While no one wants a break-in, the consequences of property crime reach wider than the loss to the individual home.

In fact, safety is one of the key features of sustainable neighbourhoods – that is, ones that make people want to live there now and in the future, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s online Sustainable Neighbourhoods resource guide.

So what happens when your home, garage or car is broken into or vandalized? Crime prevention and behavioural experts say the harm can go far beyond material and financial losses – it can also shake you up emotionally and mentally.

“I hear from residents who have been a victim of a break and enter – this can be a very scary incident, leaving one feeling unsafe in their own home,” Constable George Farmer, community response officer with Halifax Regional Police, says in a video outlining ways to protect against home invasions.

A Statistics Canada report notes that police-reported rates for all types of property crimes (including possession of stolen property, motor vehicle theft, and break and enters) increased in 2015 over the previous year. According to SafeGuard Ontario, a community-based crime prevention program run by provincial police, more than 150,000 break and enters alone are reported annually in Canada, with six in 10 happening in residential areas.

Such findings are a big reason police forces across Canada have special units that raise awareness about property crime prevention.

Helping troubled children

Aiding in the efforts are community agencies that work with families and troubled children, who may be more likely to end up committing property and other crimes.

Studies indicate children with the lowest self-control are more inclined to get into trouble, says Leena Augimeri, a scientist at Toronto’s Child Development Institute (CDI).

“If they’re engaging in serious disruptive behaviour at a young age, that will lead to more serious behaviour down the road, like aggression, assault, stealing, vandalism – these are things that escalate if the child doesn’t have the proper intervention,” Dr. Augimeri says.


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