The best way to prevent property crime and improve neighbourhood safety is through prevention. And on Feb. 16, Connie Marciniuk and Courage Bobong Fon from the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) hosted an online residential property safety presentation to show residents how to do just that.

Marciniuk began by speaking about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design—an approach by Edmonton Police Service to reduce crime by using urban design and management to deter criminals—and ways homeowners can make their property less of a target. 

Most crime is composed of three elements: a motivated offender, opportunity, and a suitable target. Marciniuk went over ways to make your property less of a target. Having your property under surveillance with cameras and lights tops the list. Other simpler, yet effective, ways include locking fence gates, clearly defining your property, and routinely securing all doors, windows, and other points of entry to your yard. Another simple tip is cutting back any bushes so you can clearly see your property.

Vehicle safety was also discussed. Remove everything from the vehicle (not only items of value), fully close and lock all doors and windows, and don’t hide your keys in or around your car. 

“Thieves know all your hiding places,” Marciniuk explained.

Bobong Fon discussed back alley safety and reclaiming the space. Back alleys are a key element of urban spaces, yet they are often neglected. Crime is more likely to happen in neglected, out of sight spaces. Clean and maintained alleys let people know that the space is monitored and any crime committed is likely to be noticed. Activities as simple as cleaning up debris, hanging potted plants from your back fence, and painting or hanging up art on your garage can create a bright and safe-feeling area. 

In addition, using back alleys as neighbourhood gathering places or for block parties diversifies the activities alleys are used for beyond transportation. Before moving ahead with a reimagined back alley plan, Bobong Fon stressed talking with your neighbours to see what ideas they may have. Creating safe, inviting community spaces needs to be done from a wide range of lived experiences, ensuring everyone in the neighbourhood can enjoy it. 

A Delton resident recently installed motion-activated lights and a camera in his backyard after he noticed footprints in the snow one morning that shouldn’t have been there. 

“I definitely feel better knowing they can’t sneak around here in the dark anymore,” he says. “Haven’t caught anyone on camera yet, though.”

Many residents have upgraded the security on their property, most installing lights and cameras. Those who haven’t done so are thinking about it.

“I’m looking at my options right now,” says an Alberta Avenue resident. Someone broke into her neighbour’s shed a few weeks ago and she’s also seen unknown footprints in her yard. 

Property safety, and by extension the safety of neighbourhood residents, is everyone’s responsibility. Creating welcoming back alleys and safe properties can be as simple as hanging a flower pot, locking your gate, or getting to know your neighbours.