DIG IN: Reduce Crime



1. Reduce Crime Community Meeting, Fall 2002

2. Book a Safety Audit

3. Fear in the City; Toronto Sun - St Clarens Towers, Story MARK BONOKOSKI

4. Helpful Safety Telephone Numbers

5. Community Auto-Dialler

6. Safety Tips From 11th and 14th Division Police

7. Operation Identification

8. Community Police Liaison Committee, start-up March 2006

9. Situational Prevention

As a way to reduce crime, residents prepared this statement for use in an up-coming trial.

Jan. 19, 2007 – Dig-In is a community organization that represents people living and working in the Bloor and Lansdowne area. Currently, 150 individuals have signed on to our listserve.

The problem of drug dealing is one that has long plagued our community. It makes life frustrating and sometimes dangerous for residents here.

Our children are routinely approached to buy and sell drugs; Our homes and vehicles are often broken into, likely by people trying to support their drug habits; We’re afraid to walk down our streets at night because it would mean walking past groups of dealers; Addicted prostitutes ply their trade in our alleyways; We frequently find crack pipes, syringes and used condoms on our properties; Some of our neighbours have given up trying to fight this and have moved away. 

Below are just a few examples of what current and former residents in our neighbourhood have experienced. It’s for reasons like this that residents are turning to the courts to help make their neighbourhood safer:

Former Dig-In president. Lived at 38 Perth Ave. from 2002 to 2004.: “As a direct result of persistent and ongoing criminal activities on my block that were affecting my family's way of life, including the fear of leaving our home after sun-down, we found it regrettable, but necessary to move from our home and relocate to a safer community nearby. Despite great efforts by the local police officers (with whom we were well-acquainted by the time we moved), the same "criminals" would find their way back to our local streets resuming their activities of drug dealing, drug using, prostitution and general violent behaviour once they were back from either police questioning or incarceration.

I miss the diversity, character and personality of the neighbourhood, specifically the law-abiding neighbours and community members who surrounded us. And although it was with regret that we moved away, I look back and realize how fortunate we are to have done so for the safety and general well-being of my family.“

St. Clarens Ave. resident: I have lived and raised two boys here over the past 20 years. Among many other issues the most up-setting to me have been the following: My oldest son has moved away and is amazed by his improved quality of life by now living in a safe and civil neighbourhood – he claims he will never move back. My sons recall: twice being swarmed and both times having their bikes punked off, numerously being propositioned by aggressive, crack prostitutes, endlessly being asked if they are selling or if they want to buy drugs. On three occasions they brought friends home, friends with no experience in how to walk and talk to be safe and they ended up in fights. (black and blue eye just this summer). Friend’ parents have told their children that they are not to use the Lansdowne subway stop or that their children can’t come to our house, or that if they come they can’t go outside.

St. Clarens Ave. resident “In the year that we have lived on St Clarens Avenue, my husband and I have been woken up by the screams of an assault victim, have encountered near constant criminal activity revolving around drugs (including a dealer who had set up shop on our front lawn) and have cleaned up endless garbage (including used condoms, needles, crack pipes, and other drug paraphernalia) in the alleyway behind our home. We see the same drug dealers working the same spots, day after day. On several occasions I have been nearly run down by drivers that lean on the horn as they speed down this residential street. My neighbour has young children who have nowhere to play but in the alley, and I worry that one of them will find a needle. It’s especially upsetting as we have a new baby, and I want him to grow up on a street where he will be safe.”

St. Clarens Ave. resident: “In the past four years, I have been assaulted, threatened with death, had my garage broken into once and had my car broken into four times. Buyers and sellers often congregate at St. Clarens and Bloor. They often glare at me whenever I walk or drive by. I find this intimidating.”

Emerson Ave. resident: "Each time I enter or leave my garage I am nervous because of what I may encounter in my laneway. Repeatedly I have been confronted by people smoking crack, prostitutes servicing their Johns and drug dealers selling their drugs--right in front of my own garage door! I am regularly picking up garbage left by these people...not only have I removed old clothing, cigarette packages and water bottles, but I have also picked up used condoms and a cloth containing human feces. This is unacceptable!"

Emerson Ave. resident: “My home backs onto a laneway that is regularly used by drug dealers and their sad constant companions -- the young women who support their crack habit by performing cheap sexual services. Cracked-up sex workers -- looking for refuge from abusive johns or escaping the wrath of ripped-off "customers" -- have scaled the fence at the bottom of my yard on at least three occasions in the past year. I'm not sure which part of the experience was more distressing: having the calm refuge of my garden violated by a deranged and disheveled stranger, or realizing that the stranger, beneath the stoned jibbering and glaze of dirty make-up, was maybe 15 years old at the most!”

