Holiday Tips

Holiday Tips

Many of us know the regular safety precautions to take during the holiday season but even as I was doing the research I found some new tips for myself. I hope this list will help to ensure we all have a happy and safe holiday season.

Top Tips

Personal

  1. Whether at holiday parties or out with friends, be sure to designate a driver. There are many ways to get home safely whether it is using public transit, taxis, designated-driver services or calling a friend; it is important that everyone get home safely.
  2. Park in well-lit areas and those closest to building entrances. If possible don’t walk alone. Wait for others going the same direction as you or go with friends or family. Whether you are going out or shopping there is safety in numbers.
  3. Always have your keys ready whether you are getting in your car or entering your home. Be aware of who and what is around you.

At Home

  1. Do not leave boxes from big-ticket purchases out for recycle. It notifies potential thieves of what high-value items are in your home. Consider taking boxes to a recycle centre yourself.
  2. If you have a home security system, be sure to set the alarm every time you leave.
  3. Make sure that your house address is well-lit and visible from the street. Do not cover your address with decorations.

Online

  1. Use trusted websites. Look for a padlock icon in the upper right corner of any page asking for your credit card information to indicate it is secure. Monitor your bank accounts closely.
  2. Never give away your PIN code online.
  3. Always open websites in a new browser before entering any personal information.

Shopping

  1. When making a purchase, don’t take your eyes off of your debit card if someone else is handling it.
  2. When using debit or credit cards, make sure to cover the pin pad when entering the PIN and never give your PIN to anyone else.
  3. Don’t leave bags or packages in your vehicle in a parking lot. If you need to continue shopping, make sure bags are out of sight. Always lock your vehicle.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. Being distracted is an opportunity for a thief intent on stealing your belongings. Be cautious of strangers who approach you while shopping.
  5. Do not leave your bags, purse or purchases unattended at any time.

Going out of town

  1. Be sure to notify a neighbour that you will be away. Ask them to collect all flyers and mail that land on your doorstep (even if you are only away for a couple of days).
  2. Leave light and noise on in your home. Using timers to turn lights and radios on are a great way to give the appearance that your home is occupied.
  3. Don’t post on social media that you are going away. Save those pictures and posts for when you return home.
  4. If you are driving, keep an emergency kit and blankets in your vehicle. Make sure someone knows your travel route and the time you plan to arrive at your destination.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

 

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch (ENW) is a not-for-profit, charitable, volunteer passive crime prevention organization.
Whats-in-the-toolbox

What’s in the Tool-Box?

This month I am sharing information about a few crime prevention tools.  Some have been around for a while, others are new and one will be re-launched by ENW in early 2016.

ENW Awareness Program

http://enwatch.ca/awareness-program/

The ENW Awareness Program is geared to help residents learn more about crime prevention strategies and tools. ENW shares “Tips” via social media to remind us all of the simple things we can each do to help protect ourselves and our property from crime. The ENW website provides information on programs that can be done by individuals or on a community level. Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch also produces and shares print material. Follow us on social media at Facebook (edmontonwatch) & Twitter @enwatchinfo

Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Neighbourhood Crime Map

http://crimemapping.edmontonpolice.ca/

neighbourhood-crime-mapping

This online tool allows the user to see where reported crime is happening in a particular neighbourhood. By selecting a neighbourhood, a date range and the type(s) of crimes, you can see the real “picture” of crimes reported to the Edmonton Police Service. The site is updated daily so you can get timely and relevant information. If you know what’s really going on in your neighbourhood you are better able to make crime prevention decisions.

Car Curfew

http://www.edmontonpolice.ca/carcurfew

Theft of auto is a growing problem in Edmonton. To help “curb” this problem the EPS initiated the Car Curfew program. It is a free, voluntary program that aims to prevent vehicle theft, and aids EPS patrol members in identifying potentially stolen vehicles. This program was designed to draw the attention of police officers to vehicles not normally operated between 1:00am and 5:00am (and may potentially be stolen). Once the decal is affixed to the rear window it identifies the vehicle has an intended curfew of 1:00am. If the vehicle is in operation between 1:00am and 5:00am, a police offer may stop the vehicle and the driver will have to verify ownership or prove consent by the owner. The Car Curfew reflective decals are available from any local EPS station.

