WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO PREVENT CRIME IN GANDER?
Gander residents doing what they can to curb crime
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.
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
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.
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.
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.