Burns Lake RCMP detachment. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

Don’t let thieves ruin your Christmas

Series of tips will help protect property, items

Criminals don’t take time off over the holidays and with that, Burns Lake RCMP are reminding people to take precautions to protect items from theft.

Unlocked vehicle doors, items left in plain view in vehicles, and garage door openers left over night in vehicles always present a greater opportunity for thieves to target holiday shoppers as they as purchase gifts and the other hallmarks of the Christmas holiday season.

Purchases, where possible, should be placed in trunks or otherwise out of sight to deter thieves looking for a quick way to commit a crime.

“Alongside of our officers conducting proactive patrols we encourage neighbours to watch out for neighbours and report suspicious activity to police,” says Sergeant Shaunna Lewis of the Burns Lake detachment.

Unlocked residence doors this time of year — and at any time of the year — also present a chance for opportunistic thieves to relieve people of their belongings.

Consider writing down the serial numbers and descriptions of major purchase either for yourself or someone else. Some people even engrave an identifying mark on property.

If shopping online, something that has increased over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, RCMP are prompting folks to practice caution when shopping on social media.

“Online apps and websites provide a useful means of selling and purchasing personal items,” adds Lewis. “We urge everyone to be safe as the sites also provide opportunity for thieves.”

Safety tips for seller – buyer meetings when completing online transactions:

– Insist on a public meeting place.

– Gather as much detail as possible regarding the person you are meeting.

– Meet during daylight hours.

– Be wary of the deal that is too good to be true.

– Tell a friend or family member where you are going and who you are meeting.

– Take a cell phone and a friend along.

Safety tips for internet online shopping:

– Create complex passwords for your electronic devices and accounts.

– Change passwords frequently.

– Use reputable websites.

– Use sites that only accept secure payment methods – never mail cash or a cheque.

– Ensure someone is home or let a neighbour know when a package or delivery is expected.

ICBC also has safety and protective tips of its own on its website and the RCMP has more tips at bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.