Neighbourhood Watch Door Sticker Program

http://enwatch.ca/

Coming in early 2016 Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch will relaunch a Door Sticker program. The goal is to reach residents about crime prevention and how important it is to get to know your neighbours, to get to know your neighbourhood, to report all crimes, and to report suspicious activities to the police. Residents who participate will receive crime prevention information and a sticker for their door/entranceway identifying they are a Neighbourhood Watch participant.

 

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch (ENW) is a not-for-profit, charitable, volunteer passive crime prevention organization.
theres-an-app-for-that

There’s an App for That

One thing that many of us rely on are mobile apps. If there’s a need, there’s an app for that.  Keeping your calendar, checking your social media or even tracking the number of steps you take in a day.  But did you know there are apps that ENW promotes which help create safer neighbourhoods?

ENW has programs that get residents out and about in their community such as Walk Your Block. Residents are encouraged to walk in their neighbourhoods, not as a patrol, but as a member of the community, getting to know who andwhat belongs in the neighbourhood. Being visible and active in your neighbourhood is a great crime deterrent.  Not only are you helping prevent crime, it gives you the opportunity to meet your neighbours while getting the added health benefit of walking.  While you are out you may notice that something needs someone’s attention.  You can address the issue using your smart phone through the use of mobile apps.  You don’t even need to know who to call… you don’t even have to “call”.


edmonton-311 The City of Edmonton has a mobile app called “Edmonton 311”. Using it is similar to calling 311. You can report items that need the City’s attention like bylaw or maintenance issues (potholes, sidewalk repairs, parks, etc.)  You can also report flooded roads, traffic sign issues as well as litter, graffiti, vandalism and more.  You take a photo, add a short description, provide contact information & submit.  This app can be used anywhere within Edmonton city limits.

If you have a problem or issue and don’t know who to call, use the app “Disorder Reporter”. You take a picture, enter some details and let your GPS figure-out the location.  This app works anywhere in Alberta.  The app uses GPS to enter your location. So, even if you are on a rural road, in a field or don’t have an address to reference this app will locate the position.  Volunteers from Disorder Reporter receive the report, figure out who to call and they report the issue on your behalf.

edmonton-police-service-appThe Edmonton Police Service also has a mobile app “EPS Mobile”.  With this app you can receive alerts, access EPS Facebook & Twitter, read news or stories and you can even REPORT A CRIME such as damage to property or a vehicle, lost property, theft from your vehicle & theft under $5000.

In the next few weeks ENW will be launching a mobile app “ENW Mobile”. The app will register you as an ENW participant.  That simply means you care about crime prevention in your community.  The first program available through the app will be the Walk Your Block program where you can register for the program and log your walks… all right from the comfort of your smart phone.  Check out our website www.enwatch.ca for updates in the coming weeks.

 

 

Remember!

If you see a crime in progress and there is imminent danger to life or property call 911.

If you see suspicious activities or person, don’t wait don’t hesitate, call the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567.  Every minute counts.

 

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

 

 

who-is-at-the-door

Who’s at the door

An issue identified by the Edmonton Police Service recently inspired me to write on a problem that many people have heard about and some of us have experienced.  It is people coming to your door and posing as a representative for well-know and credible companies such as power & gas, phone or alarm companies.  This is a scam that criminals have been doing for years.  The best way to stop it from happening is to practice good crime prevention strategies and reporting it to police when it does happen.

The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to open the door. However, if you do want to speak with the person at the door – use safety precautions.

