Submitted by Sheri Selway

There has been some recent concern about crime in the North End.  Damage and break-ins to cars and homes.  Believe it or not, safe and friendly go together!

I have lived in the North End for over 30 years.  During that time, I have been broken into once. (Knock on wood!) Yes, I called the police after the break-in.

But calling the police does not prevent these kinds of crimes.  A safe community also relies on residents to take personal and community steps to protect each other.

In thinking about community safety, I spoke to a number of residents to get their ideas and perspective, as well as reading a couple of articles.

According to the Hamilton Police website

“Most criminals who break into homes do not want to be seen and most often, break into homes that appear to be unoccupied. These culprits are often looking for a house that they can break into quickly and leave without being detected.  Once a burglar has selected a home, most will spend no more than a minute trying to break in and less than five minutes inside. There is no fail-proof way to keep out a burglar, but every little bit of deterrence helps.”

Here are some suggestions that may help keep you and your neighbours safer.

  1. Know your neighbours. That doesn’t mean you have to be best buddies, just know your neighbours to say HI and have a conversation.  When I was away, neighbours on both sides watched my property, watered my plants, cut the lawn, took out the garbage, checked the doors, and had an emergency number to phone.  When new neighbours moved in, some of us introduced ourselves right away.
  2. Help Each Other. On our block, we shovel snow (sometimes at the same time) and often for those who are older or have difficulty doing the task. I helped tenants put in a front garden and together we weeded and planted a vegetable garden in the back yard to share. One neighbour has difficulty getting around, so another neighbour puts out the garbage and puts the bins back.
  3. Keep your neighbourhood clean and tidy. It helps. A clean block tells a stranger that people here care for the neighbourhood. So yes, that is a little work. Our block shovels snow for each other, brings in the garbage bins on garbage day, picks up the flyers that are delivered onto our lawns, etc.  One of our neighbours pulls up random weeds.
  4. Sit on the front porch. Say HI to those walking by.  They might not live on your block, but they are probably neighbours.  Be aware of what is normal and what seems odd.
  5. Door to Door scammers. From time to time, people come to our doors. Often more than one on the block at the same time.  NEVER let them in.  Warn your neighbours, especially seniors.
  6. Lights on! Using “outlet timers” or technology (Alexa, wireless remote, etc.) to turn radios, and lights on and off makes it seem someone is home.
  7. Keep in touch. Technology may help. You can create a “page” or “group” on several platforms to keep in touch with your neighbours.
  8. Alarms. It might help.  Our houses are pretty close together and I can hear smoke alarms and CO2 detectors go off in other houses.  Sometimes I just leave a radio or tv on.
  9. Leave a pair of shoes on the porch. That says someone is home and took off their shoes before coming inside.
  10. Be Nice! I save my beer bottles for the same person who comes around. We give bottles of water and snacks out to the postal carrier or sanitation workers. If someone is looks sad or in distress, ask if they need help.  Pay attention.

Yes, I do see homeless in my neighbourhood.  Say Hello.  They are people, down on their luck. One neighbour has a tree in the front yard where they hang up mittens and hats in the winter.  Carry around extra mittens and hats or granola bars in your bag or purse. Buy them a coffee.  Or lunch.  You will make their day!

A friendly caring community is a Safe, Friendly Community.