WHAT CAN PEO­PLE DO TO PREVENT CRIME IN GANDER?

Gander res­i­dents do­ing what they can to curb crime

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY ADAM RANDELL Adam.randell@the­cen­tralvoice.ca

There have been 23 re­ported break and en­ters since June 1, with only one ar­rest in re­la­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to an Oct. 29 me­dia state­ment from the RCMP, a per­son who was found in pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty had been charged. The state­ment also in­di­cates in­ves­ti­ga­tions are still on­go­ing, and the pub­lic is be­ing en­cour­aged to con­tact the lo­cal de­tach­ment or Crime Stop­pers with any in­for­ma­tion they may have.

Still, res­i­dents con­tinue to look at ways of pro­tect­ing their homes.

Neigh­bour­hood Watch

For more than a year Mu­nic­i­pal En­force­ment has been build­ing to­wards a Neigh­bour­hood Watch for the town.

While meet­ing at­ten­dance was low at the start, as the number of break and en­ters be­gan to climb so did in­ter­est in the pro­gram.

For in­stance, a Novem­ber 2017 meet­ing only drew 10 peo­ple, in­clud­ing coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Dur­ing the Oct. 4, 2018, Neigh­bour­hood Watch meet­ing – after some 18 break and en­ters were re­ported within a five-month span – more than 100 peo­ple filled the lo­cal fire de­part­ment’s meet­ing hall, where the gath­er­ing was held.

A sec­tion of Yea­ger St. is clos­ing in on a year for its Neigh­bour­hood Watch pro­gram, and ac­cord­ing to Nel­son Os­mond, one of the block cap­tains, it has been proven to be an ef­fec­tive ap­proach.

In the past, Os­mond said, there had been break and en­ter in­ci­dents in his area of town, but since the signs went up on the street, and on the back of houses ad­ja­cent to a nearby walk­ing trail about Neigh­bour­hood Watch, there hasn’t been an is­sue to re­port.

Along with the signs, as a vis­ual re­minder, he said com­mu­ni­ca­tion and at­ten­tive­ness was the key to build­ing a suc­cess­ful pro­gram for the eight-home cov­er­age area.

“Our com­mu­ni­ca­tions are fairly good, we have reg­u­lar chats with our neigh­bours, and if there’s any­thing go­ing on we try and keep an eye on it,” Os­mond said. “It’s not a mat­ter of be­ing nosey but a mat­ter of know­ing what’s go­ing around you and help­ing out your neigh­bour.”

So­cial me­dia vig­i­lance

Stacey Green­ing has been lead­ing the charge on a so­cial me­dia cam­paign to keep Gander res­i­dents in­formed about crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in the com­mu­nity.

She started the Face­book page “Gan­ders Com­mu­nity Watch for the Pub­lic” about three months ago, after some­one broke into her boyfriend’s car. In an­other in­ci­dent, their chain­saw was stolen.

After see­ing re­lated so­cial me­dia posts, she re­al­ized she wasn’t alone.

“Ev­ery sec­ond day you would see posts about some­one’s house be­ing bro­ken into, and I don’t think peo­ple re­al­ized how much of a prob­lem it ac­tu­ally is,” she said.

Green­ing cre­ated the page to cen­tral­ize peo­ple’s con­cerns. While at first any­one could join, now the mem­bers – over 1,000 of them – have to be ap­proved first.

The page re­ports on known break and en­ters in the com­mu­nity and serves as a vir­tual watch group for its mem­bers, as sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity is also posted to in­form res­i­dents.

“I try to watch what peo­ple are post­ing, be­cause some­one walk­ing up the road might not be that sus­pi­cious… but I do want peo­ple to be aware of things that are hap­pen­ing, some­one walk­ing up the road at 3 a.m., in a dark hoodie, wear­ing a back­pack, look­ing in drive­ways, that’s fairly sus­pi­cious.”

The page’s mem­bers have been re­spon­sive, she said.

“Last week, there were con­cerns about slow-mov­ing ve­hi­cles,” she said. “It turns out the Scouts were out sell­ing ap­ples, but at least it shows peo­ple are pay­ing at­ten­tion to what’s hap­pen­ing in their com­mu­nity.”

If sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity is wit­nessed, it’s a mat­ter for the RCMP, she said.

“Post after the po­lice have been con­tacted and post so peo­ple in the said area can be on the look­out or check their cam­eras,” Green­ing said. “I do not pro­mote peo­ple han­dling things their own way. It’s about aware­ness and help­ing neigh­bors, just like Neigh­bor­hood Watch pro­grams.”

Green­ing feels the es­tab­lish­ment of the page has brought a light to the on­go­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“It’s even a big­ger prob­lem than I thought it was,” she said. “Since the page, it seems like ei­ther it has got­ten worse or that the ac­knowl­edge­ment is now there.”

Se­cur­ing your home

Hav­ing an ex­ten­sive back­ground in se­cu­rity, Shel­don Han­cock is do­ing his part as well.

While the owner of IT Se­cu­rity NL is largely fo­cused on the dig­i­tal side of things – the pro­tec­tion of com­puter sys­tems and net­works from theft or dam­age to hard­ware – he also does phys­i­cal se­cu­rity.

“My neigh­bours were al­ways ask­ing me about ways they could pro­tect their home, so I thought maybe I have some in­for­ma­tion the pub­lic would like to get their hands on,” Han­cock said.

He started writ­ing what was sup­posed to be a three-page doc­u­ment on home se­cu­rity. It ended up be­ing 48-pages long.

The free on­line doc­u­ment cov­ers the full gam­bit of home se­cu­rity – from de­tect­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, hinge and lock pref­er­ences, to lo­cal sup­ports – such as vic­tim ser­vices and Door­ways (a walk-in coun­selling ser­vice of­fered by Cen­tral Health).

“After a break in oc­curs, you go into a re­cov­ery phase,” Han­cock said. “You want to make sure home is se­cure, but men­tal well­ness plays a fac­tor as well… be­cause it can be a trau­matic event, peo­ple feel vi­o­lated.”

The com­mon go to, he said, are cam­era and se­cu­rity sys­tems.

Han­cock doesn’t have a prob­lem with this ap­proach, but states there are other mea­sures that can be availed of to pro­vide mul­ti­ple lev­els of sup­port.

Doors locks, he said, as an ex­am­ple, can be strength­ened with dead­bolts and dou­ble latch plates re­in­forced with screws long enough to pen­e­trate wooden studs.

By hav­ing pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures in place, it re­quires more ef­fort, more time and draws more at­ten­tion to what an in­truder is do­ing.

The prop­erty pro­tec­tion re­port, pub­lished Sept. 18, has been viewed more than 7,300 times, and can be found on the home­page of www.it­se­cu­ri­tynl. ca

ADAM RANDELL — THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

At an Oct. 4 meet­ing of Neigh­bour­hood Watch, more than 100 Gander res­i­dents showed up to voice their con­cerns about the number of break and en­ters oc­cur­ring in their com­mu­nity.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

To help shine a light on the crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity tak­ing place in Gander, Stacey Green­ing cre­ated the Face­book page “Gan­ders Com­mu­nity Watch for the Pub­lic”. The page high­lights known break and en­ters in the com­mu­nity, and its mem­bers can re­port sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity in their neigh­bour­hoods.

ADAM RANDELL — THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Fol­low­ing a string of break and en­ters in Gander, busi­ness owner Shel­don Han­cock has pro­duced a 48-page doc­u­ment on prop­erty pro­tec­tion. Pub­lished Sept. 19, the free on­line doc­u­ment has been viewed more than 7,300 times.

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