In response to a story published last issue in the North Dundas Times, OPP Sgt. Aaron Miller reached out in the hopes of providing some advice that can minimize the amount of crime – particularly property crime – in the local area.
“There are some simple ways to help prevent high value vehicle thefts,” said Sgt. Miller. He pointed out that the simple act of locking the doors on one’s car or home can help prevent thefts. Many people don’t bother doing this because they think “if a person really wanted to steal something from my car, they would just break the window”. However, in Sgt. Miller’s experience, a thief may simply go from car to car, searching for unlocked doors. It doesn’t take long to try a car door to check if it’s locked, and if even one in every ten cars has unlocked doors, valuables can be easily stolen in a short span of time.
“If they can get a pair of sunglasses or a phone or a wallet out of the unlocked vehicle, they’re not going to want to bother breaking into the locked vehicle,” Sgt. Miller said.
Another tip that Sgt. Miller added is to invest in surveillance technology. He pointed out that while there is certainly a cost for security cameras, doorbell cameras, and other such technology, the cost is now often much less than it used to be as technology evolves. Some people even use a simple trail cam as a surveillance camera.
Nothing excuses the perpetrators of property crime, and Sgt. Miller was very clear that his crime prevention tips are not meant to blame the victims in problematic areas such as Chesterville. Those who commit crimes are ultimately responsible for their actions and must be held accountable. But if simple tips can help prevent victimization, why not implement them for one’s own sake?
Something that Sgt. Miller believes that some people don’t realize is that the OPP wants to hear about every crime. “We need folks to come forward and tell us what’s happening in the neighbourhood,” he said. “Then we can look at proactive patrols and things like that.”
Sgt. Miller discussed with the Times an example of a situation involving the theft of $20 sunglasses. The victim of this crime may believe that it would be a waste of police time to report it due to the relatively low value of the item stolen, but this is not the case. A theft of $20 sunglasses from one vehicle may have preceded or followed the theft of other items on the same day or in the same week. It is also possible that the theft is not the worst crime that the perpetrator committed during a broader incident, and evidence from a small theft can help provide valuable leads.
“Maybe that’s the piece of the puzzle we’re missing,” said Sgt. Miller. “Maybe that suspect has just been involved in a more serious occurrence elsewhere, and maybe they needed cash or a debit card or credit card.” The evidence from a seemingly small crime could very well help to catch a criminal who has committed more serious crimes elsewhere.
One final, simple tip from Sgt. Miller: know how to report a non-emergency crime. The correct phone number to report a non-urgent crime such as a property crime is 1-888-310-1122. As always, for life threatening situations, call 9-1-1. We urge everyone to be vigilant and stay safe.