While the month of November is Fire Prevention Month, Crime Prevention WEEK is this week! November 5th – November 11th! In that spirit, we are bringing to you a blog article that talks about some of the most common crimes in London, Ontario and what you can do to prevent them.
There is a full spectrum of crimes. A crime can be anything from jaywalking to homicide. Reporting crimes that happen to you is important! Not only does it add to police statistics but let’s say that a crime is commonly committed in one location but 70% of the victims don’t report the crimes. How will the police know to monitor that area more closely? As far as the police are aware, there is 70% less crime there so they are going to focus more efforts to areas where there have been more reports.
Below is a table of some of the most popular crimes reported in London, Ontario for 2016.1
|Break & Enters
|Theft: Motor Vehicle
|Possession Stolen Prop
From the table, you can see that the top five crimes committed in London, Ontario in 2016 are:
- Theft (8,909 occurrences),
- Assault (2,120 occurrences)
- Fraud (1,975 occurrences),
- Break and Enters (1,660 occurrences)
- Theft: Motor Vehicle (814 occurrences).
Preventing theft and motor vehicle theft
Criminals typically target vehicles for the reason to sell the vehicle or parts of the vehicle. They will also use the vehicle to drive to where they want to go before ditching it or to use it to commit other crimes with. There is also a market for cloning vehicles. Cloning vehicles is when a stolen vehicle is given a fraudulent identification number and sold to an unsuspecting buyer. The danger with this is that fraudulent vehicles such as cloned vehicles can be located by the police and seized to be returned to the original owner with no pay back to you. Depending on how you paid for the vehicle, you could still be paying your bank back the money on a vehicle that was never yours to begin with. On top of this headache, you can’t always trust that your insurance company will provide you with a rental car until your vehicle is found or until you can purchase a new one.
Of all categories of vehicles, cars account for 50% of all thefts in Canada.2 This is not just vehicle theft, it is all thefts! To prevent thefts of your vehicles the best practices for this is to always lock your doors, even when you are inside the vehicle and never leave your running vehicle unattended. When parking your vehicle, park in well-lit locations and avoid isolated areas. Consider installing a vehicle tracking device to help with the recovery of your vehicle. Another way to help with the recovery and identification of your vehicle is to leave a business card or address label inside the doors of the vehicle.
Bicycles are a common theft item. In order to prevent your bicycle from being stolen, invest in a sturdy lock that will allow you to go through each tire and wrap around the bicycle frame. Some criminals use bolt cutters to break chains so you want to increase the amount of time and effort they will have to exert to break your lock. As well, lock your bicycle in a public area where it will be harder for the criminal to do the work to steal the bike. Another step that you can take is to register your bicycle at the police station so that if it is stolen and then recovered it can be returned to you.
Street robberies most often occur around bus stops, at cash machines, parking lots, and in crowded areas. Avoid listening to music when walking alone after dark as you want to be able to hear your surroundings. Do not flash money, jewellery or technology otherwise you risk becoming a target to a criminal. They will wait for you to have your guard down or your attention averted before striking. You should be very discrete with your valuables and never leave items unattended, even for a moment. It takes no time for someone to walk quickly by and swipe whatever you’ve left behind.
TRACtag Global is a device that you can use to help you locate your valuables in the event of a theft. They have different sizes for different devices. Their devices are perfect for things like pets, bicycles, vehicles, and even people! They have smaller devices for pets that like to run away or for people with mental illnesses that cause them to wander off and get lost. They also have larger devices for items like vehicles or boats.
Smartphones and devices are turned into a network to help find these items. For example, if I have the free TRACtag Global app on my phone and someone’s lost dog wanders into my area, my phone will anonymously alert the people with the lost pet that he was located in my area. If I have a neighbour across the street with the app, theirs will do the same thing and help them locate the lost item more accurately.
Whether or not you have any items to tag with a TRACtag device, you should still consider downloading their free app so that your phone can work to help find lost items in our community.
Remember: because of Neighbourhood Watch London’s partnership with TRACtag, you can use the promo code NHWL50 to save 50% on TRACtag’s devices! Also, TRACtag is a one time purchase, there’s no monthly fees, unlike most GPS units.
Assault can be anything from a drunken fight at a bar to a severe and tragic domestic abuse situation. It’s hard to pinpoint a reason behind assault as it is often the result of heightened emotions and poor decision making. The main thing to do to avoid being assaulted is to practice calm and even emotions at all times and to be aware of the situation you are in. Don’t trust that the emotionally charged person will be as in control as you and make sure that you have a clear exit so that you can leave the situation until things have cooled off.
If you see a potentially explosive situation don’t just hurry by and assume it isn’t your business. Without getting in the middle of the situation and trying to handle it on your own, offer support to the victim in the situation. Never get in between people and don’t interject to the point that you become the victim. If it’s safe for you to do so, never leave someone that is the victim to an assault or a potential assault. You might be the only person protecting them from harm. Sometimes asking people to cool off for a minute will help break the emotional tension they are feeling – but keep your distance. If you witness a situation go south, keep back and call the authorities without the aggressor becoming aware as they might decide to attack you.
Fraud is one of the most common cyber-crimes. When posting personal information on a public site, be careful about the information that you choose to share as sharing too much can lead to identify theft. Most fraudulent emails will be “urgent” notices and from financial institutions. Never respond or click on these emails. Instead, call or visit the institution or go directly to the site that is making these claims.
Recently, I had two scam emails. One from Amazon saying a crazy purchase had been made. After going to my amazon account and seeing my order history I determined this wasn’t true. A similar thing happened to my iTunes account.
When you receive an email saying there is something wrong, never click on anything in the email. Instead, go directly to the company’s website and either call or email them with contact information that you find there. Do not trust emails to do anything other than alert you to potential fraudulent activity.
Remember: Banks do not send emails asking for personal information. Compare website addresses they want you to click on with the one you actually use. The smallest difference could mean you are on a site that isn’t owned by the bank.
Prevent Break & Enters
Break and enters are rarely committed by people that know the victim. Criminals will scope out a neighbourhood or be from a nearby neighbourhood and check to see what times might be best to commit a break and enter and which houses will have both the best stuff to steal as well as easiest access. Characteristics that burglars look for when they are planning to break and enter are:
- Corner lots or homes that back onto parks or other open spaces. These types of houses offer greater access.
- If there are lots of shrubs or trees that criminals can use to obscure people’s view of them from the road as they break into a door or window your house could become a target.
- The absence of a lived-in look. If it looks like no one is home then they will have time to get in and steal everything before getting caught. Make sure flyers and mail are collected, put lights on timers, and keep the property well maintained.
Remember: with one forceful and well-placed kick, you can break into a house in a matter of seconds. Kicking in the door requires no special tools and, surprisingly, makes very little noise.
If you are the victim of a robbery, you should let your neighbours know so that they can be vigilant of anyone returning and it lets them know to keep a closer eye on the neighbourhood and everyone’s property.
If you see a suspicious person or group of people hanging around at different times on different days then they might be scoping out the neighbourhood to plan a robbery. Take note of what they look like or what vehicle they are driving and report it to the police. Although the police might not be able to do anything at the time it could be a huge clue if one of your neighbours or you get broken into in the following days.
By following our tips and suggestions for preventing crime you should be successful in maintaining a safe and happy neighbourhood!
1”Other Crime Statistics.” London Police Service. Nov 9, 2017. Web.
2”Shoulda Woulda Coulda.” Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. 2017. Web.