Bloor St. W. resident and store owner: I came to Canada from Southeast Asia with hope and I still have hope not only for my family but also for all citizens. But one thing I do not comprehend is why people in our neighborhood can’t have the same decent living environment enjoyed by other Torontonians. Our day-to-day lives are constantly threatened by drug dealers. We are virtually prisoners in our small apartment. The crime rules the street day and night. My 17-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter and my wife have never had a moment of security in our neighborhood throughout the more than 10 years we have lived here. Why do we always need to watch our back whenever walking down the street? Please show me one single family who feels safe to enjoy the vicinity, to let the children play outside. Why us? Are we second class citizens?

We are aware that this past fall that police arrested 96 individuals on 236 charges, most of them drug related. Most of these individuals were repeat offenders with more than 1,500 prior convictions on their records. Of the 96, 60 were arrested in the Bloor and Lansdowne area. Many of these individuals were armed with weapons.

Our community would hope that these charges are dealt with seriously by the justice system. We work closely with police in our area and are well aware of their frustrations over the revolving-door syndrome with repeat offenders. Perpetrators are back out on the street soon after being arrested by police, seemingly undeterred by the criminal justice system.

We are told by Toronto Police Supt. Ruth White of 14 Division that drug offenders in Bracebridge are given longer sentences than those in Toronto. We don’t understand this disaprity.

We would like to see those arrested in the recent sweep given tougher sentences this time. We would also like them to be prohibited from returning to the area where they were arrested.

At the same time, we would like to see treatment services offered to those facing addictions. Recognizing the importance of addressing the underlying issues facing those with addictions, we held a community forum on Jan. 18 with experts from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Toronto Drug Strategy and Toronto Police. We know that the revolving-door syndrome won’t stop unless the addiction is addressed. 

Thank you for giving this matter your attention.


Ann Homan
President, Dig-In

cc: Adam Giambrone, Mario Silva, Tony Ruprecht, Attorney General Michael Bryant, 14 Div. Supt. Ruth White

Names removed above as suggested by the police.

1. This fall (2002) neighbours gathered at Wallace Emerson Community Centre to discuss issues of crime and crime prevention in the Lansdowne and Dupont area. The meeting was hosted by DIG IN with Councilor Mario Silva and members from the Toronto Police, 14th Division and was well attended by the local community.

The main discussion subjects were safety, traffic, police response and the active drug and sex trade in the neighbourhood. The meeting tried to find solutions and ideas to improve the safety of the community.

An good idea to surface was the concept of neighbourhood safety audits. This police supported event brings together the police and the community to walk the area at night to identify and record safety issues. The record becomes a checklist for items that can be identified for repair and improvement. A copy of the findings are kept by the police and our city Councilor’s office.

November 20th, DIG IN arranged for community police officers Bob Guglick and Terry Lucknow to lead a community safety audit for an area centered around Lansdowne and Dupont. The police pointed to a number of items that could be improved to make the block safer.

One effective method is to maintain a well-lit environment outside of your home or business. If the area outside your home or laneway is dark, ask the City to install additional lighting. If existing streetlights have burnt out or have yellow bulbs call the City to have them replaced. White lights offer a better illumination.

The officers also recommended installing motion detection lights in key places. The lights cast a bright light when the sensor is triggered and surprise people. They also light up the surroundings area so that everyone can see what is going on. Motion detection lights are less expensive to operate than lights that remain on all night long.
Another suggestion was to put a house number clearly on your garage door as well as the front of your home or business. If you call the police with information about a disturbance they could quickly locate the street or laneway address.

An important way to keep down crime is to know your neighbours and neighbourhood. Mutually keep a watch out for each other’s homes and families. Knowing, talking and walking in your neighbourhood keeps crime down and creates an engaged neighbourhood atmosphere that is crime resistant.

The audit was a positive and fun experience. We were surprised to realize how many street lights and laneway lights were broken, and interested to hear that a person’s red coat reads as red under a white streetlight but reads as gray under a yellow light.

2. DIG IN encourages neighbours to book a safety audit. To proceed, organize a few other neighbours on your block and agree to walk the area together one night and record what you find. The police will provide the guidance, information, check list sheets and even flashlights.

