Justice Matters: Santa Suggests Safety This Season

Department of Justice

December 8, 2000 2:33 PM

NOTE: The following is a holiday safety feature
article from the Department of Justice.

Can't think of what to get that special someone this Christmas?
Why not something that will keep on giving all year long? Take
some time to talk about safety, with your kids, your parents,
your loved ones. There is a wealth of information available, and
with some simple steps you can reduce your chances of becoming a
victim.

You can begin by visiting the Nova Scotia Department of Justice
Web site at www.gov.ns.ca/just . There, you'll find practical
tips on personal and home safety that you can put in place right
away--a must during this holiday season, when homes and many
gifts can be left unattended and more accessible.

Installing the proper locks is key to home safety. Spring latch
locks are not recommended as they can easily be broken. Single
cylinder deadbolt locks which are operated with a key from the
outside are best. Once you have the locks installed, make sure
you use them. Keep your doors and windows securely locked and
keep your curtains or blinds closed at street level, so people
can't see inside. Place a safety bar on your patio door--it can
be as simple as a piece of wood that fits into the frame. If
there is no window in your door, install a peep hole, so you can
see who is on your doorstep before you open your door. If you
don't know the person, keep your door locked. Don't open your
door to a stranger, no matter how convincing their story. If they
suggest they need to use the phone, offer to do it for them. If
you're suspicious at all, don't hesitate to call police.

Lighting is another very important home safety feature. Keep your
grounds well lit without drawing attention. Motion sensor lights
will alert you when someone approaches your yard. Mounted flood
lights aimed along the wall can light a large area--remember to
aim them downward so they don't cast shadows. Inside your home,
put switches for the exterior near a window, so that you can see
into the yard as you turn on the light. Make sure your views of
entrances and windows aren't blocked by trees, shrubs or large
Christmas decorations. You don't want to give thieves a place to
hide.

If you're planning to travel this holiday season, arrange to have
your mail held, or ask a trusted friend to pick it up. Ask them
to do the other things that make a home look lived in, like
shovelling snow or moving your car. Place interior lights and
radios on timers. Don't put too much information on your
answering machine. Don't leave a message telling people you'll be
away until the new year. If you live alone, don't alert callers
to that fact: ensure that your message is phrased to say there is
no one available to take your call, rather than "I'm not here and
I'll call you back."

Never put your name on the outside of your home. It makes it far
too easy for a potential thief to call to see if you're home. Or
they can call you by name if they approach you at the door, which
could make them seem more trustworthy than they are, leaving you
in a vulnerable position.

When you're shopping, make sure you keep your car locked and
anything of value out of sight. Keep gifts in the trunk and think
about moving your car if you have just dropped off a number of
items and you want to go back into the store for more shopping.
You'll want to convince anyone who may be watching that you've
left the area and the opportunity to steal from your vehicle is
gone.

Become familiar with the Neighbourhood Watch or the Block Parent
programs in your community. Neighbours looking out for each other
is one of the best ways to thwart thieves.

You can get more safety information from your local police
agency. The common-sense tips you've found in this article are
also available on video from the local police--they would be
happy to provide a presentation on how to stay safe and secure.
Or you can contact the Nova Scotia Department of Justice for more
information.

These are just a few of the things you can do to protect yourself
and your loved ones. After all, a little peace of mind can turn
out to be the greatest gift of all.

-30-

Contact: Michele McKinnon
         Department of Justice
         902-424-6811
         E-mail: mckinngm@gov.ns.ca

nwc                      December 8, 2000     2:23 p.m.