  • Use a peephole, a side window, chain lock or stand behind your locked screen door.
  • If you only have a single exterior door, open the door partially and ask the person to take a step back.
  • Ask who they are and what they want.
  • Always ask to see identification. If they do not have identification it’s not likely that they represent that “well-known” company. If they have ID, you can contact the company to verify.  If they are legitimate, they won’t mind waiting for you.
  • NEVER let your children answer the door to a stranger.
  • NEVER let someone in your home unless you called for that service.

The reasons for this type of activity is often to gain entry to your home.  Once they have gained entry in your home all types of crimes are then possible.  But even if nothing happens at that time, these criminals may be casing your home for a future robbery.  These type of criminals will try many ways to pray-upon your fear that something is wrong in your home and that it needs THEIR attention.

Recently in Edmonton two men were in a neighbourhood saying they were from Epcor or the City of Edmonton.  They claimed that there was a law requiring them to check on the furnace.  That was a ploy to gain entry to the home.  And when many residents did not allow them in, they became aggressive.  The City of Edmonton or utility companies would not come to your door in this manner – and they certainly would not be aggressive or use scare tactics to enter your home.

If someone comes to your door and gets aggressive, they won’t take “NO” for an answer or they are suspicious, the Edmonton Police Service has asked that you try and get as much information as possible (description, time of day, vehicle if used, etc.) and immediately call the non-emergency line at 780-423-4567.

Be aware because this can happen in any neighbourhood in the city.

 

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

Why-Report-a-Crime

Why Report a Crime?

Over the last year I have heard from many people that they do not report minor crimes or property crimes. A lot of people think that the only reason to call the police is to get a police response to “that” crime.  However, reporting crimes is important for a few reasons.

The reason to report a crime is not just to catch a perpetrator or to get the police to solve that crime.  Sometimes nothing can be done about a crime which already occurred, however the information gathered about that crime may be able to help police predict or anticipate future criminal behaviour and activity.  Police forces all across North America use statistical analysis as one tool in helping to solve and prevent crime.  Members of the community can help in many ways.  The most productive is to practice crime prevention strategies (become a hard target for crime). But, if you become a victim of any type of crime – REPORT IT.  When crimes are reported, that data can be analyzed by the police to anticipate where and even when crimes may happen.  The more data, the better chance of catching the criminals.  What if your neighbourhood recently had several incidents of car thefts and you saw someone pulling the door handles along your street.  Without the initial reports neither you nor the police would know to watch for suspicious activities.  But knowing about the recent crime, would you be more likely to report that suspicious person?  Would the police be more likely to respond knowing of the recent increase in crime in that area?

Our neighbourhood experienced a rash of vandalism.  We called the police to REPORT IT.  Then while cleaning it up, we talked with a couple of neighbours and told them we reported it and why. We knew the police would not be able to find the perpetrators but we knew that statistics on crimes can play a role in policing.  Although our case was not too serious it was worth reporting.  About a week later our neighbour found broken lights on his property and on the road.  After some discussions with them and other neighbours we found that there were over a dozen incidents in the previous few weeks.  Some were minor but one was more serious. A garage door was so badly damaged it had to be replaced.  Our neighbourhood clearly had a vandalism problem and unfortunately no one reported any of it initially. Since then reports were made.  Now, not only are the police aware but our neighbours are working together. We keep an eye out for each other, and we are informing other neighbours as well.  We all know how important it is to report crimes and suspicious activity or persons.

By reporting crimes we can help EPS identify if a crime wave is in a neighbourhood.  The police only know about spikes in crimes if crimes are reported.  By reporting we can provide more information to the police. The more information that is received the more accurately and quickly they can identify and apprehend the suspects.  So, if you are victim of a crime REPORT IT!

The EPS has made it very easy to report a crime.  You can report crimes such as: Damage to Property, Damage to Vehicle, Lost Property, Theft from Vehicle under $5,000 or Theft under $5,000.

  • Online at edmontonpolice.ca and click on “Report a Crime Online”.
  • Using your mobile device app called “EPS Mobile”.

