THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay’s Crime Prevention Council is raising the alarm in the community about home takeovers, which involves unwanted guests taking over the place of a homeowner or tenant for shelter or to conduct illegal activities.
“If a person is feeling unsafe physically, financially or psychologically in their own home because of the presence of people who will not leave, then they need to recognize they are not to blame and to get help,” said Lee-Ann Chevrette, Coordinator – Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council. “We want people in the community to be aware of what home takeovers are and what to do if a home takeover is suspected.”
With support from Crime Prevention Ottawa, Crime Prevention Thunder Bay amended some informational materials, including a checklist, poster, and postcard, and produced a PSA video to help people identify if, when and how to reach out for help.
“The checklist asks homeowners and tenants some simple yes or no questions regarding how their guest makes them feel and if their guest is pressuring them to lend money, for example,” said Chevrette. “If the tenant or homeowner answers yes to any of the questions, they might be experiencing a home takeover and need to call someone for assistance—either someone they trust, their support worker, landlord or police. If they feel they are in immediate danger, they need to call 911.”
In some home takeover cases, gangs are involved and prey on people with addictions or physical, mental or developmental vulnerabilities. The gangs will use violence and/or threats to exert and maintain control over the victim and their home. Perpetrators may use intimidation tactics to silence victims, which might include providing drugs to their victims or warning the homeowner or tenant that they will be in trouble with police for allowing drugs into their home.
Neighbours can do their part by calling the police if they notice unusual activity such as increased traffic to a home with unfamiliar people at the residence who may cause disturbances throughout the day or night.