Recent robberies shake city residents
Residents in Cornwall have been left flabbergasted by a string of night robberies. It seems no one’s car is safe from the hands of the bandit who has been going through countless unlocked vehicles. The thief leaves no trace, other than his boot prints, scattering the surrounding snow.
Although the residents are quite fed up with the slew of robberies, Constable Daniel Cloutier, the man in charge of crime reduction for the Cornwall Police Department, stated that these sorts of robberies can happen, and do happen, throughout the whole city.
“I don’t have exact numbers to confirm that the thefts from vehicles are up, but can state that the thefts are not limited to the East end of town,” he explained to The Journal. “They occur almost anywhere an opportunity is present, such as with unlocked doors and articles of value in plain sight.”
Thefts from vehicles usually involve small dollar values in terms of the property stolen, but they take up considerable police resources and increase residents’ fear of crime. In addition, recurring thefts from cars in a residential community can erode residents’ feelings of safety and security, as well as their confidence in police and other authorities.
According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a non-profit organization comprising affiliated police practitioners, researchers, and universities dedicated to the advancement of problem-oriented policing, thefts from cars in suburban residential areas generally occur at night. This is because it is the time most cars are present in these areas, as well as the fact that darkness provides cover for the thieves.
Victims left angered and sad
Alli Sam was coming home to Cornwall in the evening of December 23, having finished a day’s work in Ottawa. Her son had recently been released from the hospital and the family’s Christmas shopping was finally over. When they arrived to their residence, her husband took out the many gifts and pressed the door lock button on his key chain. Unfortunately for the family, it malfunctioned, leaving the car’s doors unlocked.
“My work-provided laptop, my wallet and my deceased Mom's diamond engagement ring that was in the change purse of my wallet (were all stolen),” said Sam. “I felt stupid. I felt almost like I deserved it because we had unknowingly left the doors unlocked. Then I was devastated, heartbroken and disappointed in myself. Then I got angry.”
Deneata Lecompte on the other hand, felt quite uneasy upon discovering she had been robbed. Although only some small change and a pack of cigarettes were stolen, the woman questions if the thief’s motive could’ve changed if circumstances had been different.
“We always lock our car doors and we didn't realize we forgot,” she explained. “But it just made me think. What if this person or these people saw us all leave the house and we forgot the back door unlocked, would they check it? Would we get robbed for everything we have?”
The Lock it or Lose it campaign in full swing
The Cornwall Community Police Service encourages motorists and passengers to lock their doors, when it comes to their vehicles and valuables left in plain view.
The Cornwall Community Police Service is participating in the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police’s (OACP) annual Lock it or Lose it campaign. The campaign is a crime-prevention program that encourages drivers and passengers to take precautions to protect their vehicles and vehicle contents from theft, particularly during the holiday season but also throughout the year.
“Thieves know that an unlocked vehicle is an open invitation to crime as well as leaving your valuables in plain sight,” said Staff Sergeant Brian Snyder “This is a busy time of the year. It’s easy to be distracted and leave your vehicle unlocked or valuables in your car. Take extra time to lock it down.”
During the campaign, police officers and Special Constables examine parked vehicles to confirm they are locked and that no valuables have been left in plain view. Officers place a small notice on vehicles checked indicating what safety precautions were neglected and offer simple prevention tips for drivers to protect their vehicles against theft.
The notices also congratulate drivers who have secured their vehicle.
Motorists and passengers are urged not to keep personal documents such as vehicle ownership, liability pink slips, credit card invoices, or other documents containing personal information in their vehicles. Identity thieves are looking for such documents so they can assume identities, secure credit card accounts, lease vehicles for export, and even take out a mortgage against victims’ properties without their knowledge.