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Canadians May Be Their Own Worst Enemy

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 26 August 2003 00:00

"It's a scary world out there," said one neighbour to another when they met on a Canadian street corner between heat waves. Comments like this are replacing the traditional Canadian "hot enough for you" mantra, but there is no humour or bonhomme in this resignation to the fates.

The twenty-first century is not fun. Rumblings of war and graphic photographs continue to fuel the growing unease in our daily lives. Headlines continue to blast us with violent extremes. Crime, murder, terrorism and robbery have become part of our everyday lives.

The media seem intent on making us feel increasingly vulnerable, but in most neighbourhoods, things are not as bad as we are afraid they might be. Yes, since 9/11, the automatic safety of Canadian communities seems ended, but we still live in a backwater of world violence. CNN may make you feel that the world and terrorism are in your livingroom, but they are not. Your reality is out your front door. Getting involved in local issues, meeting your neighbours and sharing your skills and knowledge for community improvement projects are still the best way to invest in security within your neighbourhood and within your home.

Action is always a good antidote to uncertainty. Although the Neighbourhood Watch Program ended this year, other local involvement programs are a great place to start if you find your feeling less in control of your surroundings.

Residents of one Toronto community decided to move into action when their neighbourhood seemed under siege. When police told residents of North Rosedale that professional thieves had targeted their community, the ratepayers association took action. The significant increase in home break-ins and car thefts put everyone on edge, but the North Rosedale Ratepayers Association (NRRA) did not stop with warning letters and suggestions on protecting property and possessions.

NRRA launched its "Be a nosey neighbor" campaign to encourage cooperation in making a quick and dramatic reduction in burglaries and car thefts. The campaign was designed to encourage residents to call police as soon as they saw anything or anyone out of the ordinary. Local police are ready to respond to this increased vigilance.

Here's what NRRA shared with its residents to make their community a safer place to live:

  • Most incidents seem to occur during dusk and early evening between 4pm and 9 pm.

  • Professional criminals may watch a targeted residence for a while before breaking in.

  • Burglars are cutting outside phone lines to disarm security systems and disabling outdoor lights before entering.

  • Thieves look for cash, car keys, jewelry and expensive items that can easily be removed from your home.

  • If thieves find no valuables, they may trash the home.

    While so many Canadians are away on holiday or at work all day, be a nosey neighbour. Call the police if you see unfamiliar people hanging about. Lock doors and windows even if you are only going to pop out for a minute. Remember to burglar-proof your sliding doors and windows with security bars. When there's no one home, leave the radio or television on so it sounds as if someone is there.

    We are not powerless. The decay of our communities is not inevitable. If you're not an active member of your ratepayers group, give them a call. Contribute to the security of your neighbourhood and your home by getting to know your neighbours.

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