The Portage la Prairie RCMP have been responding to an increased number of property related crimes over the past couple of months. Since May 1st there have been 27 break and enters to sheds and garages, 13 break and enters to residences, 25 thefts from inside motor vehicles, and 10 thefts of motor vehicles themselves. These are only the reported incidents; some property owners are reluctant to report these embarrassing incidents, or are not aware they’ve been victimized.
Police are taking steps to increase patrols throughout the night, but cannot be everywhere at once. Community groups such as the Citizens on Patrol Program and Rural Crime Watch act as our eyes and ears where they can. Steps can be taken by property owners to lessen the opportunity which these thieves capitalize on.
Lock your vehicle, and refrain from keeping valuables inside. Never leave the keys to the vehicle inside, and never leave a running vehicle unattended. Park your vehicle inside a lockable garage. If that is not an option, park where you have an unobstructed view of the vehicle, preferably where it is well lit overnight.
Though your power bill might increase, leaving your home’s exterior lights on can go a long way to keeping people out of your yard or away from your home. Locking your home, your garage, and any outbuilding (sheds) on your property can also deter thieves. Installing security systems (cameras, DVR’s, off-site monitoring) can help police catch suspects in the act, or provide descriptions that lead to their capture. Loud, audible alarms can be installed almost anywhere, and will make sure you and your neighbours know when something suspicious is happening.
On the note of neighbours, if you’re friendly with yours, let them know when you’re away from your home so they can help keep a watchful eye while you’re gone. That being said, if you’re a social networker (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) refrain from posting times and dates when you’ll be away.
In regards to your personal items, there are steps you can take to help police recover them should they be stolen. Noting the make/model/serial numbers of the items, and taking photos of them, can help police and insurance companies after a theft. Placing unique identifying marks on items (engravings, hidden labels, etc.) can be very useful in order to link suspects to specific thefts.
It’s important to remember that these steps are only precautions, and will not stop a thief who can break into a home, garage or vehicle before a call can be made to police. If you find yourself the victim of property crime, do not disturb anything the suspects might have touched. Police have been able to link suspects to thefts by successfully processing evidence at the scene, and they will hope to do the same with your property.
Though the police are expected to keep our community safe, times have regrettably changed from the days where you could leave your front door and your car unlocked. Officers cannot be everywhere at once, and in order to help curb this criminal activity, they ask that you take the time to make your home as safe as possible.