A year ago, Penny Ennis, a former executive assistant who now runs a dog-walking business, approached Crime Stoppers of Halton.
She asked what she could do to raise awareness about the anonymous tipster program.
“I’m big on home security,” she said. “I want Halton Region to stay the safest community. It doesn’t matter if it is Burlington, Milton or Oakville, I just want to keep it all safe.”
Initially, Crime Stoppers Co-ordinator Det. Const. Paul Proteau thought giving Ennis brochures to distribute might be the way to go, but thought better of the idea in case people just tossed them aside.
Finally, it was decided that because Ennis walks around the community just about every day with her dog-walking business, creating a vest with the Crime Stoppers logo and phone number on it made the most sense.
Ennis, who has called Oakville home for 50 years, volunteered to wear the florescent fashion accessory ever since, soliciting plenty of interest from those who catch sight of her.
“I get stopped all the time... especially kids ask me what Crime Stoppers is and they are really quite interested. So, it really gets the word out there,” she said.
“It starts with just one person and then they tell their dad and so on and so on.”
Proteau said Ennis’ volunteer work is deeply appreciated and may even be unprecedented as he is unaware of any other Crime Stoppers units anywhere that have carried out this kind of promotion.
“I think it’s a great idea because she is basically a walking billboard for us,” said Proteau.
“Penny going out there and talking on our behalf and educating people really helps me out and helps out the community in general because now you have more educated people who know Crime Stoppers is not part of the police, but hands off tips to the police.”
While Penny said she is happy to get the word out about the tip line, she emphasized residents with information need to call Crime Stoppers and not give the tips directly to her as some have attempted to do on a few occasions.
This is not the first time Ennis has volunteered for Crime Stoppers of Halton.
In the past, she played the role of a captured crook on Crime Stoppers Christmas parade floats in Milton and Burlington and sold tickets for a raffle during the 25th anniversary of Crime Stoppers of Halton event in November 2013.
“People should get involved because it is a lot of fun. It is a good cause. I know there are different ways you can volunteer, but this way helps keep our community safe,” said Ennis.
Anyone interested in volunteering for Crime Stoppers by wearing a vest or T-shirt during their day-to-day activities can call Proteau at 905-825-4747, ext. 5139.
Anyone with information about a crime can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), through its website at www.haltoncrimestoppers.com or by texting ‘TIP201’ with the message to CRIMES (274637).