Linda Annis offered a familiar message for holiday shoppers Dec. 15: Don’t let the Grinch steal your Christmas cheer.
Annis, the executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, was in Cloverdale reminding people about safe shopping practices this Christmas season—both at home and at stores.
“Ironically, so many more people were actually working from home in 2020, so their houses weren’t left unattended as much. Yet, porches went unwatched anyway as people spent hours in the den on video calls, in the kitchen or streaming TV shows,” said Annis,. “If they just spent two minutes to think about how they might monitor the front door better, there would be fewer thefts.”
Annis, who is also a Surrey city councillor, offered her top tips on ways to help prevent crime.
1. Don’t Sit: Don’t let deliveries sit on your porch for long. If you’re not home for the delivery, or can’t watch for it while busy at home, ask neighbours to help watch for anything left on your porch. You can return the favour for them too.
2. Avoid Scams: Don’t get taken in when shopping online. Buy from proper, established businesses instead of relatively unknown sources, and be wary of online deals that don’t feel right. Shoplifted goods often get sold to the public online or through flea markets, with the money going to fund gangs dealing in drugs or illegal weapons. Organized retail crime costs all Canadians almost $5 billion a year.
3. Get Video: Use home video security cameras to watch for deliveries and crooks. Feed the images to your smartphone.
4. Watchout: Watch for counterfeit items. Be wary of counterfeit or poor quality “bargains” from market stalls or a pop-up retailer that’s in business one minute, and can be gone the next.
5. Close the Blinds: Make sure gifts inside the house aren’t visible outside. Peering through the window and seeing piles of gifts sitting beneath a Christmas tree is irresistible to burglars.
6. Don’t Stack: Don’t leave piles of cardboard lying outside your house. Boxes from expensive gifts left outside your house are a billboard announcing what’s new inside.
7. Etch It: Mark your property. Ask your local police to help etch your property with your driver’s license number. Photograph valuables and show the make, model and serial number. If something’s stolen and later found by police, there’s a better chance that you’ll get it back.
AT THE STORES
1. No Eye Candy: Don’t make your car a “crook’s candy store”. Before you lock up, leave nothing visible inside your car. Not even pocket change or empty bottles and cans.
2. Avoid Darkness: Don’t “park in the dark”. Find a busy, well-lit section of the parking lot. Lock your gifts in the trunk, never on the back seat.
3. Garage Guard: Guard your garage door opener. Leave the remote at home when shopping, or tuck it in your pocket so a smart car thief can’t just let himself in if he figures out your address.
Annis added that Crime Stoppers asks anyone seeing a crime in progress to call 9-1-1 or the local police. “However, if you have information that could help solve or prevent a crime, and want to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers.”
Crime Stoppers can be reached at 1-855-448-8477, online at solvecrime.ca, or through their “P3” smartphone app.