When Sheldene Guillas walks through a neighbourhood, she's thinking like a criminal.

"I'm noticing how dark and secluded it is because of these small trees," she said as she led a CBC reporter down a River Heights street.

She's also looking for open doors, windows and whether a home has dead bolts.

"I'm looking for things like bars on the windows to stop me from breaking in or a motion detector light on the front of the home, or can I break in through their if they have a lock on it or not," she said.

But Guillas is no criminal. She's a home security expert with Safety Aid from A&O Support Services for Older Adults (formerly Age and Opportunity).

She visits homes and looks for vulnerabilities.

"Realistically it's about making your home not a target," she said.

Winnipeg police say their latest campaign, Project Comet, will hopefully curb the number of property crimes in River Heights and other residential neighbourhoods.

Members of the police service spoke to reporters on Wednesday about Project Comet, in which officers and cadets are warning residents to protect their homes from break-ins and theft.

About 94 per cent of crime in River Heights is property-related crime, and there's usually a spike at this time of year as the weather warms up and homeowners tend to leave their windows open, doors unlocked and garage doors up, according to police.

Cadets and officers are going door to door, reminding people to keep their windows closed and home and vehicle doors locked, especially when they're not home.

A Project Comet letter sent to homes last week has these other tips:

  • Close and lock garage doors at all times.
  • Don't leave valuables like bicycles and lawnmowers in the yard.
  • Install light timers and/or alarm systems in the home.
  • Park in well-lit areas and always lock your vehicle.
  • Don't leave laptops or other valuables inside your vehicle.
  • Let your neighbours know if you're going to be away.

Police say they hope the public can help them stay ahead of the crimes.

Guillas added that there are a few simple fixes you can make, such as having a night light to deter intruders and installing dead bolts and peep holes to see who's on the other side of the door.

And above all, she said, don't leave items in view that might tempt thieves.

"If you buy a new TV, don't put your old TV in the back lane for someone to take because a criminal would see that and think, 'Oh, they must have a new TV, so I should break into that house,'" she said.

Guillas said your best defence is always your neighbours, who have sight lines of your house.