In December during the holiday season RCMP Constable Stephen Gomes created a project called the Virden Locked-Door Initiative, focussing on crime prevention of vehicle thefts and personal belongings.
Gomes said, “I have been to incidents that involved stolen vehicles which lead to the creation of this project to spread awareness of the importance of locking-up your vehicles. In some of these incidents, vehicles were left unlocked with the keys in the ignition.”
He began by checking vehicles at the local co-op grocery store in the evening.
“I checked over 75 vehicles. I found a pattern of at least three vehicles out of 10 being unlocked and with valuables in plain view. I placed flyers on vehicles indicating if their vehicle were left locked or unlocked and which valuables could be observed from the outside.”
He conducted similar checks in the downtown area and near the post office, finding some vehicles were left running, keys in the car and the doors unlocked.
To prevent crimes, the RCMP advises the public to lock their vehicles and store belongings out of sight, even if they are only away for a couple of minutes. It only takes a couple of seconds for a vehicle to be stolen.
“The worse thing for the RCMP to see is good, hard-working people being victims of theft when it can easily be prevented,” says Gomes. “I have been to my fair share of incidents involving thefts and these victims involved wished that they did things differently.”
Personal information such as vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, health cards and other documents can be used to commit further crimes. In other situations, symbolic and irreplaceable things (pictures, gifts, or meaningful items) may be stolen.
In speaking with many people at the grocery store Gomes found many were “grateful and said that it was great to some crime preventive duties over the holidays. Some who left their doors unlocked apologized immediately to me.” He advised there was no need to apologize, and explained the Locked-Door initiative and the importance of locking vehicles and storing away belongings to prevent theft and even fraud.
Police visibility in a community tends to deter crimes and even driving infractions says Gomes. Another upside that he found, “This project also helped me meet many individuals in the Virden community.”