Keep your garage door closed - it will send a message.

Mike and Myrna live on a quiet street just inside the perimeter. It’s been their home for the past 25 years. They love and trust their neighbours and have no intentions of leaving. There’s a comfort that comes with this familiarity – so much so they seldom shut their garage door or lock the people door that leads into the house from the garage … that is until one day in July.

Keep your garage door closed – it will send a message.

That’s when someone rolled up on a bicycle, saw the garage door opened and simply walked in, and then tried the people door leading to the home. It was unlocked. Out of habit, Myrna would leave her car keys and purse on a counter right by the door. This made it very simple for the culprit to grab and drive off in the car. He also had her purse in hand and began using her bank card and credit card.

This is a Break and Enter. It is upsetting. And, it is something that could happen to ANY of us.

It’s in part why we’ve launched this series of columns. We hope to share with you crime prevention information you can use and steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of being victimized. 

Crime prevention is a big part of what the Winnipeg Police Service does but it needs the support and watchful eye of the citizens of Winnipeg.

Mike and Myrna’s story is based on true events. We changed their names for privacy. It’s a timely tale, as many of us spend our time making the most of the warmer weather. This means spending more time in our backyards, on our balconies or just down the street visiting with neighbors and introducing ourselves to new ones.

No one should take that enjoyment from you, but we must be mindful of our surroundings and the steps we can take to prevent crimes before they happen.

Hindsight being 20/20, Mike and Myrna wish they had a closed that garage door, locked their front door and set their house alarm. For someone looking to commit a crime of opportunity, an open garage door is a like a flashing sign that screams “WE ARE OPEN”.

Taking the opportunity to lock all the doors to your home including the lock on the people door is hard to remember after 25 years of not feeling the need to lock up. Times are changing and we must change with them.

Both Mike and Myrna have learned a tough lesson and if you stop by their home now you will NOT find Myrna’s purse and keys to the car on the entry-way counter. Not just for the concern of a criminal walking in unannounced and helping himself; but so that it is out of-site/out-of-mind for the occasional service person or delivery driver who may find themselves in Mike’s and Myrna’s home.

By and large we live in a safe community and we want you to recognize there and many good neighbors doing many great things all around us. But, that is not to say we shouldn’t be mindful that crimes of opportunity happen every day in all parts of the city. There are steps you can take to prevent crime and communicate with each other when we see or feel something is suspicious in your neighbourhood. We hope reading these columns and taking action on what you learn become two of those steps.

Working together we can make this a safer community in which to live, work and play.

By Patrol Sgt. Phil Penner and Constable Garnie McIntyre, members of Crime Prevention Section, Winnipeg Police Service.