Crime Stoppers “COVID Summer” staycation tips

How to watch your house, watch your neighbour’s place – and tell police and Crime Stoppers if suspicious strangers are casing the neighbourhood for open doors and windows

STAYING home more this summer means “I’ll always be around to watch everything,” right?

Not really.

With warmer weather, criminals know we tend to leave windows, patio doors and garages open. And after weeks of staring at the same walls at home, a few day trips are starting to look pretty good to many of us, so our homes will be unattended sometimes for a day or two at a time.

“If you’re in the backyard, who’s watching the front door you opened to get some air? No one can watch all sides of the house all the time, and crooks know it. So keep the harder-to-see parts of the house locked up even if you’re home,” says Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.

Police need information on where and when these crimes occur, and a tipster’s information may mean the difference between “justice for the victim” and “just another unsolved crime”.

“Crooks don’t go on vacation, so if you see something out of the ordinary in your neighbourhood, call police right away or send an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers on our tips line, online or on our Crime Stoppers reporting app,” Annis says. “Your tip may lead to an arrest, and possibly a reward of up to $5,000.”

Nine common sense things to check every night at 9 p.m.:

  1. Remove everything from inside your car – from valuables and garage door openers to pop bottles and pocket change.
  2. Roll up the windows tight and lock all the doors.
  3. Lock up bikes, ladders and even garden equipment
  4. Make sure all garage doors are closed and locked, including the one inside that leads into your home.
  5. Close and lock all doors and windows of your home.
  6. Set the alarm and check your video security equipment.
  7. Leave the porch light on overnight, so your front door isn’t hidden in darkness.
  8. Make sure online deliveries are quickly picked up from your front step.
  9. Don’t let newspapers and flyers pile up – that really looks like no one’s home.

Tips on home break-ins and theft can be provided` to Crime Stoppers by telephone, online at solvecrime.ca or through Crime Stoppers’ tips reporting app for smartphones. It’s available from the App Store or from the Play Store by searching “P3”. When reporting your tip on the app, “Break and Enter” is one of the many offenses found in the list of reportable crimes.

All tips from the public are passed on to authorities to investigate. Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is not the police and doesn’t record phone calls, log IP addresses and won’t use your name. Tipsters are provided with a code number and if their information results in a charge, a reward of up to $5,000 may be offered.

Tips to prevent “summertime crime”

Be prepared to report any crime by downloading the Crime Stoppers app and keeping it on your phone

* The “P3” app allows you to use your smartphone to report any crime anonymously. No need to remember numbers to call. The app also allows you to upload pictures, phone video, documents and more with your tip.

Leave your house with a “lived-in” look

* If ordering merchandise online and having it delivered, make sure the package doesn’t sit on the doorstep.

* If going away, cancel newspaper and bottled water deliveries – and ask a trusted neighbour to collect your mail, and maybe have them park their car in your driveway.

Close it up – lock it up

* Vacation or staycation, it doesn’t matter – close and lock all windows and doors and set security alarms. This includes garage doors. When leaving your home, use timers on lights and leave radios on to create the impression that someone is still home.

* Don’t leave a spare key outside under a mat or flower plant pot – like they do in the movies. Better to leave the spare key with a trusted neighbour or friend.

And if you leave town this summer…

* 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 about your vacation plans, make it sound like you have a house sitter (even if you don’t).

* Don’t put your full home address on your luggage. A postal code is good enough.

* Lock up bikes, yard tools and ladders in your shed, your house or in the garage.

* Keep trees and shrubs trimmed near windows and entries – don’t give skulking burglars a place to hide.

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