Any crime or suspicious person/activity can be reported by calling

  • 780-423-4567
  • #377 from your mobile phone

Until next time… 
Debbie Sellers, ENW

danielwoodallCondolences article

In Memory of Constable Daniel Woodall

It is with a heavy heart that I write this month.  It was hard to find the right words to share in light of the tragic events of June 8th which I am sure are weighing heavy on many hearts in Edmonton.  This month I am sharing some of the things I thought about over the last few of days.

Let me express deepest condolences to Constable Daniel Woodall’s family, friends and colleagues on behalf of myself, my family, Edmonton Neighbourhood Watch, our Board of Directors and our entire membership.  No greater sacrifice could Cst. Woodall have made for the people of Edmonton.  No greater sacrifice will his wife Claire, his two young sons and the rest of his family make for the rest of their lives.  Edmontonians are and will be forever in their debt.

To the members of the Edmonton Police Service, thank you for all that you do.  Thank you for your service, your commitment and your willingness to protect us when you are in harm’s way yourself.  Our sincerest condolences for the loss of your colleague and friend.  To Sargent Jason Harley, thank you for your courage and may you find healing in the days, weeks and months ahead.

As more and more of the blue ribbons appeared on people’s lapels and on social media pictures and profiles, I kept seeing and reading those three words: Integrity, Courage and Community.  The more I read them the more I realize how true they are of the Edmonton Police Service and the people of Edmonton.

Integrity is a quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  As more than 53 bullets were fired at EPS officers, not one was fired back.  I asked myself: would that happen anywhere else? In other cities would a barrage of bullets been fired in to that home?  But even under fire, the brave men and women with EPS maintained a level of calm and integrity that few of us could imagine.  The EPS are an incredible example of “to serve and protect” and immeasurable integrity.

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one or to have strength in the face of pain, fear or grief.  The EPS everyday conduct what many people think are routine events. But nothing is routine anymore.  When RCMP Cst. Wynn was shot dead in a parking lot in St. Albert he was doing a “routine” license plate check.  It is clear that nothing is routine anymore.  It takes a kind of courage that only first responders can understand that would allow Sgt. Harley & Cst. Woodall to walk to a door to execute a warrant.  Courage is going one direction when every instinct in you tells you to go the other.

Community is something that Edmontonians know well.  It is described as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.  The Edmonton Police Service does not just protect Edmontonians from a crime but they help uphold our shared values of a society that does not tolerate hate.  As members of the hate crimes unit, Sgt. Harley, Cst. Woodall and the other members of the team that day were in harm’s way to preserve a peaceful and tolerant society. They not only protect our citizens, EPS protects the very values of our community.

Edmonton has always been a community of people who gather together in times of need and tragedy.  Now is the time we can support the Woodall family, the Harley family and the members of EPS.  There are many ways you can offer your support.

For the members of the Woodall family you can sign a condolence book. Each of the EPS Division Stations has one set up in their lobby.  You can buy an EPSstrong t-shirt where the proceeds will go directly to Cst. Woodall’s family.  You can post on Facebook and Twitter or use the hashtag #EPSstrong.  You can also email condolences@edmontonpolice.ca. There are two ways to make financial contributions. the D. Woodall Family Fund has been established at RBC and contributions can be made at any RBC branch.  There is also an Edmonton Police Association Go Fund Me fundraiser where you can make an online donation (gofundme.com/CstDanielWoodall).

For the community you can tie a blue ribbon around a tree, a post or on your front door. Placing a blue ribbon is a visible show of support to the Woodall family, the EPS and our community.  You can also leave your porch light on in honor of Cst. Woodall as well as lighting up the night so that all first responders have visibility at night should they need to respond in your neighbourhood.

For the Edmonton Police Service you can send condolences through social media or send them to any police station.  You can THANK THE POLICE!  And, the next time you see a member of the EPS, remember that nothing is “routine” anymore.  An offer of a hand shake or a simple thank you lets them know that we do appreciate and understand that they truly do protect and serve.

