Neighbourhood Watch Meeting Notes

Dear Neighbours,

For those of you who were not able to attend this meeting, here is a summary of what Constable Jon Morrice from 55 Division Crime Prevention said.

While we live in a police district that has a relatively low crime rate[1] , and in a city that is safe, there are steps we can take to increase safety and reduce property-loss crimes.

1.  Home and Garage Break-ins:

Most break-ins in District 55 occur in the daytime when no one is at home. Most times the criminal will enter the back yard from the laneway, and gain access through a basement window or by kicking in a door or by forcing open a basement window.  It doesn’t take much to kick in doors The thieves prefer a yard with garbage bins, which they can stand on to enter a first-floor window, or bushes they can hide behind while trying to open a basement window. He suggested we could remove these aids and limit access to our sliding basement windows by bracing them with a length of wood, such a piece of a hockey stick handle. “Criminals don’t want to make noise or expend a lot of effort: They want it easy,” Morrice added. “Alarms don’t help much because of the time it takes the police to get there…(The thieves) are in and out in under five minutes.”

2. Stolen Packages:

Last year numerous packages were stolen when delivered to front porches. Thieves will sometimes follow couriers to grab the items as they are delivered. So Morrice urges us to choose the option to sign for deliveries; or, if away, to arrange for a neighbour to accept delivery.

3.  Stolen Mail:

Some crooks have stolen credit card bills, magazines, notices from the Ministry of Transportation from mail boxes to commit identity theft. Morrice suggests installing a lockable mailbox.

4. Theft from Cars:

“Theft from cars is endemic,” said Morrice. “(But) we don’t get a lot of broken windows.” So always check that your doors are locked, and don’t tempt thieves with valuable items like expensive sunglasses, hockey equipment, skis – even garage door openers. If you keep identification in the car a thief who finds your car in parking lot could use the information to find your home, and use your garage door opener.  You could lose bicycles if they are not locked to the building, power tools, coins and CDs.

5. Theft from Persons:

Teenagers are more vulnerable to those rare thefts that occur out in public areas. The victims tend to be shuffling along after dark, hoods up, daydreaming to the sound of their earphones. Their electronic devices are attractive to thieves. So encourage them to stick to well-lit areas, to walk with a companion, to pay attention to what’s ahead and behind them.

6.  Watch out for your Neighbours:

Be neighbourly. Keep an eye out for suspicious and potentially dangerous conditions, and report them. Watch out for elderly neighbours who may be shut in by a winter storm or at risk if walkways are left icy. Residents at the meeting with Morrice urge us all not to speed on the laneways or streets.

7.  Vacation Safety:

Make arrangements before you leave on vacation, or turn over your home to tradespersons. When away, don’t signal your absence: Arrange to have your mail and other deliveries picked up and your sidewalk and walkways cleared. Ask a neighbour who is home during the day to keep an eye out for those who might pose as a tradesperson to enter your home to steal. If your key to the house, or the security code for your garage door opener, is passed around to multiple workers, change the locks and code after the project is complete.

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[1] District 55 (Danforth to the lake, Don Valley to Victoria Park) had zero murders, and fewer break-ins and car thefts during the first nine months of 2015 than in the much-larger District 53 (Lawrence to Bloor, Bathurst to the Don Valley). Other crimes increased but the totals did not exceed those in 53 by much: Assaults 566 to 506, robberies 124 to 86, sexual assaults 79 to 73. (Source: http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/statistics/stats.php)

Please stay safe!

Susan Poutanen

Northern Dancer Blvd South Neighbourhood Watch Street Captain