Police say: “Lock it or Lose it”

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Police and the two Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) students are reminding Amherstburg residents to “lock it or lose it.”

Sr. Constable Joan Lovell along with YIPI students Taylar Boswell and Nicole Acrey have been scouring Amherstburg and the surrounding areas and  have been handing out “Lock it or Lose it” brochures.

The brochures are being placed on windshields of vehicles’ and mailboxes. The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Insurance Bureau of Canada sponsor the “Lock It or Lose It” program.

Taylar Boswell places a “Lock it ot Lose it” brochure on a windshield of a van in a local parking lot.

According to Lovell, in June and July, an average of one report a week is filed from a resident who’s car had been entered and items stolen. The majority of the time, the cars were unlocked.

“We tend to get more in summer, it’s a crime of opportunity,” said Lovell. There’s a certain element of society that looks to get into someone’s stuff and steal it.”

Items reported stolen range from CD’s, cameras, GPS systems, laptops, IPods and even small change. There have even been a few incidents where wallets and purses left in cars have also been reported stolen.

Lovell said there are those who hit the streets with the intention of stealing from vehicles while other just walk down the street and act “in the moment” to see if a door is unlocked.

Acrey and Boswell have been hitting up local parking lots. However, they are not just handing them out in Amherstburg. The two YIPI students will be out in Malden and former Anderdon townships as well as River Canard and McGregor.

Lovell said the goal is to educate the public on the importance of locking your vehicle’s door and keep your valuables safe.

Acrey and Boswell both said they have come across some pretty strange situations while handing out the pamphlets.

Acrey said she found a car parked with the window up, purse sitting on the passenger seat and the keys dangling from the rear-view mirror.

Boswell said she found a running car in the Dollarama parking lot, with its windows down and a purse inside.

“I put the pamphlet on the seat of the car to show them,” said Boswell.

Every year the police try to educate the public to keep their car doors locked, Lovell said it is “frustrating” to see people reporting their unlocked vehicles were broken into and items taken. Lovell said she has been trying to educate the public over the past 10 years as a community service officer.

“This is a partnership between the people of Amherstburg and its police department,” she said. “We really need the public to help us and lock their vehicles. You should be locking your car day or night. Same thing goes for homes, sheds and garages.”

Lovell mentioned that the public could help, by reporting any suspicious activity in neighborhoods.

“If they see kids in the street and you don’t know what they are doing, we want them to call. We’ll come and we’ll check it out,” said Lovell. “It’s never a hassle for police to challenge someone in your neighborhood.”

Lovell also said the “Lock it of Lose it” program is Amherstburg Police’s way of being “proactive instead of reactive.”

“We want to get there before it happens,” she said.

Any theft or suspicious behavior should be reported, so that police know if a pattern is in a certain neighborhood.   Residents can call dispatch at 519-736-3622 to notify police.

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