Arrange for a safety audit call 14th Division (east of Lansdowne/ CNR tracks):
Officer Terry Lucko 416-808-1529

Arrange for a safety audit call 11th Division (west of Lansdowne/CNR tracks:
Officer Greg Forestall 416-808-1108

3. The Toronto Sun Newspaper
November 20, 2002

By MARK BONOKOSKI -- Toronto Sun

Crammed into a one-bedroom apartment with his three young daughters and his pregnant wife, Archie Widdowson finds himself becoming more and more fearful with each passing night.

If it is not the fire calls to the 23-storey highrise that he has called home for the last 10 years, it's the violence and the vandalism. It's the pepper spray being let loose in the hallways and the stairwells which, along with broken windows, are littered with broken beer bottles and soiled by pools of urine.

"I'm worried for my family," 49-year-old Widdowson said. "The building is going down the tubes.

"It's become a dangerous place to live."

The place is called the St. Clarens Square apartment-hotel. It sits on the corner of Dupont and Lansdowne as a worn and tired-looking monolith containing 352 apartment units, but with dozens of eviction notices tacked on various doors.

One month at St. Clarens Square could be most any other building's decade. Open the calendar to Oct. 1. A 19-year-old female living on the 14th floor is arrested on prostitution charges while, on the same day, a man is charged with sexually assaulting a female resident of the 14th floor.

Same day again, a resident of the 21st floor is arrested for uttering a death threat against an employee of a nearby doughnut shop.

On Oct. 10, police are called to sort out a domestic dispute on the 22nd floor. No charges laid. On Oct. 14, a male resident on the second floor is arrested for causing a disturbance at a barbecue chicken outlet.

In the early hours of Oct. 17, both police and fire services were called after vandals flood the 17th floor, damaging several apartments.

The month continues along. More assaults, and a couple of break-and-enters.


On Oct. 30, an electrical fire takes place on the 10th floor. Emergency crews attend. TTC buses are called in for residents to take shelter until it is clear to return to their apartments.

A few days later, it was the pepper-spray call, and yet another partial evacuation of the building.

"And you wonder why I have trouble sleeping," said Widdowson. "You wonder why I have a hard time trying to believe my family is safe."

Seven weeks ago, after one too many vandalism reports, the building's owners called upon the former property manager at St. Clarens Square to return to clean up the mess that began during the two years she was assigned to another property.

"It's going to be tough row to hoe," Patricia Marshall admitted. "But I've been in tougher spots.

"Two years ago, this was a quiet building. No fire alarms were being pulled. I had this place running like a baby, and it will be that way again soon.

"I'm putting my foot down, and I'm getting positive feedback from the responsible tenants here.

"Put it this way, the heat is on."

According to Marshall, the problem at St. Clarens Square, and the deterioration of the building, began with the trickle down of drug addicts and prostitutes who migrated there from a few blocks north.

"I have no desire to let them continue to control things, and I have no qualms calling the police," she said, indicating the eviction notices dotting the building are not only aimed at tenants who are in arrears, but at tenants associated with criminal activity.

According to Division Chief Jack Collins, head of the fire prevention section of Toronto Fire Services, there have been a number of violation notices issued against St. Clarens Square which, if not rectified quickly, could see the building's owners in court.


"We're working on these as we speak," Marshall said. "There is no problem. The owners have the financing, and it will get done.

"There are lots of good people living here, people with young children.

"This place will get cleaned up," she said.

Archie Widdowson, meanwhile, hopes this happens sooner rather than later.

His previous next-door neighbour had threatened to kill he and his family, and his current next-door neighbour has an eviction notice posted on his door.

"No, I don't get much sleep around here," Widdowson said. "Too much worrying.

"There's always something bad going down.

4. Helpful Safety Numbers

Summer 2007, Police have encouraged us to call Community Response Unit 416.808.1500 and the Drug Squad 416.808.1406 when we see people dealing drugs on Bloor Street.

• Emergency 911
• Community Crime Prevention 14th Division: David Hammill 416-808-1529
• Plain Clothes Police, 14th Division: 808-1406
• Community Crime Prevention 11 Division: Greg Forestall 416-808-1100
• Community Response Constable 14th Division: 416-808-1500
• Community Response 11th division call: Sgt. Darcy Moore 416-808-1137• • • Drug Squad 416.808.1406

• Police website: www.torontopolice.on.ca/d14/
•Streetlight Outage Hotline: 416 542.3195
• Abandoned or illegally parked vehicles 416-808-2222 ask for “parking”
• Directory for all city contacts, repair and improvement services:
Access Toronto 416 338-0338

Toronto Police Department, 14th Division sponsors the Community Auto-Dialler, a system that uses the telephone to inform members of the community, businesses and community organizations about incidents of crime and other information, important to the community. For example, information about children or elderly persons reported missing, crime trends and tips on Crime Prevention would be some of the topics covered. Become a member: participation forms are available on their website www.torontopolice.on.ca/d14

fax, pick up, drop off or mail to:
FAX: (416)808-1502

fax, pick up, drop off or mail to:
FAX: (416)808-1102

6. Safety Tips From 11 and 14th Division Police
You can minimize the chance of your home or business being victimized by using some of the following strategies listed on the police website as follows.

