most of these holiday-related thefts are crimes of opportunity. He noted often a thief will go through a neighbourhood checking for unlocked vehicles, skipping those that are locked.
“They’ll go for the easiest crime they can get … Just remove the temptation,” he said. “Don’t leave anything valuable in plain sight.” And that goes for items that may look valuable, such as an empty purse or name brand sunglass case, or even loose change. Baker added it’s a good practice to get into now that should be used all year-round. “It only takes five seconds to break in.”
When looking at the statistics to see if there are any increases in thefts from vehicles and home or business break and enters on the West Shore, Baker said “the numbers actually hold steady during the year.”
He noted one factor that could be limiting an increase in these crimes is the fact that residents are more aware of the potential for crime and are taking extra precautions. But, he added, these precautions shouldn’t just be utilized during the holidays.
Find the entire holiday edition of West Shore Family online.