December 7, 2010
It’s the holiday season; the time of year when the trees come alive with lights and colors; families come together to share love and joy with one another; the time of year that all the troubles of the world should vanish and peace should reign supreme. Maybe that’s why when the police broke into my car while I was out shopping. Nobody, even my family, didn’t want to hear it.
It was a busy day at the mall. I and my wife, had spent the morning fighting the Christmas crowds in order to buy a little December 25th love. After an exhausting three hours we returned to our car to find a note on the drivers seat.
At first, I was alarmed at the fact someone had opened my car to leave, what I thought, was an advertisement. I felt as if my privacy had been invaded! “The nerve of someone going in my car, my private property, to leave me an unsolicited ad,” I thought. When I looked at the laminated pamphlet, I was even more shocked to see it was from the Toronto Police services and the Insurance Bureau of Canada! It was a note, from Toronto Police Services–which included an issuing officer’s badge number–telling me that that my car door was left unlocked and that it would have taken 30 seconds to steal my car! The note had several other boxes which the officers were to visually search for, such as keys in plain view and valuables in plain view. If the car was locked, without keys in it, the officer was to check the congratulatory box and leave the note on your windshield. I looked around and didn’t see any notes on any windshields. The cars around me didn’t have notes inside. So essentially, the police singled out my car, illegally entered it, did a visual search of it for “ the keys” and “valuables” and left me a note. Not to detract from the seriousness of the situation and my own anger but the officer didn’t even lock the doors behind him! If my car was in danger of being stolen at any minute–so in danger that he felt the need to open my car, check for the keys and leave me a note–he could have at least locked the door!
My mind instantly recalled a story that I heard about a year ago where the police checked front doors in England to see if the doors were locked. If they found one that was open they entered the house to inform the residents that they may be at risk of unwanted people entering their house… like the police. Some may say, “well it’s a house and they just entered your car.” This is true, I thankfully, don’t live in my car, however, it is still my private property. They have now set the precedent that they can, at any time, enter your private property, for “your own protection.”
My wife and I were furious. We weren’t sure what to do, but thought we should at least file a complaint and let them know that what they did was wrong. So the following day, I phoned Toronto Police Services to report a crime.
After being transferred around, I was put through to an officer that worked out of the note issuing branch. I told him, “I would like to report a crime.”
“What exactly happened sir?”
“On Sunday, someone entered my car and left me a note telling me how easy it was to steal it.” The officer began to laugh. He then went on to explain to me how we’d had a rash of car thefts in the area and how this was a new crime prevention initiative.
“Is this not a crime though, am I wrong? Could I do this to someone else’s car?” What he told me, may be some of the most chilling words which I have ever heard.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
“Better us than a criminal. It’s for your own protection” chilling words followed by, “I don’t have time to talk about this anymore, if you have a problem talk to a lawyer.” That says it all.
It sent shivers up my spine. To rephrase what he said, “yes it is a crime but it’s ok, we’re the police. We will commit this crime to protect you from crime; violate your rights to save them; ignorance is strength” The Orwellian-ness of his argument is astounding.
I wish I had myself a little more together for this because I would have shot back that it’s worse for the police to break the law than criminals! God help us if the people that are supposed to be the benchmark for justice and lawfulness–no matter how small the crime–break the law themselves.
I wasn’t finished though because I had one more question that needed to be asked, “what if you found something in my car when you opened the door?” This was followed by an accusing back and fourth about what I have in my car that I don’t want police to see.
“I don’t have anything in my car but if I did have something, anything illegal what would happen? Would you just leave a note?”
“No sir, we’d wait for you to return and arrest you.” Needless to say, I was shocked by his honesty but not surprised by the answer.
“How is this legal? You entered my vehicle, without my consent or a warrant and would arrest me if you found anything?” To which I was, again, kindly told to get a lawyer and our conversation ended.
So to recap and to let all the Canadian’s out there know, and our American tourists, the police in Canada can now enter your car “for safety reasons,” do a visual search for “keys” and arrest you if they happen to find anything illegal (which in Canada could mean something as simple as a pocket knife that’s too long!) This is for our safety!
The last twist in the story for me is simple the fact that it’s Christmas. You know why they are doing it now? They are doing it because of people like my mother. I love her to death, but when I called her to let her know what happened, she yelled at me and told me, “It’s Christmas! Why can’t you be happy and let me be happy?” That is, unfortunately, the dominant ideology and why Christmas is the perfect time for tyranny to creep one step closer. I’m sure it also factored into why December was chosen as a good time to violate our rights! Moreover, I’m seen as “the bad guy” for bringing people down!
You know, I’m the same as everyone else. I don’t want to deal with it because it’s Christmas after all! I spent my whole day following the officer’s advice and looking for lawyers instead of Christmas presents; writing the press instead of writing Christmas cards! You know what I want for Christmas? I want my rights back and the true safety and protection that those rights afford me.