The little details make a difference

The Winnipeg Real Estate Board was very involved in the mid-1990s, with the active support and participation of the Winnipeg Police Service, in a Realty Watch/Home Security program which trained volunteer REALTORS in all aspects of home security. 

The program dealt with crime prevention theory, home security techniques, local crime statistics and criminal profiles, locks and alarms, environmental design considerations, ancillary community crime prevention programs, and fire prevention and safety.

It was a proactive program. If a homeowner was interested in learning more about how they could secure their home more effectively without incurring significant costs, they had the opportunity to call the Winnipeg Police Service or the Winnipeg Real Estate Board and obtain a free home inspection audit. 

Forms used by the trained volunteer REALTOR inspectors were in a checklist format so that the homeowner could easily identify an area where an improvement was advantageous to secure their homes from a potential crime. As is still the case, the objective is to lessen the likelihood of your home and property being vandalized by taking preventative measures that are not cost prohibitive.

The program evolved to the point where the Winnipeg Police Service was able to build on the strengths of this laudable community service, especially some of the fine course material, and provide Winnipeggers with excellent information on home security. In fact, if you go to the Winnipeg Police Service website and look under crime prevention, there is a home security check list and a number of good explanatory notes about key entry points to a house. There is also a miscellaneous section that deals with alarms, light timers and even householder identification for police, fire and ambulance personnel to be able to locate your residence in case of an emergency. 

The board was instrumental in helping WPS develop a solid home security program that continued after REALTORS were no longer involved. The WPS program trains students in home security based on material this REALTOR program had successfully developed. Upon completing the training, they target specific neighbourhoods in the summer months to apprise homeowners of what steps they could take to secure their homes and property.

What prompted this reflection on a crime prevention partnership between the board and WPS is a story about a program Regina REALTORS have been involved in since 2001. The Regina program deals with one aspect of home security that is also critical in a life-and-death situation — identifying properties with a simple set of address numbers that can be seen day and night. It is reassuring to see REALTORS in our neighbouring province help their local police and fire service.

The following is a reprint of a Canadian Real Estate Association article entitled Regina REALTORS Complete Address Program (July 21, 2005):

Volunteers from the Association of Regina REALTORS Inc. and the North-Central Community Association (NCCA) finished off a four-year project on July 16 to place address labels on properties in Regina’s north central area inner-city neighbourhood. Finding the correct address in this neighbourhood used to be challenging for emergency workers as many properties did not have clear street and laneway identification. But, the partnership has helped to change that.

The two groups began an initiative to attach proper labels onto properties in the area in July 2001. What was planned as a one-year initiative was expanded to four years as part of the association’s 90th anniversary celebrations.

Local REALTOR and NCCA volunteers had labeled about 4,200 properties in the area by the time the initiative was completed on July 16. The association contributed $10,000 to purchase the address labels and provided volunteer help to affix the labels onto properties.

“We see this project as having contributed to the safety and protection of people and property in this neighbourhood and emergency service personnel,” said Cliff Iverson, president of the Association of Regina REALTORS Inc.

“Unfortunately this neighbourhood has a disproportionate number of emergency service calls into the area. Police and fire tell us that they use the address in the lanes to identify properties on an on-going basis and that it saves them valuable time when completing calls,” added Iverson.