‘I think it’s crazy’: Toronto home invasion victim slams advice from police officer

Click to play video: 'Toronto home invasion victim vows neighbourhood will protect itself'
Toronto home invasion victim vows neighbourhood will protect itself
WATCH: After thieves violently burst into his home to potentially steal his car, one man says he and his neighbours are planning to hire private security. Mark Carcasole reports – Mar 15, 2024

A Toronto man who says his wife was nearly shot during a break-in earlier this week has reacted to controversial and now infamous home invasion prevention advice from a police officer, calling it “a sad state of affairs.”

Peter, who Global News agreed to identify by first name only for safety concerns, spoke out Friday after experiencing a break-in at his home in the city’s east end early Tuesday.

The interview came after a Toronto police officer made headlines for his suggestion that residents leave their car keys by the front door to avoid a home invasion, seemingly to let criminals more easily steal their vehicle without confrontation.

The officer made the comments at a community meeting in Etobicoke last month.

While noting that police have always urged citizens to prioritize safety over a vehicle, the Toronto Police Service has since tried to walk back the officer’s remarks by highlighting other auto theft and home invasion prevention tips.

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“I think it’s crazy. I think it’s hugely flawed,” Peter said of the officer’s controversial statement, which has drawn sharp criticism on social media and also from Premier Doug Ford.

Peter said he found the advice “highly unusual.”

“The solution of accepting the fact that my vehicle will be stolen … accepting the fact that my house be broken into, is not a good solution,” he said.

The Toronto Police Service has said home invasions and break-ins related to auto thefts rose 400 per cent last year.

Peter said he has spent a lot of time and money to protect his vehicle, including installing a steering wheel lock and a special software system.

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He said even if a criminal had easy access to his car keys, they wouldn’t have been able to start the vehicle due to the protections he put in place.

“They’re forced now to go to the next level of coming up to me or my wife, putting a gun to our heads and coercing information to be able to steal that car,” he said.

He said his community is now coming together to work to prevent crime, including setting up a community watch system.

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“We’ll do everything we can as a community at our own cost. But at some point, we’re hoping that somebody will do something to join the dots that we all know exist out there to stop this from happening,” he said.

He noted the officers who responded to his home the night of the break-in “were fantastic.”

He said it happened at around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. He was asleep and suddenly heard people walking towards his bedroom.

“I heard the bedroom door open, I shouted,  jumped out of bed and, and went towards them,” he said, noting there were two intruders.

“That’s when they shot,” Peter said. The firearm used was allegedly a Glock 9mm handgun.

“I saw the flash and the sound and the smell.”

He said if the gun had been fired at a slightly different angle, his wife would’ve been hit.

The suspects fled and no arrests have been made.

Peter said the suspects had broken in through the back door of his home, smashing the glass with a hammer.

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“We believe they were looking for the keys to one of our cars,” he said.

He had just purchased a new vehicle a few weeks ago to replace another vehicle that had been stolen a year and a half prior.

“We think that they found out that there was a new car in the neighborhood and they were looking for the keys to this new vehicle,” Peter said.

“They didn’t get it because I think they were startled.”

Peter said he has since sold that vehicle — a Range Rover — at a $35,000 loss in favour of a vehicle that isn’t in demand for thieves.

“That’s what it’s come down to. I have to look at a list of vehicles that aren’t being stolen. That’s how I’m making my choice now,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Toronto tenants demand enhanced security measures after 6 recent car thefts'
Toronto tenants demand enhanced security measures after 6 recent car thefts

Peter said his wife is now “terrified” to stay home alone and his daughter won’t come for overnight visits.

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Peter said he is doing everything he can to protect his home with an enhanced security system and buying a vehicle that criminals “don’t want to steal.”

The community will put up more cameras and may even purchase private security at their own expense.

— with files from Mark Carasole

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