Thieves are changing their tactics, says Linda Annis.
Annis, the executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, held a media event in Cloverdale June 23 to highlight tips to prevent crime as the summer vacation season starts.
Annis, who is also a Surrey city councillor, said because many people have alarms and video cameras, “crooks are adapting.” She said thieves are stealing things outside the home now and also rifling through cars.
“Police tell us using garage door openers is the big one,” said Annis. “Just a few years ago, the main thing was to warn homeowners how to prevent crooks from breaking into doors and windows, but affordable home security alarms and video equipment are starting to change that for the better.”
Despite this, Annis said homeowners are still forgetting “simple things” like remembering to lock their car doors. This allows burglars to snatch garage door openers and enter homes through the garage, also possibly finding interior doors unlocked.
“No need to smash windows or jimmy door locks on your home if they can just roll up your garage door,” she explained. “If the door leading from the garage into your house isn’t locked, you’ve just asked the burglars to ‘come right in’. And don’t leave a spare key under a flowerpot either. Everyone knows that one.”
Annis also said don’t leave anything outside your house, whether you’re home or not. She added leaving a ladder lying around is a “big no-no” as thieves can use it to enter second-floor, unlocked windows.
“Making sure we put away things outside the house gives us a chance to take preventative action.”
Annis also reminded the public Crime Stoppers is an important tool to help stop crime. She said while video cameras and alarm systems do help, they can provide a false sense of security that can lead to complacency.
“See something, say something,” she said. “Crooks don’t go on vacation. If you see something out of the ordinary in your neighbourhood, call police right away. Or, if you know who’s behind break-ins on your street, send an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers. Your tip may lead to an arrest, and possibly a reward of up to $5000.
In addition to giving out general tips, Annis offered her “9 at 9” checklist to help prevent crime (see below).
Annis’s nine common sense things to check every night at 9 p.m.
1. Remove everything from inside your car – from valuables and garage door openers, to empty bottles and spare change.
2. Roll up car windows tight and lock all the doors.
3. Make sure all garage doors are closed and locked, including the door inside that leads from the garage into your home.
4. Lock up ladders, bikes, and even garden equipment.
5. Close and lock all doors and windows on your home, even if it’s hot out.
6. Set the alarm and check your video security equipment – can you see your front door activity on your phone app?
7. Leave the porch light on overnight, so your front door isn’t hidden in darkness.
8. Make sure boxes from online deliveries are quickly picked up from your front step.
9. Ask a neighbour to pick up newspapers and flyers from your door while you’re away – a pile of papers on the doorstep says, “no one’s home.”