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Friday, April 1, 2016

Important Security Tips from 22 Division

Over the past couple of weeks, we have had the opportunity to meet with Police officers from 22 Division and to learn some valuable security tips and information about recent crimes trends in our neighbourhoods, which we would like to share with you and your family.

Crime Prevention Tips

The Toronto Police Service publishes a number of helpful pamphlets about basic crime prevention techniques on everything from Apartment Security to Travelling Tips. Most of the information in these pamphlets is common sense, but they still serve as a helpful reminder. You can review the full collection of crime prevention pamphlets at torontopolice.on.ca/crimeprevention

For your convenience, we have updated the information under the Security Tips tab on our website, covering such topics as Home Security, Transit Safety, Senior Security, Distraction Theft and Online Safety.

For more detailed information on recent crime trends and security tips from 22 Division, please continue reading.

Report Every Crime, No Matter How Small

The Police remind us that their crime statistics are only as good as what gets reported to them. Some crimes are chronically under-reported (such as Theft from Vehicles or Distraction Theft) because victims may feel the crime is too small, or they may be too embarrassed to report it. Most crimes are committed by a small number of repeat offenders. Even the smallest incidents reported to the Police help track the actions of these offenders more accurately. If there’s a rise of incidents in a particular area, the Police will pay more attention to that area. If they need more resources to fight a rise in criminal activity, they can only get that if we report the crimes when they happen. So please, report every crime and help keep our community a safe place to live.

Distraction Thefts

Despite recent arrests, distraction thefts in 22 Division are still happening. These crimes are being committed by well-organized groups of criminals who are difficult to track. This type of crime is believed to be severely under-reported. Distraction Theft most often targets the the elderly, who may feel too embarrassed to report it. It is important to report all incidents of Distraction Theft to the Police, so we can put a stop to this type of crime.

CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) Telephone Scam

At this time of year, incidents of the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) telephone scam seem to be on the rise again. Callers claiming to be from the CRA insist that penalties are due and that they are sending law enforcement to the victim’s door unless they hand over payment. The Police are reminding us that the CRA will never make such phone calls and that they have no authority to send law enforcement to someone’s home. If you get a call like this, hang up and report it to the Police.

Robberies

The number of Robberies have increased by 59% in the past month (February-March 2016). Most robberies are occurring on school grounds (or nearby) and most involve the theft of smart phones. Robberies tend to occur on Fridays after school or in the evening. Thieves tend to be students from other schools, rather than from the same school as the victim.

Auto Thefts

The number of Auto Thefts have increased by 65% in the past month (February-March 2016), especially along The East Mall corridor. Most car thefts are occurring in the early morning or late evening, especially between Sunday and Monday. The cars most often stolen are older model Hondas (Accords, CRVs) and Accuras.

Thefts from Vehicles

The number of Thefts from Vehicles have decreased by 24% in the past month (February-March 2016). However, this is not believed to be accurate since many of these incidents are not reported. Most thefts from cars are occurring in the early morning or late night hours, most often on Saturdays. Most thefts from cars are occurring because owners have left their doors unlocked or left their valuables out in plain sight. Police strongly recommend keeping your car doors locked at all times and keeping your valuables out of sight – even your loose change. One officer told us he knows kids who break into a cars just to steal loose change (up to 50 cars a day) – which can add up to a lot, even if all they steal are loonies and toonies.

Break-and-Enter Incidents

In the first 2 months of 2016, there was a noticeable rise in Break-and-Enter incidents (more than 30) in the northeast quadrant of 22 Division (The Kingsway, Humber Valley Village). In the past month (February-March 2016), the number of Break-and-Enter incidents has decreased by 14%. Most residential break-ins occurred during the day (stolen jewelry, personal electronics, etc.), while most commercial break-ins occurred overnight (stolen tools, cash tills, etc.).

The Police would also like to remind everyone to keep their doors locked when they are working outside in their yard. As the weather gets warm at this time of year, it’s easier for thieves to quickly enter and exit unlocked homes without being noticed.

Most residential Break-and-Enter incidents in 22 Division occur during the day between 10am-3pm. These are usually not targeted break-ins. Targeted break-ins and home invasions are rare in 22 Division and are usually gang-related. When scoping out a home, crooks typically look for concealed entrances, no cars in the driveway and other tell-tale signs that a house might be vacant. They will almost always knock first to check if someone is home before attempting a break-in. Police recommend that instead of ignoring a knock on your door, you should at least call through the door to show that someone is home, even if you do not want to open the door to strangers.