•Locks with keyholes in the knob are NOT reliable - they can be easily forced.
•Doors should be mounted so hinge bolts are not facing outwards.
•Install one-inch deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
•Chain locks are poor security - install a wide-angle viewer instead.
•Padlocks should be 'heel and toe' locking.
•If keys are lost, locks should be changed (at least the cylinders replaced).


Most windows can be pinned for security.
•Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail/pin in the hole to secure the window.
Sliding glass doors/windows can be lifted out of their tracks with relative ease.
•Install self-tapping screws in the upper track that allow the door/window to slide into place.
•Place a piece of wood into the bottom track - this will resist lateral forcing.

Security in an apartment building is as effective as you make it. Do not leave it entirely up to the superintendent of the building, or the police. The following suggestions can make the building a safer place in which to live.
•Report suspicious person to the building superintendent and/or police.
•When the buzzer rings, check the identity of the caller before opening the door.
•Do not identify yourself as a female living alone - use initials instead.
•Do your part to ensure stairwells and elevators are open and well lit.

•Always be alert to vehicles or persons following you into the garage.
•If you encounter a suspicious situation, or feel uneasy about the person or vehicle, remain in your car and drive out of the garage - if you are unable to get out of the garage "HONK" your horn.
•Always lock your vehicle and remove any valuables.

• Do NOT enter the elevator if you are suspicious of the occupant - WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE.
• If, while in an elevator an emergency situation arises, push as many buttons as possible, particularly the "EMERGENCY" button.


Operation identification is a program designed to discourage the theft of valuables from your home and other locations, provide a way to easily identify stolen property. Marked articles are difficult to dispose of and easily traced. If it is advertised that your valuables are marked using operation identification, you are less likely to be victimized. Operation identification works whether your property is lost or stolen. Proper identification makes it easier for the police to return personal property.

Contact your local. You will be loaned an engraver - free of charge. You will also receive an operation identification record sheet and decals. The decals should be placed at main entries to indicate that your valuables are marked.

Home items:
•Use a personal identification mark such as a social insurance number or driver's licence number.
Business, Schools and Organizations:
•Contact the local police and obtain a special identification number.

•Keep a record of your valuables.
•When engraving, hold the engraver straight up NOT on a slant.
•The engraver has a depth adjuster - the harder the surface, the louder the knob should be adjusted.
•The identification number should be readily visible without marring the appearance of the item.

-Antiques -Hand tool-Appliances -Lock boxes
-Bicycles -Musical instruments-Binoculars -Personal Computers
-Cameras -Power tools-Clocks -Stereos & speakers
-Compact Disc Players -Televisions-Golf Clubs -Typewriters
-Guns -Video Cassette Recorders

-Battery -Mag wheels-Hubcaps -Stereo & Speakers

-Coin/Stamp collection -Silverware - Jewellery -Watches

-Clothing - Furs

Operation identification is one basic step to prevent theft. Good lighting, good locks and other security precautions are also important ways to prevent crime in your community. Contact your police for more information on this or any other crime prevention topic.

8. Community Police Liaison Committee, start-up March 2006

Hi folks,
I went to my first Community Police Liaison Committee meeting last night,
along with fellow DIG-IN member Alec Wright, and just wanted to give you an

Passed along concerns about crime in the Lansdowne-Bloor. Was told that this
is an area of high priority for 14 Division. When they do sweeps for drugs
and for prostitutes/johns, they focus on Lansdowne and Bloor and on
Parkdale. They do these sweeps every couple of months. They tend to snag
more drug dealers up at Lansdowne and Bloor and more prostitutes/johns down
in Parkdale. The reason for this is the reputation of both areas. If you're
looking for drugs in the west end, you'll be told that Lansdowne and Bloor
is the place to go. Ditto for prostitutes in Parkdale. Two-thirds of drug
arrests occur at Lansdowne and Bloor and one-third in Parkdale. Police say
those arrested for drug crimes have and average of 13 to 18 convictions
already on their record. They usually end up getting time served and do
little time in jail. They view another arrest as the cost of doing business.
Police say they get frustrated when they see the same faces out on the
street. It's obviously frustrating for residents too. I don't know what we
can do about this. Any ideas?