 

Until next time… 
Debbie Sellers, ENW

Theft-from-Auto-&-Theft-of-Auto

Theft from Auto & Theft of Auto

Have you ever wondered what crimes are the most prevalent in the Edmonton area or in your neighbourhood?  According to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), theft from & theft of auto is currently the #1 crime in Edmonton.  Also, not all of these crimes are being reported to police which indicates that it is even more serious than the numbers demonstrate.  And the sad part is that most of these crimes can be prevented.  They are most often crimes of opportunity.  Criminals are generally looking for easy targets, quick grabs and vulnerable property.

Most people don’t realize that someone looking for money will smash a window worth hundreds of dollars to grab some loose change from a console.  A pair of sunglasses on your dash worth $80 can be pawned for $3.  An open door can result in your car being stolen in less than a minute. A garage door opener left in your vehicle can expose your home to a much bigger crime.  Not only are you left with the cost of the broken or stolen property and the need for an insurance claim, but the criminal will have taken your sense of security and safety.

Theft of Vehicle & Theft from Vehicle can be prevented in almost all cases

KEYS: Never leave your vehicle unattended with the keys in it. That vehicle can be stolen in less than 15 seconds.  Do not leave your keys in the ignition when you refuel your vehicle.  If you are on the opposite side of the vehicle, a thief can get in your car, start it and drive away before you get to the driver’s door. It’s gone in under 20 seconds.  And never leave a spare key in or around the vehicle.  Car thieves know where to look.

TARGET VEHICLES: According to EPS, the most popular stolen vehicles at this time in Edmonton are Dodge Caravans and Plymouth Voyagers.  Ford Escorts, Saturns and Hondas are running second. Larger Ford Trucks (F250/F350) are third.

LOCKED & CLOSED: Be diligent; lock your vehicle always – even in your garage.  Any vehicle with an unlocked door is an easy target.  Also ensure that windows and sunroofs are closed. Easy access in to the vehicle makes it a target.

ADDED SECURITY: If you have a car alarm – USE IT.  And if you don’t have one, consider an after-market alarm.  The cost of an after-market alarm may be less than your deducible if your vehicle was stolen or vandalized.  Plus some insurance companies offer a discount if you add a car alarm.  Another great add-on security feature is the use of a steering wheel lock (like the club).

CONTENTS: Remove all visible valuables such as loose change, portable GPS devices, cell phones, sunglasses, cameras, clothing and even cigarettes.  And, always ALWAYS remove your garage door opener.  Use the “All Valuables Removed” placard to remind you to remove your valuables from visible site.  And don’t leave your car registration and insurance in the glove box or console.  Carry it with you or lock it in your trunk.

PARKING: Park where it is safest.  Find spots that are well-lit and near security cameras.  The best spots are those where people are working nearby like a parking booth or near a cross walk, busy street or popular pedestrian walkway.

And should you become a victim of this type of crime REPORT IT.  Always report a crime. If you see suspicious behavior REPORT IT.  These types of calls help the police track and catch criminals in the act.  If the police know of similar activity in a particular area (based on calls from reported crimes) and you call to report similar suspicious people in an area nearby, the police are ready to respond.  With the community’s commitment to REPORT crimes and REPORT suspicious persons and activities, it will MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

 

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

neighbours

Party Your Way to Crime Prevention

This spring & summer ENW wants to help neighbours become more connected.

With the busy lives that we all lead it is hard to find the time to do something new.  It’s also difficult or uncomfortable to introduce yourself to a stranger, even if that stranger lives next door to you. Whether you have been in your neighbourhood for only a few months or many years, introductions are tricky for some of us. What do I say? How do I start? What if after I say hello there’s silence in the conversation?  Oh no, awkward silence. Sometimes those thoughts make us unsure of how to start and often it stops us from trying.

