IT’S unsettling. Thieves are watching for homes left empty as many of us go away on summer vacation. Victims of burglary not only lose personal and sometime irreplaceable items, but the emotional jolt of having your property invaded is stressful and permanently shakes your sense of security.
With the peak of summer travel upon us, Crime Stoppers is launching a series of images on 20 digital billboards in Metro Vancouver, sponsored by Pattison Outdoor, as part of its ongoing #WorldWithoutCrime campaign. The ads focus on protecting your property at home and away.
Fortunately, break and enters are trending downward in Vancouver this year, but there were still 872 residential break-ins recorded in the City of Vancouver in the first six months of 2017.
Vancouver Police also note one in eight (13 per cent) burglaries show no sign of forced entry. The thief simply enters through a door or window left open on a hot day, for instance, sometimes while people are still inside the house.
“If you see something out of the ordinary while your neighbours are away, call police or Crime Stoppers right away,” says Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers (MVCS). “Many homeowners don’t realize they leave their homes vulnerable when they’re away, but there are steps you can take to help prevent a break-in.”
This province-wide Crime Stoppers campaign began in April and is reaching people through more than 500 billboards and bus shelters as well as washroom posters, digital advertising in restaurants and bars, public service announcements on radio and television, and on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Reporting to Crime Stoppers
Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is not the police. Tips to Crime Stoppers can be provided by telephone or online through a secure server, texts, or free mobile apps. Tips from the public are passed on to authorities to investigate.
Crime Stoppers don’t record phone calls, log IP addresses and they don’t need to know your name. Tipsters are provided with a code number and if their information results in a charge, arrest, the seizure of stolen property or illegal weapons, or the denial of a fraudulent insurance claim, a reward of up to $2,000 may be offered.
Tips to consider before leaving your home behind
Close it up – Lock it up
- Obviously, you should close and lock all windows and doors, and set security alarms. This includes garage doors.
- Don’t leave a spare key outside under a flower plant pot – like they do in the movies.
It’s an open invitation for a burglar to walk into your house without any forced entry. Better to leave the spare key with a trusted neighbour or friend.
Tell / Don’t Tell
- Tell local police of your plans so they can add your home to their vacation patrol list.
Be sure to include contact information for your house sitter and yourself.
- Once you’ve left, don’t post public messages on social media that will tip off any shady characters that you’re far, far away.
- Don’t reveal your holiday plans to strangers, not even the cabbie or bus driver taking you to the airport.
- Anyone you do tell, make it sound like you have a house sitter … whether you do or not.
- Don’t put your full home address on your luggage. A postal code is good enough.
Leave your home clue-less
- If ordering merchandise online, make sure the package is delivered well before you go away, so it doesn’t sit on the doorstep. Also cancel newspaper, milk and bottled water deliveries.
- Ask a trusted neighbour to collect your mail, and maybe have them park their car in your driveway.
- If you normally leave bicycles, yard tools, ladders outside or in your shed, lock them in the house or garage.
- Trim trees and shrubs near windows and entries, and clean up before you leave –
don’t give burglars a place to hide.
- An oldie but still a goody: use timers on lights and radios to create the impression that someone is still home.
Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is a non-profit society and registered charity that receives anonymous tip information about criminal activity and provides it to investigators in the communities of Metro Vancouver.