Barbara Gavin pulls the curtains back in her living room.
She points to the black device on her windowsill. It’s propped up so it points directly at the car in her driveway.
The device is a security camera recording a continuous loop of footage. It will save whatever it has captured when she stops the recording. She installed it last week. But it was too late to capture footage of the vandal who damaged her vehicle.
“The crime appears to be quite high here,” Gavin says. “It doesn’t make me feel too good. It makes me feel a little unsafe as a matter of fact.”
In the early hours of New Year’s Day, someone bent and ripped the licence plate off the back of her sport utility vehicle.
Gavin lives alone on Astral Drive in Cole Harbour, N.S., but she has lived across North America and overseas for work. Coming from a family of police officers, she keeps security top of mind.
“There are motion lights all around here. If I see the motion light at night, I will get up and go look. Now that’s a difference I find I’m doing lately,” says Gavin. “It’s concerning.”
Heather Jewers has also been a victim of vandalism on the street. She lives a few doors down from Gavin. Her licence plate was torn off her pickup truck on the same night.
“I was talking to a police officer and he had a handful of [licence plates],” said Jewers. “He had a whole bunch in his car.”
Although Jewers says this is the first time she has had a problem with vandalism, she says her husband is going to install a motion-activated trail camera on their driveway.
“I’d like to think it was just a one-time thing,” but she says the young trees along her street keep getting ripped out of the ground. “Why just go and destroy things?”
String of thefts
The Halifax Regional Municipality’s open crime data show that Astral Drive and the neighboring streets played host to an uptick in petty crime over the last two weeks.
There were nine thefts from vehicles on Gavin and Jewers’ street, and two more on adjoining streets between Dec. 29 and Jan. 5.
This represents a quarter of the total number of thefts from vehicles that occurred in the HRM during these eight days.
A map showing a cluster of thefts from vehicles on Astral Drive in Cole Harbour.
Crime of opportunity
The statistics do not come as a surprise to an RCMP spokesperson.
Astral Drive falls just outside the boundary of the Halifax Regional Police jurisdiction and is therefore the responsibility of the RCMP to patrol and investigate these incidents.
“This type of crime does happen in clusters, it could be Astral Drive this week and somewhere else next week,” said Cpl. Andrew Joyce.
Joyce says theft from vehicles is a crime of opportunity and he discourages anyone from leaving valuables in their car.
When asked about what measures homeowners can take, Joyce said, “if a person installs video surveillance in their residence and if those things are available in a circumstance where police can use it as a tool, that can sometimes be useful.”
Gavin is counting on it. If vandals strike again, she hopes her security footage will help officers to identify the suspect.