The RCMP invited Lantzville residents to an open house on June 19 at Costin Hall. That’s a switch, I thought, usually it’s us inviting them to provide some sort of service. I saw the invitation in the DOL newsletter, so maybe that was why the meeting was well attended by members of Council. But not many residents came. The officers explained that community outreach, and education is part of their mandate.
The main issue affecting all Lantzville residents is property crime, or theft. The main driver of property crime is drugs and people needing to fund their drug problem. Officer Don Halverson made it very clear: any drug you have ever read about or seen on TV is for sale, and is being used, in Nanaimo and neighbourhoods like Lantzville. And so is related crime. Stuff stolen from cars and homes go to pawn shops, or are sold through “used” websites such as Craigslist.
The RCMP members provided lots of suggestions about how to protect ourselves from property crime. Number one on the list was to lock your house, and to lock your vehicle at all times. Burglars want a quick grab, and it is amazing how often we allow them easy access because we don’t lock our cars. Also high on the list is to live in a neighbourhood where police officers live! A useful tip is to clearly label your belongings, especially tools, small appliances and electronics. Etching with your SIN could help you prove an item belongs to you. Record all serial numbers.
There are many actions you can take to discourage burglars attacking your home. Keep ladders locked up. Own a big dog. Adjust the environmental design of your landscaping. Avoid putting dense shrubs near doors and windows where thieves can hide. Use noisy gravel pathways or bands around your house. Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the road. If you are away, use timers to activate lights in living areas.
The issue of home security systems was brought up. Some work, some don’t. Ones that provide monitoring are better. The officers were reluctant to make recommendations about security systems, but suggested people contact your home insurance providers, or the Better Business Bureau for knowledgeable advice. Also, on request it might be possible to have a retired police officer inspect your home and make recommendations. Specific tips and recommendations are available in brochures from the RCMP, and insurance companies.
One of the most helpful ways to protect from crime is to involve your neighbours. Inform them when you are away. Starting a BLOCK WATCH program in your neighbourhood is highly recommended. The Block Watch program provides lots of tips and ways to protect ourselves. But, perhaps most important, it can help improve our communication with the RCMP, and allow them to do a better job of preventing property crime. The police rely heavily on tips from the public and encourage us to phone them, and not to rely on others, or just hope other people make the call.
A number of other topics were brought up. One was the increasing use of computers to phish or to defraud seniors. Another problem is people having 911 on speed dial on their cell phones. This has caused what is can cause what is called “pocket calls”. This happens when the cell phone activates the 911 numbers and immediately ties up the 911 operator. Usually the cell phone operator is not even aware this has happened. So when not using it, lock your cell phone.