Car Prowling and Break and Enter
Car prowling is when a person or persons enters your vehicle, whether it’s locked or not, with the intention of stealing property. The entry can be either by opening a door or physically breaking in. A break and enter is when a person or persons enters a structure (your home or garage; not vehicles) without consent with the intent of committing a criminal offence such as stealing or damaging your property.
In recent months, we have had some car prowling and break and enter crimes occur in the community. The majority are thefts from detached garages. These crimes have involved the stealing of bikes, electrical goods, sports equipment and tools. These tend to be crimes of opportunity with offenders coming into the community looking for soft targets. What we have found is that a high percentage of these offences were caused by an offender being able to enter through an unlocked door or garage, doors being left open or unlocked vehicles, where the garage door opener is stolen and the offender uses it to get in. We can make a direct connection between unlocked vehicles and the break and enters in the community. Car prowling’s basically become break and enters.
Residential break and enters are very low in number compared to detached garages. They do happen, however it’s less of an occurrence. When they do occur, they are usually when a rear door or window has been left open or unlocked. Actual break ins are even more unusual, and the offender will normally make sure no one’s home before entering. The chances of being challenged in the home by a criminal is very low.
9 p.m. Routine
Last year we introduced the 9 p.m. routine, a list of things to check at 9 p.m. everyday to make sure that you have covered off your security items before you go to bed. It has been very successful so please use it to help keep your families and property stay safe.
We cannot drop our guard but with simple prevention tips we can reduce the instances of these crimes happening. We have received amazing information from the community to assist us in dealing with this criminal activity, but we are still seeing some common mistakes that are allowing and assisting offenders to target our communities and create victims of crime.
Here are some crime prevention tips to help you to keep your property safe and prevent the risk of being a victim of crime:
Protect your valuables
Put curtains or blinds up to cover any windows in the garage or house, so thieves can’t look for items to steal, or see if your vehicle is there.
Make it secure
The man-door between your house and attached garage is always locked. It should swing inward into the garage, be solid core, and have a deadbolt lock. The same goes for other exterior person-doors on your garage. If you’re garage is detached, then always make sure the man door is locked and secure. The main garage door should only be open when you are present. Keep your overhead door closed and your other garage doors locked, even when you are at home.
Check your locks
Secure your man-doors with deadbolts (which need to be operated from the outside with a key).
Make it bright
Install lights near your garage to keep the area around doors and windows lit: These can be motion sensor or photo (light) sensitive, so that they turn on automatically when someone walks past or when the sun sets.
Put up a number
Put your house number on your garage, especially if it opens up into a back alley. This helps emergency personnel to identify which house is yours.
Catalogue your garage’s contents, including serial numbers of valuable items and vehicle identification numbers. Taking photographs, videos or digital recordings of contents can also help police and your insurance company if there’s a break-in, fire, or flood.
Never drive away without checking that your overhead garage door is down. Also check the operation of automatic doors once a month for safety (read your instruction booklet or contact the door’s manufacturer for details).
Keep bushes trimmed back from garage windows, to avoid letting thieves use the bushes to hide their break-in attempt or you can add spikey, aggressive and nasty plants (thorny bushes).
Lock up vehicles and high-value items such as lawnmowers even when they’re inside the locked garage.
Out of Town
Disconnect your automatic garage door opener when you’re out of town.
Turn it off
Never leave your vehicle running and unattended.
Hide your valuables
Wherever and whenever you park, remove your valuables. If that’s not practical (you’re in the middle of a shopping day, for example), hide the valuables in the trunk, out of sight, and then move the vehicle to a different place in the parking lot. Thieves watch parking lots to see who is stashing shopping bags and then heading back into the mall.
Please take your garage opener into the house with you. This is the number one reason for an offender entering garages, by stealing the opener from the car prior to stealing from the garage.
Stow it right
If you have a garage, use it and lock it. If you don’t, choose a parking spot that’s as well-lit and well-travelled as possible, within sight of your windows.
If you see suspicious people in or around vehicles, call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234. And if your vehicle is broken into or stolen, report it to police right away, regardless of loss or insurance coverage. Break-ins are rarely isolated — reporting them immediately with as much detail as possible can help police in their investigation
Thanks, and keep safe!
Constable Sheppard, 4386
District 2 CRO