Brought up the ongoing concerns about 1011 Lansdowne. One officer said that
if there is one apartment building in 14 division that he would advise Meals
on Wheels not to go into, it would be 1011 Lansdowne. But this officer went
on to say that the building is apparently under new management and things
have improved a lot. Police and officials from Councillor Adam Giambrone's
office are going to take a look at the building some time next month. (April
20, methinks). I'm not sure where all this will lead. I hope the city still
plans to take it over.

I also passed along Sandy's concerns about Dovercourt Park. Police said they
are well aware of residents' concerns here as they have received a number of
calls. They say the park is most definitely on the police radar. Cops on
biks are patrolling through there more and overall police are paying more
attention to the park.

I also learned that 14 Division is doing a lot of work to crack down on
grafitti. They hire kids to clean away grafitti. Didn't get a chance to talk
much about this, but I'm wondering if we can take advantage of this. I've
noticed a lot of grafitti at Lansdowne and Bloor.

There will be a town hall meeting on Sept. 26, at which the police chief
will be in attendance. It will be at Central Tech. I think it might be a
good idea for residents and DIG-IN members who have concerns about crime and
policing to come to this meeting and speak out or support others who speak
out. The only way we'll get our concerns addressed is if we make noise.
P.C. Dave Hamill has offered to come to the next DIG-IN meeting. I told him
I would get back to him on this. Any thoughts? I think he should only come
if we're going to have a substantive discussion about crime and policing.
Otherwise we would just be wasting his time.

Please forward me any concerns about crime or policing in the area and I'll
bring them forward to the next CPLC meeting on April 25.

November 19, 2006

Situational Prevention
Situational prevention can range from common sense safety precautions to comprehensive community planning. International research on situational prevention has identified effective tactics to reduce crime, as well as some measures that are less effective.

An internationally recognized approach called Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED, pronounced "sep-ted") is commonly used by architects, planners, builders and police services to create physical environments which reduce the opportunities for crime. This includes better lighting in public spaces, visible entrances to businesses and private property, deadbolt locks and peepholes on doors, and appropriate alarm systems.1

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in partnership with the RCMP, has included CPTED principles in a booklet and video that explain how to make proper use of design, lighting, alarms, landscaping, and so on to maximize home security.2

In the United Kingdom, a program targeting repeat residential burglaries was implemented in Kirkholt, one of the highest crime estates in Britain. Under the program, the physical condition of the area was improved by installing locks and new lighting in vulnerable points of entry. As well, small groups of neighbours were encouraged to create "cocoons" where they would look out for each others' property. Compared to the surrounding area, Kirkholt experienced a 58% drop in residential burglaries in one year, and a total reduction of 75% over four years.3

When this program was replicated in 1994 in the high-crime Montréal neighbourhood of St. Henri, the multi-sector "cocoon" neighbourhood-watch model resulted in a 41% reduction in residential burglaries over one year. A group called Tandem Montréal successfully implements the "cocoon" model in some parts of the city to this day.4

Regulations concerning firearms, such as the recently created Canadian gun registry, are also considered to be effective situational approaches to crime prevention (see "Don't cop out on the gun registry," by Edgar A. MacLeod, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, cited in the Globe and Mail, January 15, 2004). Other Canadian examples of effective initiatives to reduce the risk of victimization include programs to sensitize seniors to the dangers of fraud,5 self-defence training for women, and safety audits of neighbourhoods.6

Unfortunately, other projects which use situational approaches to crime prevention – such as the police-led "Neighbourhood Watch" and "Block Parent" programs that are most familiar to Canadians – have not been successful in reducing crime and victimization. A large-scale American evaluation revealed that these popular police programs fail to reduce burglaries and other target crimes, especially in high-risk neighbourhoods.7

Existing evidence should be taken into consideration when investing time and money in situational crime prevention programs. Knowing "what works" can improve the security of vulnerable individuals and troubled neighbourhoods, and can effectively complement social development efforts to reduce crime and victimization.

See the Tips for Parents & Caregivers section for an example of "target hardening," http://www.ccsd.ca/cpsd/ccsd/tips.htm which was one of the earlier situational approaches to crime prevention