Cpl. Chris Manseau of the North Saanich RCMP reminds residents to be proactive about crime prevention. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Sidney North Saanich RCMP to start ‘Coffee with a Cop’

New engagement strategies meet time-tested crime prevention tips

Crime Prevention Week is the first week of each November, but it’s never too early to remind people about ways to prevent crime before it happens.

“Sidney is a town where we can do a lot of proactive work,” said Corporal Chris Manseau of the Sidney North Saanich RCMP.

He said that like many towns, Sidney has changed a lot in 25 years, but “a lot of people have stayed here since that time, so they’re accustomed to not locking their car doors, not locking their house doors, so crimes of opportunity in this town, when we do have an influx of clientele that would do such a thing, it really affects the town.”

On a statistical level, Manseau said that Sidney and North Saanich experience similar types of crimes to other communities — impaired driving offences and crimes of opportunity being some common ones.

The colder weather means people are less likely to leave their car and home windows open, which reduces crimes of opportunity. With an older population, the area also attracts phone and rental scammers, which Manseau is unfortunate, but “it’s popular because it’s effective.”

Manseau said that in the past, scammers have also implicated the RCMP, claiming that the RCMP has been contacted by the Canada Revenue Agency, threatening people with arrest if they do not pay up. Manseau said that the RCMP does not arrest people for that sort of offence, and wants to remind people not to give their private information over the phone, as banks will not call to demand that information.

Manseau is excited for the new community liaison officer, Constable Meighan de Pass, who is just starting her two-year term now that her predecessor, Const. George Phipps, has rotated back to general duty.

Const. de Pass is interested in forming a Comunity Consultative Committee, where officers will liaise with other groups and “hopefully we can focus our energies and our resources in areas the community thinks requires attention.” The first meeting will happen in a few weeks.

She also wants to start “Coffee with a Cop,” a monthly initiative where a few officers will sit at a local coffee shop and chat with patrons to better understand the concerns of the community.

Manseau said that the detachment wants to get better at following up with complaints so people feel heard.

“A lot of us do live in this area, and we want to be comfortable and feel safe in this town also, because we’re here.”