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Crime: resorting to extreme means to protect oneself

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Car thefts are reaching summits in Toronto. (Archive photo)

  • Andréane Williams (View profile)Andréane Williams

In Toronto, 2023 saw a significant increase in major crimes, reaching a 10-year high. However, the face of crime is changing, with fewer gun deaths but more crimes like car thefts and break-ins. A situation that pushes some Torontonians to take matters into their own hands.

Telescopic pole on the belt, white shirt and tie black at the neck, Alex Klim calmly walks the snowy streets of the upscale Forest Hill neighborhood in Toronto.

He n t's not yet noon and the streets are practically deserted.

We're looking for people who are scouting. Most crimes take place late in the evening or at night. So what we see most of the time are people waiting in a car to see if there is activity in the house. […] That's what I'm trying to spot, he explains.

The young man is not a police officer, but a security agent from the company Avante Security Inc., which specializes in security services for individuals.

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He was hired by residents of the neighborhood to patrol the streets and monitor their homes .

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Alex Klim patrols in the streets of Toronto's Forest Hill neighborhood, looking for suspicious activity.

All these houses are worth more of $13 million. Someone who manages to get in can therefore make a lot of money, he says, behind the wheel of his SUV.

In Forest Hill, as in many other affluent areas of the city, car thefts and break-ins are now almost a part of daily life.

In the last year and a half, demand for the company's services has increased by 300 percent, according to Avante Security Inc.'s manager of protective services and training, Mike Sheehan.

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The upscale neighborhood of Forest Hill , in Toronto, is regularly the target of burglaries.

A property in Forest Hill was also the target of nine attempted car thefts in three months.

Alex Klim claims that, each time, security guards from Avante Security Inc. successfully prevented the theft.

People do business with us because we are able to arrive on scene faster than the police.

A quote from Alex Klim, Operations Supervisor, Avante Security Inc.

According to Toronto Police Service statistics , 52,630 major crimes – a term that includes several types of more or less serious offenses, such as theft, assault and homicide – were committed in the Queen City in 2023. This is a 10-year record .

If the number of gun casualties has decreased, with 139 injuries and 29 deaths in 2023 compared at 150 injuries and 44 deaths in the previous year, car thefts and break-ins are on the rise.

Last year, 12,143 vehicles were stolen, compared to 9,771 in 2022. These numbers have been steadily increasing since 2017.

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Police recommend locking your doors and closing your windows, hiding valuables or removing them from the vehicle, and avoiding leaving identity documents in the vehicle. (File photo)

Shootings have decreased over the past five years. In my opinion, this is the result of the effectiveness of the police, who made arrests for possession of handguns, says Irvin Waller, professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa.

If it is difficult to explain the increase in car thefts, a phenomenon which also affects the United States United, he is concerned that these thefts are increasingly violent.

In 2023, the Toronto Police Service recorded 282 acts of carjacking.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">When we realize that we can make more money from car thefts, we will see more violence.

A quote from Irvin Waller, criminologist

He thinks that even if the use of private security companies can give a feeling of security, the best way to fight crime is to attack the roots of the problem. To do this, Irvin Waller recommends investing more in social programs.

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In the wealthy neighborhood of Lawrence Park, in Toronto, these trends are worrying.

After the murder of a young woman on her street corner in 2017, resident Didi Cameron decided to bring their neighborhood together to form a neighborhood watch group.

More than a hundred residents are now submitting information on suspicious activities in the surrounding area and exchange techniques to prevent burglaries.

We want people to know that this kind of thing is happening in their backyard, said Didi Cameron.

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Torontonians form neighborhood surveillance groups to thwart criminals.

In seven years, she claims to have helped to set up similar groups in several other neighborhoods of the city, some less affluent than others.

It’s not just the nice neighborhoods that are affected.

A quote from Didi Cameron

The residences participating in the initiative all display a sign to warn and deter criminals.

The message we are sending to criminals is that we are keeping our eyes open and will call the police if we see anything something suspicious, said Didi Cameron.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116