A car in Winnipeg is shown after it was vandalized last month. Westman communities have adopted the #9PMROUTINE, first made popular in the U.S., in an effort to try to keep theft and vandalism to a minimum this summer.(Winnipeg Free Press)

Original Published on Aug 02, 2022 at 07:48

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz with #9PMROUTINE, a movement designed to prevent crime.

Towns around Westman have joined the movement to try to keep theft and vandalism to a minimum this summer.

According to the North Miami Police Department’s website, on northmiamifl.gov, the city was the first to launch the campaign in 2017. A sheriff’s office in Florida created the movement to educate community members about best safety practices and help the department achieve its goal of reducing preventable crimes.

The routine involves removing valuables from cars, locking cars, turning on outside lights and locking up homes after 9 p.m. Since its inception, the campaign has spread across North America, and has found its way into Westman communities.

On July 30, the Town of Neepawa posted on its Facebook page, reminding residents of the town, located 76 kilometres northeast of Brandon, to set an alarm on their phones to remind them of the 9 p.m. routine. The town first announced its partnership with Spruce Plains RCMP to establish the routine in a Facebook post on July 18.

“Criminals look for easy targets. You can make it more difficult for them by following the #9PMROUTINE!” the post read. “Many stolen vehicles and theft from vehicles occur as a result of vehicles being left unlocked. Criminals walk through neighbourhoods, trying vehicle door handles, hoping to find an unlocked vehicle. The best way to prevent vehicle burglaries is to remove all of your valuables, lock your vehicle’s doors upon exiting and take the keys to the vehicle inside your residence.”

The Town of Minnedosa has also been actively promoting the 9 p.m. routine on its Facebook page. The community, located 52 kilometres north of Brandon, is sending out nightly reminders on the page.

“Building a habit starts one day at a time,” a post made on July 26 reads. “The simplest and most effective way to deter a thief is to clear our valuables out of sight and lock our vehicles and homes!”

As of May 2022 in the RCMP’s West district, which includes Minnedosa, Neepawa and many other communities in Westman, break and enters had gone up 41 per cent compared to the previous year. In the same time period, theft over $5,000 went up 117 per cent and theft under $5,000 rose 43 per cent.

The RCMP extracts the data from its record management system, and totals in its reports reflect the total of the selected most common offences. The RCMP website says the reports are not inclusive of all offences that may occur in each category.

This item reprinted with permission from the Sun, Brandon, Manitoba