How to avoid becoming a victim of property crime

A long-time resident in Alberta Ave, Brendan Van Alstine is speaking up about the incidence of yard invasions. 

“It’s been a very active summer,” says Van Alstine. He acknowledges that this is not new. “I think it really is everywhere; it’s just whether you’re aware of it or not.” 

He noticed an increase over this summer. “I’m sure [the fact] that people are in dire straits because of COVID-19 isn’t helping. The closure of the EXPO Centre in early summer didn’t help.” 

As the former president of Alberta Ave Community League, Van Alstine’s commitment to address socio economic issues in the community informs his empathy. However, his concern overlaps with personal and community safety.

A trespasser tried to steal a new bicycle from Van Alstine’s backyard shed. When Van Alstine confronted him, the thief threw the bike over a six foot fence and tried to get away. Van Alstine fought the intruder and managed to retrieve the bike. 

A thief threw Brendan Van Alstine’s brand new bicycle over this six foot fence. | Tekla Luchenski

Strangers cut through his yard, which is mid-block (i.e. not a corner location, where this tends to be more common). As an empathetic resident, Van Alstine says, “They said they were just cutting through. Who knows if they were telling the truth or not.” 

He installed cameras on his property. Later, he secured and locked fences. The yard is now fully enclosed, and there are fewer incidents. 

Const. Kenny McKinnon would likely applaud Van Alstine’s efforts. McKinnon, of community engagement for Edmonton Police Service (EPS), informs people about how to prevent property crime. 

“Crime increase is very area-dependent,” he says. “It changes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and even from street to street.” 

He says that because of the pandemic, “A lot of people are laid off and stuck at home.” “People are seeing more things because they are home to see it. The prevalence of being aware of property crime has increased. The seasons definitely have an impact on the type and prevalence of property crime.”

Regardless, McKinnon advises, “Define your property line as best you can and keep things secured. A fence with a locked gate is good. People committing property crimes tend to look for open back yards. Also, a lot of crime happens from the alley. You need a locked gate in the back, and a locked vehicle. People are looking for a crime of opportunity.”

McKinnon also stresses, “You have to think, ‘what’s valuable to someone who has almost nothing?’ People will break into a car for sunglasses, clothes, and garage fobs.” 

McKinnon and the EPS have a wealth of information for how to protect property on

McKinnon adds, “A key strategy is to be neighbourly. The more people get to know each other, the more you break down boundaries and help each other.” Also, “Online information sharing is good, but it’s not good to eliminate face-to-face contact. Social media connects and separates.”

“Property-related crimes are the most preventable,” says McKinnon. Be aware, informed, connected.


Featured Image: Van Alstine and his partner have installed cameras to surveille their yard. | Tekla Luchenski