By Tom Sproat
Taking proactive steps to prevent crime was the theme on Monday night, as local business owners gathered at the town hall to listen to a presentation by Sergeant Scott Lobb of the OPP.
Sgt. Lobb, accompanied by other members of the OPP and Crime Stoppers, spoke to the Business Improvement Area (BIA) on practical steps they can take to reduce the occurrence or risk of crime in their businesses. Among the highlighted strategies was the need for staff to be present throughout the store; the benefits of adequate lighting and surveillance; and ongoing communication and cooperation between store owners in identifying suspicious individuals observed lingering around store merchandise and storefronts: CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), generally stated.
Despite efforts taken towards prevention, Sgt. Lobb was clear in recognizing that ultimately crimes can still occur, a point that was brought home by a staged ‘robbery’ midway through the presentation by a masked OPP officer posing as a would-be small time crook (lucky he was that I did not have my karate shoes on). In these situations, Sgt. Lobb stressed the importance of complying with the offender’s demands and not taking any action towards notifying police until after they have left the premises; of taking stock of the offender’s appearance and mannerisms so as to offer the best suspect-description. Until police arrive, preserving the crime scene is paramount: do not touch anything, for anything can be of value in the subsequent investigation, trivial items at first glance turning out to carry a fingerprint or the saliva of the perpetrator (or “the perp” if you’re in on the lingo). Leave the scene as it is so that police can do their jobs, as displayed by forensics officer Ben Morgan (pictured) who retrieved evidence leftover by Peyton and Cameron Lobb, (also pictured), two young street-toughs on the rise in the St.Marys criminal underworld.
Finally, the message was also, as it so often is in small towns, one of community: look out for your neighbour and work with the police to bring local offenders to justice. Know something? Phone in to Crime Stoppers. You remain anonymous in your promotion of the law and can even earn a little money, too. In this way, and more generally in the protection and ongoing support of local businesses, crime doesn’t pay–but crime prevention does.