Securing Your Home’s Entry Points

Break-and-Enter incidents in 22 Division most often occur through backyard patio doors (such as sliding glass doors), unsecured side entrances and garage doors, doors with poor construction or doors with weak frames. Police recommend securing the entrances to your home not just with a strong lock, but also with a strong door frame (such steel). Most often, a door’s weakest point is it’s frame.

One of the weakest entry points in many homes are the backyard patio doors (or sliding glass doors). Many break-ins in 22 Division involve crooks smashing a patio glass door or window with a rock from the homeowner’s own garden. Police recommend strengthening patio glass doors or windows with shatter-resistant laminate glass or an impact-resistant security film (available from 3M) which can be applied to your existing glass doors and windows. Police also caution against relying solely on “pinning” sliding patio doors, as crooks have been known to use a crowbar to simply force the door open. One of the most effective solution for securing a sliding patio door is to place a broom handle in the track.

Security and Lighting 

Police also recommend making sure that all entrances to your home are visible and well-lit. Make sure that your trees and bushes are regularly trimmed for better lines of sight. Also make sure that your entrances have good lighting. Police recommend using timers or motion sensors on outdoor lighting to help keep energy costs low, or solar-powered lighting and LED bulbs to lower energy consumption even further.

If your home is equipped with security cameras, make sure that your cameras can capture a clear picture under all lighting conditions and that they have clear lines of sight. Make sure that you know how to access the recordings when needed and check regularly that your recording device is working properly. Security footage may be useful as evidence following a break-in, but it’s of little use to investigators if the quality of the picture is poor or obscured. Also, make sure that your recording device is well secured or locked away. Thieves have been known to take these recorders with them when breaking into a home.

If you use an outdoor keypad (such as on your garage door), check the condition of the keys. On a keypad which has been used for a long time with the same access code, keys will often have faded numbers, discolouration or be slightly more depressed. This makes it easier for thieves to guess the access code and gain entry into your home. Police recommend that you change your code regularly to avoid this.

If you have a security company monitoring your home, check the call priority if an alarm is triggered. Homeowners often ask security companies to call a series of numbers first (home phone, work phone, cell phone, etc.) before calling the Police – often to avoid being charged in case of a false alarm. In most cases however, criminals are in an out of the home in less than a minute. Police recommend having your security company call them first. If your alarm is triggered, the security company will call the Police first and then call you. If it is a false alarm, simply tell your security company and they will cancel the call to the Police. You will not be charged for a false alarm (if applicable) unless the Police have actually shown up at your home. The Police say that cancelled alarm calls are very common and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

During a Break-and-Enter Incident

If someone breaks into your home while you are there. Police strongly recommend that you turn on all the lights and make a lot of noise to show that you are home and have called for help. Avoid the temptation to remain hidden or silent. In most cases, the perpetrator will run away once they realize that someone is home.

During most break-and-enter incidents in 22 Divison, thieves are in and out of the home in less than a minute. Thieves usually go straight for the bedrooms and turn out all of the drawers and closets looking for valuables such as jewelry, car keys, cameras, smart phones, tablets, laptops or popular Apple products. Jewelry is especially valuable to thieves because it’s often untraceable and easy to sell off at jewelry buyers and pawn shops. Police recommend that you keep photo records of your jewelry and record the serial numbers of your personal electronics, so it will be easier to return to you if the Police recover it.

The Police caution against storing your precious valuables in obvious locations such as a safe. If found, thieves will simply take the entire safe with them to open at a safe location – common store-bought safes can be easy to break into. Police also advise against hiding valuables in bedrooms where you sleep. If a thief does enter to home during the night, that’s where they will usually look first.

Also remember that those who break into homes do not usually fit the typical description of a burglar. In 2015, Police arrested a 45-year old eastern-european woman who had broken into 22 different homes. Be vigilant and mindful about the day-to-day patterns of people on your street, if you see something suspicious or out of place, please contact the Police immediately.

While on Vacation

Finally, if you are on vacation or plan to be away for an extended period of time, Police remind us to carefully consider who we divulge this information to. Many of us may ask a friend or neighbour to collect our mail and newspapers, cut our grass, shovel our driveway, etc., to make it appear as though someone is home. However, one should also consider not changing voicemail greetings or using e-mail vacation responders to announce that you are away, since you cannot control who that message gets passed along to (if you must, limit vacation responders to reply only to those in your contact list). Police also remind us to resist the temptation to post vacation photos on social media while on vacation, but instead wait until you have returned home before sharing your photos online.


If you have seen or heard anything suspicious, please contact the Police.
If you see a crime in progress, please call 9-1-1 immediately.