Good crime prevention depends on community engagement and ensuring everyone in the community is involved in crime prevention and fire safety.
Cottage break and enters, damage, and theft are serious concerns for cottagers, cottage associations, the police, and insurance companies.
Policing represents a significant portion of public service costs that are paid for through property taxes. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contracted services account for billions of dollars of municipal costs annually.
Some steps towards safer communities include:
- Organizing cottage association members into community-driven “cottage watch” groups.
- Maintaining communications between property owners and the OPP to reduce the incidence of theft, damage, and break-ins.
- Assisting the police in crime prevention and detection.
- Promoting the use of engravers and property identification measures to help solve crimes.
What can I do about crime?
- Do not attempt to apprehend or pursue the criminal
- If the crime is in progress contact 9-1-1
- If a crime has been detected call the OPP toll-free 1-888-310-1122 or contact your local OPP Detachment
- You can also report non-emergency incidents of loss/damage to property under $5,000 online at www.opp.ca/reporting/. All submissions are reviewed by an Officer, and you may be contacted for more information. (NOTE: you must have a valid email address to submit a report online using this system, which may not be compatible with mobile handheld devices such as phones or tablets.)
Most importantly: don’t be an easy target for cottage theft. Make certain to close your cottage thoroughly at the end of the season, taking with you anything you wouldn’t want to lose.
Download FOCA’s Tips for Cottage Closing & Opening (PDF, 2 pages) or read the closing tips, below:
COTTAGE CLOSING SAFETY:Cottages and summer homes are most vulnerable to thieves and subject to damage or vandalism in the off-season—from the week following Thanksgiving to the weeks prior to Victoria Day—especially if the owners are not using them regularly in the fall, winter or spring. From the Labour Day weekend onward, many cottage and seasonal property owners begin considering the closure and winterizing of their properties. FOCA wants to help you protect your investment, year-round. Remember, the cost of owning a cottage or summer property could include the frustration and irritation of repairing damage and replacing stolen property, if no one is living there or checking it regularly.
Cottage Closing Tips from FOCA:
- Secure your windows and doors.
- Close window curtains or blinds, and put up shutters to protect the interior from marauders (animal or human), storm protection and theft prevention.
- Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly (replace if necessary) and ensure they have fresh batteries. You should have detectors on all floors and outside all sleeping areas.
- Leave no valuables at the cottage (electronics, personal items, tools) unless you’re prepared to lose them.
- Lock up sporting goods that you decide must stay year-round (fishing rods & equipment, water skis, toys).
- Record the serial numbers of anything of value left behind. Marking your valuables with a drivers’ license # can help deter a thief or aid in property recovery.
- Remove all food, and anything that may attract animals.
- Pack up and take home all alcohol.
- Don’t leave firearms or weapons at the cottage.
- If you are leaving vehicles, boats, ATVs or snow machines, make sure they’re winterized and secure.
- Leave nothing on trailers unless it is locked or disabled.
- Defrost and unplug the refrigerator. Place an open box of baking soda inside the refrigerator to keep odours away.
- If you have propane appliances make sure they are properly shut down.
- Drain all water pipes, water heaters and fixtures, to avoid freezing.
- Scatter moth balls in the attic and anywhere small animals or bugs might gather.
- Organize snow removal if it will be required over the winter.
- Make a list of where everything is and make copies. Store one copy on your home computer and put a copy with items that will go back up to the cottage on your next trip.
- Designate a year-round contact or key-holder for: alarms, thefts, weather damage or animal problems.
- Know which police force patrols your cottage area (OPP Detachment and their phone number).
- Set up a network of neighbors to prevent and detect crime in your area, know your neighbours, their movements and vehicles, and connect with the local OPP detachment. Watching out for suspicious activity in and around your neighbours’ property can go a long way to lowering the incidence of property crime.
- If you haven’t yet, pay your annual cottage association dues now. Do it now before the year has passed. These local groups are the backbone of your lake community and your support is what helps keep them going!
- Check your property insurance to ensure the coverage you have in place is adequate and appropriate for your needs. Get a competitive quote from Cade Associates Insurance Brokers Ltd. by calling 1-416-234-9980; remember that FOCA members get a discount!
October 2020 – Cottagers urged to reduce risk of winter break-in (Sudbury Star)
Jan.2020 – After months of study in 2014, planning and community engagement, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) implemented a new billing model to recoup the cost of providing policing services to municipalities. The new model took effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and has been phased in over a five year period to allow municipalities time to adjust their budgets. Click here to read the full news release from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (August 14, 2014)
FOCA rallied our members to lobby against these changes in 2015, due to serious inequities in the new funding formula.
Firstly, in using “households” to determine the distribution of the costs, no allowance is provided for the fact that a substantial number of those households are only occupied on a seasonal basis. Further, when these costs are charged to property owners they are not equal by household, but by property assessment.
Related media coverage:
- Most municipalities will see OPP costs increase over five years (Canadian Press)
- Police must work to lower costs for municipalities (QMI)
- Cost of First Responders (Fire, and Police) Unsustainable – AMO (Toronto Star)