You don’t have to rig up booby traps like Kevin from Home Alone to stay safe this Christmas.
In co-ordination with the Winnipeg Police Service, Point Douglas MLA Kevin Chief hosted a holiday season safety seminar at the North Centennial Recreation Facility (90 Sinclair St.) on Dec. 9.
The event focused on preventative tasks such as keeping your gifts stored out of sight, properly screening door-to-door donation solicitors, and not advertising you’re away on holiday on your voicemail.
"What’s really unique about this time of year is if you’re stolen from, there could be a greater sort of emotional cost," Chief said. "Families, whatever extra they have, they’re giving to their loved ones, so we want to make sure that we’re being very diligent."
Chief said one particularly affecting story at the event was that of a woman named Doreen. A volunteer at Christmas Cheer Board, Doreen (who asked that her last name not be used) was the victim of a vehicle break-in on Nov. 5.
Sick with bronchitis and pneumonia, Doreen had come home from the doctor’s office and was just running into her house for a minute to let her dog out. Because she was only going to be a minute, she left her purse in her vehicle. But, being ill, she decided to lay down for a bit and when she went back out to her car, she discovered it had been broken into.
"They took the time to rifle through my purse," Doreen said. "All they took was some money in an envelope for bills and my camera. That was the most devastating part. My husband passed away this year, and all of my last photos of him were on there."
"The money you struggle with, because it makes it hard before Christmas, but it’s the camera and the memories you can’t replace."
Annette Champion-Taylor, volunteer and program co-ordinator for the William Whyte Residents Association and a member of the Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP), was also at the holiday safety event.
Champion-Taylor encourages people to step forward and call the Winnipeg Police Service non-emergency line (204-986-6222) if they see suspicious activity in their neighbourhood, especially around this time of year.
"To lose money is one thing, but to lose our peace of mind is something completely different. It can completely ruin your holiday," Champion-Taylor said.
"It’s best to think ahead and be prepared and try everything you can to avoid (being a victim of crime)."
Here are a few of the Winnipeg Police Service’s holiday season safety tips:
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps, and keep wallets in an inside pocket. Deter pickpockets and purse snatchers by not overburdening yourself with packages. If you take some parcels out to your vehicle, put them in the trunk or out of sight. After storing these parcels, consider moving your vehicle before re-attending the store.
Be sure to always park in well-lit areas. When you return to your vehicle after shopping or parties, have your keys ready. As you approach your car, be aware of your surroundings — look around and into your vehicle before entering it. Lock your doors as soon as you get into your vehicle.
Protect your purchases
Once you have your purchases back home, protect them by not displaying them or their packaging to passersby. Close your curtains at night so that people can’t see inside your home. This can also be an ideal time to update or create a home inventory. Take photos or make videos of items and list their descriptions including serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, these records will make it easier for the police to identify and potentially return your property to you.