Crime Solving in Ottawa Canada

Few crimes are more devastating than coming home to find your home has been broken into, everything ransacked, and things stolen. To most of us, a home is a place of emotional refuge, a place where our feelings can be empowered in a world where we so easily feel powerless, a place where we can be free of worries about physical danger in a world that seems full of it, a place where we are surrounded by those little touchstones of life that keep our best memories alive.

Yet, in 2003, a province-wide study showed that the Ottawa Police were the worst in the province when it came to solving crimes. Break and enters were the worst category.

With nine break and enters between us within ten years, and only one arrest, I and my two immediate neighbours believed that all right. (The one arrest occurred when an officer was driving by at the moment one of our alarms went off.)

In 2003, just prior to the issuance of the provincial report, there was a spate of break-ins in a small assisted-housing area nearby. One involved a friend of mine. Now, I suspect that you might agree with me that a single mom and son with a total income of barely $10,000 per year shouldn't have spent $1500 on a PlayStation, but the fact is they did. And, as soon as two friends of his heard about it, that are suspected as having had a part in five other break-ins in the same area since they moved out two years before, their basement window was broken and the PlayStation stolen. The next door neighbour heard a noise at the time and called out at the front door. The thieves dropped their cellphone and fled through the back door. They were seen and identified by two neighbours at the time. The cellphone was delivered to the police by the victims.

Now, every cellphone has a tamper-proof digital circuit that uniquely identifies that phone, because that is how cellphone companies know who to charge for calls. Every cellphone company knows who the charging company is for that phone, and the charging company knows who to charge. So, all the Ottawa Police had to do was to press talk on that phone and, with a maximum of two calls, find out who owned it, and check if it matched the people seen by the witnesses.

They didn't. I was told that, because the amount stolen was less than $3000, our Ottawa Police can't be bothered.

Having someone smash into your home is emotionally devastating regardless of the amount. But in this case, the loss was almost two full months income for the victims. They feel that our City police are deliberately letting criminals get away with it because they don't care.

For people to feel safe in our community, we need to respect and trust our police. In return, our police have to focus on solving the problems that make most people feel unsafe: residential break and enters, and cars speeding in residential areas past homes with children.

For people to feel safe in our community, crimes have to be investigated and solved based on all costs to the victims and community, not just dollar costs.

John Sankey
other notes on community matters