Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Criminals get special Christmas card in B.C.

The front of a Christmas card issued by the Abbotsford,B.C. police department is shown in a handout photo.
The front of a Christmas card issued by the Abbotsford,B.C. police department is shown in a handout photo.

VANCOUVER Ho, Ho, How about turning yourself in?

The Abbotsford Police Department is expanding its annual Christmas card distribution list this year to include a few dozen noted offenders. Gang members and prolific and serial offenders are getting a specially-created card from the urging them to turn themselves in.

Police Chief Bob Rich, dressed as Santa in tactical gear, poses the question on the front of the card. “Which list will you be on next year?”

While most on the department’s mailing list will get a regular card with a regular greeting, between 50 to 100 recipients will get an extra message on their card: “You are always only one choice away from changing your life,” those cards will say. “We believe it is never too late to make a better choice for your life. For the sake of your family & for your own sake, consider 2013 the year you choose a new & better life. Make your New Year’s resolution now! We’re here to help.”

A phone number will be included in those cards that will connect callers to the department with a following message that they’ve reached the “resolution line.”

Operation Resolution, an idea taken from a similar program used in the U.K., is intended to target waffling criminals who may want to turn themselves in.

Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald said the targeted recipients are all known in some way to police, having been arrested before or wanted for past criminal actions.

In 2008 and 2009, the B.C. city east of Vancouver was the homicide capital of Canada due in part to shootings sparked by gang rivalries.

MacDonald said the department hopes the card may be a deterrent to some offenders who are planning seasonal thefts.

The cards went out on Friday and MacDonald said it’s still too early to know how many people will turn themselves in.

“At the end of the day, if people only see one option, they’ll only take that option. But we hope even if a couple of people see the possibility of other options, they may decide to change their path and this could have a big impact on their lives,” he said.

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