One of the most significant things that you can do to help prevent crime in your neighbourhood or on your street is to get to know your neighbour.  Neighbours who know one another look out for one another. When you know your neighbours, you know who and what belongs in and around the area.  With familiarity you can find comfort in knowing that you can knock on a door to tell your neighbour they have left their garage door open. You can pick up the bike their child forgot on the public sidewalk and place it safely in the yard.  If you go away on vacation it can put your mind at ease that your home is safe because you have a neighbour to keep an eye on your property.  I often tell my neighbours that we are going away and let them know they shouldn’t see any activity at our house.  And, if they see a moving van, call the police.

The best way to approach a neighbour is to have a reason.

And the best way to get familiar is to spend time with them.  But how do you do that when fewer and fewer neighbours know each other?  What’s the ice-breaker? The answer is to have a BLOCK PARTY!  Block parties can be arranged for your street, for a couple of streets, your neighbourhood or your entire community league.  And ENW wants to help you facilitate planning one.

ENW has a Block Party Program starting the first week in June that will run until Labour Day weekend.  There are limited bookings available.  You may ask, why do you need our help? What’s in it for ENW? What’s in it for your neighbourhood?  Those are simple answers.  We provide you with access to a Block Party kit that will walk you through how to hold a block party.  We can help with getting a permit if you need to block the road, or by providing connections to businesses that offer discounts and possibly donations for an ENW Block Party (e.g. food supplies, etc.) We can provide you with road barricades, signage and even the invitations.  In return ENW asks that when you deliver the invites in your area, you distribute crime prevention information. That information will inform residents of some simple things they can do for themselves to protect themselves and their property.  It’s a win-win for everyone involved, it’s a benefit for the entire community and it helps to make your street and neighbourhood a hard target for crime.

Consider organizing an ENW Block Party in your neighbourhood!

Details will be available on May 1st on our website www.enwatch.ca under Programs.

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW

fraud prevention

March is Fraud Prevention Month

March is Fraud Prevention Month. “Recognize fraud – Report fraud – Stop fraud”. Read more online at http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca. Find out about common scams, how to recognize a fraud and how to protect yourself. Report fraud online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by telephone at 1-888-495-8501. Here are a few of the simple tips:

  • Be cautious about calls, emails or mailings offering international bonds or lottery tickets, a portion of a foreign dignitary’s bank account, free vacations, or credit repair.
  • Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.
  • Don’t disclose personal information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance or driver’s license numbers to any business that can’t prove it is legitimate.
  • Shred unwanted personal information such as bank statements, credit card bills, unwanted receipts, cheques, pre-approved credit applications and old tax returns.

If a scam artist contacts you, or if you’ve been defrauded REPORT IT. Your reports are vital to the anti-fraud efforts of law enforcement agencies.

March is also the start of spring and a great time to get out of the house and to meet your neighbours. Do you know your neighbours? A Block Party is an excellent way for people in a neighbourhood to get to know one another. A significant factor that helps create safer communities is that when neighbours know each other, they look out for each other. And, by knowing who is from your neighbourhood it becomes easier to identify suspicious activities or vehicles.

I know the benefits of a block party from personal experience. I was not involved with Neighbourhood Watch until our neighbourhood had an increase in auto-related crime and a more serious incident occurred on my street. A neighbour living just two doors down had their vehicle broken into, which gave the thieves access to the garage door opener, and thereby access to their HOME… it was a frightening experience for that young family and the neighbourhood. So, four families rallied together and planned a block party. We invited all the neighbours to come. Everyone introduced themselves and spent some time getting to know each other. The best thing that came from it is that now most of our neighbours are comfortable enough with each other to call, text or knock on the door. If someone sees that a neighbour may have “forgotten” something like a garage door left open, or a bike left on the front lawn, they let the neighbour know. And, if a neighbour is going on vacation, someone that lives on the street is willing to keep an eye on their property. The biggest bonus has been that it has created a true sense of community on our street.

Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW