Senseless acts of vandalism cost everyone

When you have been working in the field of community-based crime prevention and security for as long as I have there is one thing you never get used to – senseless acts of vandalism.

Fact is, it costs all of us and in more ways than we realize. It ranges from graffiti and broken windows to egging and paint balling property. The list is long and is only limited by the thoughtless perpetrators who have nothing better to do with their time.

It’s not just the hard costs we all pay for but the impact it has on how we function day to day and even how we feel.

After residing in Red Deer for the past seven years, my wife and I recently moved to the Town of Penhold. Within the first few weeks, we received a warm welcome from vandals that proceeded to “puncture” all the tires on my vehicle.

Considering I waited four hours for a flatbed tow truck, had no vehicle while it was being repaired and the insurance claim, it was a costly incident. Town officials and the Innisfail RCMP were quick to respond. However, they understand, as I do that these types of incidents are random and the culprits are rarely apprehended.

In cases such as this and many others, the very fabric of a community is torn and the best course of action is education and awareness through preventative measures. Citizens must realize that there is strength in numbers and their ongoing vigilance is required at all times.

We should be watching out for each other and “acting” quickly when we have valuable information that will help the police or various agencies that help protect our interests and our property. That means reporting all crimes and doing it promptly! It does not mean placing ourselves at risk – call the police!

The costs we don’t always consider are those that manifest fear or those that lead to insurance rate hikes as a result of on-going claims for property crimes. A great example is graffiti. Areas covered by graffiti make some people feel that it’s not safe to be there. This can and does affect local business owners and potential customers that may shop elsewhere.

There are many solutions or best practices but we need to explore them carefully and then take action. For example, removing graffiti from property quickly is a best practice that works! What’s important is consistency and taking ownership in what is ours. If your property is not well taken care of, it will be a target for vandals!

While attending college and studying police science and criminology I clearly recall the Principles of Policing, developed by Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850). Peel’s most quotable principle states that “The police are the public and the public are the police.”

If you think about it, it’s a great philosophy because as members of the general public we should be playing an important role in creating safe communities and neighbourhoods.

We need to be the eyes and the ears and keep our streets free of crime. Most of us are not police officers but we can help make a difference and become partners in crime prevention. It’s not about how well we work alone, but how well we all work together!

Steve Woolrich is the director of SeCure Consulting Solutions Inc. – www.targetcrime.ca

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