The Grinch and his little dog Max attempted to steal packages from a house in Cloverdale Dec. 6, but the pair were thwarted by Linda Annis.
Annis, the executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, set up the media event to highlight preventative tips to help stop crime this Christmas season.
“We had The Grinch and Max out today to make a point about how anyone can help prevent theft at Christmastime,” said Annis, who is also a City of Surrey councillor. “With so much online shopping these days, it’s easy for someone to quickly snatch packages sitting too long at your door.”
Annis said it’s important to watch for “porch pirates” who follow delivery trucks and steal packages immediately after they are dropped at someone’s doorstep.
“Preventing theft is largely common sense and we hope our list of Christmas crime prevention tips will help,” Annis added. “It’s just a matter of putting it into action.”
Annis told the Cloverdale Reporter the top two holiday crimes are “porch piracy” and theft from people’s cars, with the latter usually occurring in store parking lots. Annis said if shoppers leave gifts on their front or back seats, instead of out of sight in the trunk, thieves will “eagerly” smash windows to get them.
“It seems so simple, but many people, for whatever reason, forget to put their purchase in their trunk,” she said. “At this time of year, it’s a crime waiting to happen.”
Regarding theft from front steps, she said knowing when the package is getting dropped is half the battle.
“It’s a real problem,” Annis said of porch piracy. “There are so many videos online from home security cameras showing package thefts. Thieves will follow around delivery vans, walk up to a house with an empty package in their hand, and replace the one they’re taking with the dud. I urge everyone to take note of when your item arrives and get a neighbour to grab it if you won’t be home.”
Annis outlined a list of 10 points (see below for full list) that she said will “help prevent Christmastime crime at home and while out shopping” this holiday season.
“If you see a crime in action, at Christmas or any time of the year, call 9-1-1 or the local police,” Annis noted. “If you have information about some nefarious deed that someone’s up to, or if you can anonymously identify someone up to no good, give that tip to us at Crime Stoppers. We’ll send it on the relevant authorities to investigate without ever contacting you back.”
Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS, through the Crime Stoppers app, online at solvecrime.ca, or through Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers’ Facebook page.
Annis’s 10 tips for a safe holiday season
1. Online shopping: Online shopping is easy, so is losing you package once it’s delivered. If you’re not able to watch for your delivery, ask neighbours to help watch. You can return the favour for them too.
2. Home Security Video: Use your app and keep an eye on your home security video feed. Maybe you’ll spot a crook stealing your Christmas lawn display, or packages from your porch.
3. Think Twice: Think twice before clicking “yes” on that online shopping cart. Organized retail crime costs Canadians almost $5 billion a year, so buy from established businesses, not unknown sources. Shoplifted or stolen goods may be sold online or through flea markets, with the money often going to gangs dealing in drugs or illegal weapons.
4. Social Media: Think about who might be watching your sunny vacation pics on social media. Remember, your post tells the whole world you’re not at home.
5. Recycle: Recycle that cardboard. Boxes discarded outside your house tell thieves that expensive gifts lie within. Goodbye 65-inch TV.
6. Etch your DL#: Etch your driver’s license number on valuables, in case they get stolen. Ask local police to help do the etching. Also take phone pics of your valuables showing make, model, and serial number.
7. Mall for Thieves: Don’t let your car be a “mall for thieves.” Before you lock up your car, leave nothing visible inside. Not even pocket change or empty bottles or cans.
8. Keep it “Light”: Find a busy, well-lit section of the parking lot and lock your gifts out of sight in the trunk.
9. Garage opener: Leave your garage door opener at home or in your pocket. A thief who takes your remote sitting from your console, and finds your address from something in the car, considers that an open invitation to come check out your garage!
10. Pick Pockets: Watch your pockets in the mall. Keep purses and wallets where you can keep track of them and thwart pickpockets who look to take advantage while jostling with holiday crowd.