BOYLE – Christmas is coming, and the Alberta RCMP want to help make sure no one is getting fat off someone else’s goose.
Boyle RCMP Sgt. Dennis Properzi shared some safety tips locals can use to make sure their holidays don’t take a turn for the worse, regardless of where they may be spending Christmas.
“Our biggest thing is for people to be looking out for one another over the holidays, and reporting anything dangerous over their travels or anything they perceive to be an issue,” said Properzi.
The Alberta RCMP are running a seasonal safety campaign under #DecemberToRemember, and the Boyle RCMP sent out their own media release Dec. 4. While some issues faced by Alberta’s urban residents may not translate into the village, Properzi said many of the tips are still sound advice.
Porch piracy is a common topic this time of year — an online survey from the Angus Reid Institute and FedEx said 28 per cent of the 1,507 respondents have had packages stolen — but so far reports have been few and far between in Boyle.
“We aren’t getting any reported, but we’re definitely getting more and I suspect it’s not getting reported,” said Properzi during a Dec. 4 interview. “A lot of stuff goes unreported, especially if people see someone in their yard or checking a neighbour’s door if they aren’t home. We encourage everyone to report anything they flag as suspicious.”
Christmas is also a time for charity, often in the form of door-to-door canvassing or carolling to raise some holiday cheer. Properzi asked the public to be wary of anyone who showed up outside of ‘normal’ hours for such activities.
“Anything that’s not usual for that time of day, even if you just see some people hanging around later at night, that’s when a lot of people check for unlocked vehicles,” said Properzi. “Now that it’s getting darker earlier, we’re seeing a rise in that kind of activity.”
To help prevent incidents, the release encouraged people to make sure decorations don’t obstruct the view outside a home when “decking the halls,” and particularly for snowbirds, installation of motion sensor lights and security cameras.
“If people know there’s potential that they’re going to be watched, whether it’s a well-lit area or a doorbell camera … if it’s something that you find suspicious you can share with the police,” said Properzi.
The Boyle RCMP also want to make sure people “don’t get Scrooged by a scammer,” which includes an increasingly common scam involving gift cards and, often, seniors.
“If you have people that are requesting payment through anything that isn’t legitimate means, and what I mean by that is gift cards, where they want you to pay a bill with X amount of gift cards, that’s never going to be a legitimate agency,” said Properzi.
To help combat the trend, the Mounties have started to work with local businesses to help identify potential victims before the damage is done.
“If someone comes in and is buying an unusual amount of gift cards, we encourage them to try and speak to that person, or maybe get them to think twice about buying that amount,” said the sergeant.