Ensuring personal safety is crucial in any situation, whether you’re an individual or a business.

General Personal Safety Tips
  • Plan Ahead: Map out your trips and routes in advance. 
  • Stay Visible: Walk on busy, well-lit streets. 
  • Stay Connected: Always carry a means of communication, like a cellphone. 
  • Be Confident: Walk with confidence to avoid attracting attention. 
  • Secure Valuables: Keep cash and valuables in front or inside pockets; consider using a purse or bag. 
  • Give Spare Change Safely: Take change directly from your pocket, not your wallet or purse. 
  • Seek Companionship: If uneasy walking alone, find someone to accompany you or call the Safety Ambassadors for a Safe Walk (604-689-4357). 
  • Act if Followed: If you think you’re being followed, call 9-1-1 and head to the nearest safe place, i.e. nearby business, building, fire hall, etc. 
  • Carry an Alert Device: Use a whistle or personal safety alarm to alert others if you need help. 
  • Avoid Weapons: Carrying a weapon is not recommended as it can escalate situations and increase your risk of injury. 
  • Ignore Harassment: If verbally harassed, do not respond; keep walking and call 9-1-1 if you feel threatened. 
Key Takeaways
  • Stay Alert: Be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Trust Your Instincts: Act on your gut feelings. 
  • Seek Safety: If uncomfortable, move to a safe place immediately. 
Safety for Businesses

Are you having trespassing issues? Learn about the VPD Trespass Prevention Program here.

Break-and-Enter Prevention Tips
  1. Maintain Exteriors: Keep your exterior clean, well-maintained, and well-lit, especially at night, to deter criminals. 
  2. Strategic Layout: Position checkout counters near the front for better monitoring. Display a “No Cash Overnight” decal or sign and clearly mark public and private areas. 
  3. Visibility: Avoid covering windows with large displays or posters. 
  4. Install Surveillance: Set up quality video surveillance at all entrances and consider an alarm system with visible signage. 
  5. Secure Areas: Lock staff and storage areas to prevent theft during business hours. 
  6. Respond to Break-Ins: If a break-in occurs, call 9-1-1 immediately. For delayed incidents, use the non-emergency line at 604-717-3321. Do not enter the premises; preserve the crime scene for police investigation. 

If you have been a victim of a break-in and your property is damaged, the BC Chamber of Commerce offers the Securing Small Business Rebate.

Shoplifting Prevention Tips

Your best tool for preventing shoplifting is to be vigilant and watch for suspicious behaviour. Common techniques used by shoplifters include: 

  • Padding Items: Adding extra items into boxes or bags of purchased goods. 
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Using an old receipt to walk out with unpaid items. 
  • Grab and Run: Grabbing items and running, often with an accomplice in a waiting vehicle (note the license plate). 
  • Groups of People: Using a large group to distract and cover theft activities. 
Tips to Prevent Shoplifting
  1. Greet Customers: Acknowledge everyone entering the store to reduce anonymity. 
  2. Keep Organized: Maintain neat and organized shelves for easy monitoring.
  3. Eliminate Blind Spots: Ensure all areas of the store are visible.
  4. Strategic Displays: Keep displays away from the front door to prevent quick escapes.
  5. Secure Valuables: Place expensive items in locked cases.
  6. Monitor Key Areas: Watch fitting rooms and restrooms closely.
  7. Accessible Cash Register: Keep the cash register within view and monitor it constantly.
  8. Secure Devices: Don’t leave cell phones and laptops unattended at service counters.
  9. Train Staff: Encourage employees to be observant and aware and train them to be good witnesses when reporting crimes.

For further training on public and private sector safety, refer to the VPD Shield Program here.

Refusing Services as a Business

While it’s good practice to serve everyone in the community, businesses are not obligated to serve every customer. Customers do not have an automatic right to be served. 

Your Rights as a Business

You have the right to refuse service to a customer if they: 

  • Use foul language 
  • Cause a disturbance 
  • Threaten violence 
  • Use drugs 
  • Have caused similar problems in the past 

You do not have the right to refuse service based on prejudice, such as: 

  • Sexual orientation 
  • Skin colour 
  • Culture 
Approaching the Situation
  • State Your Wishes Clearly: Begin by saying, “You are not welcome here. I want you to leave my store.” Provide a clear reason and speak firmly. 
What if the Customer Refuses to Leave?
  • Trespassing: If the customer refuses to leave, they are trespassing. 
  • Violent Situation: Call 9-1-1 and inform the call-taker of the situation. 
  • Non-Violent Situation: Call the non-emergency line at 604-717-3321 and/or contact Safety Ambassadors at 604-689-4357.
What is Considered a “Suspect?”

Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Recognizing and reporting suspicious behaviour can prevent potential threats to your business and the community. Trust your instincts and report anything unusual to the appropriate authorities. 

The VPD suggests using the OHNO approach: 

  • Observe: Pay attention to behaviours and surroundings. 
  • Hello: Initiate a greeting to assess the situation. 
  • Navigate the Risk: Evaluate the level of risk. 
  • Obtain Help: Seek assistance if necessary. 

Disclaimer: Avoid letting preconceived notions, biases, or discriminatory practices influence your assessment. Focus on the person’s actions, not their appearance. 

Download a Suspect Identification chart here.

Strategic Communication


  • Assume a suspect may attempt to assault you. 
  • Keep a safe distance or position yourself behind an object to create an “obstructive distance.”


  • Speak calmly and respectfully to potentially deescalate the situation. Avoid aggressive or loud speech, as it can escalate tensions. 
  • Use a confident voice and body language to inform the person of the denial of service and request them to leave. 

Give Them an “Out” 

  • If help has been called, inform the individual that assistance is on the way and give them the chance to reconsider their behaviour or leave. Do not attempt to trap them while waiting for help. 
How and Why to Report to the Police

Your safety and security are paramount. Reporting incidents to the police ensures a safer environment for your business and the community. Whether it involves vandalism, theft, or suspicious activity, prompt reporting allows law enforcement to respond quickly. While the immediate benefits of reporting may not always be apparent, continuous reporting contributes to police data, helping to identify patterns and prevent future incidents. 

Check out our chart on how to report here.

Care for Vehicles and Bikes
Vehicle Safety Tips
  • Hide Valuables: Keep valuables out of sight or take them with you. 
  • Turn Off Engine: Never leave your car running and unattended. 
  • Lock Doors: Ensure all car doors are locked. 
  • Park Wisely: Park in well-lit areas to deter theft and vandalism. 

For more tips on theft-from-auto prevention, visit here.

Bike Safety Tips
  • Secure with Quality Locks: Use a high-quality lock to secure both the wheel and frame to a bike parking structure. 
  • Stay Insured and Registered: Stay updated with your insurance and register your bike with 529 Garage.
  • Learn more about Project 529 and how to register your bike here.
  • Learn more about where you can register your bike for free here.
Reporting Theft
  • Call 9-1-1: If you witness an ongoing theft, call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not engage with the criminal. 
  • Prioritize Safety: Ensure your own safety first. 
  • Be a Good Witness: Provide a detailed description of the suspect, including: 
    • Height and weight 
    • Hair and eye colour 
    • Clothing 
    • Scars or tattoos 
    • Any weapon 
  • Know Your Location: Be aware of your location and the direction the suspect is heading. 

Shelters: 211 

For individuals experiencing homelessness or in need of shelter services, 211 is your go-to resource. Connect those in need with vital support services, including emergency shelters, food programs, and housing assistance. 

City Issues: 311 

Download the new 311 app to report non-emergency issues related to city property like potholes, graffiti, abandoned garbage, and road signs. Vancouver property owners and tenants can receive free exterior paint for the removal of existing graffiti, learn more here.

Non-Emergency: 604-717-3321

Report non-urgent incidents or concerns to the Vancouver Police Department’s non-emergency line. 

Emergency: 911 

Dial 911 for immediate threats to life or property that require urgent police, fire, or medical assistance. 

Safety Ambassadors: 604-689-4357

Our dedicated team of Downtown Safety Ambassadors is here to support you. Reach out for assistance with safety concerns or to request Safe Walks within our catchment area. 

All Nations Outreach Society, Hector Hill: 604-794-2913 

Any Indigenous individual seeking guidance or help from an elder, please refer to this contact. 

Women’s Safety and Outreach Program: 604-652-1010 

For women experiencing or having experienced partner abuse, sexual and physical assault, and/or emotional abuse, seeking safety and support. 

Mission Possible: 604-253-4469 

Mission Possible walks alongside people facing barriers to employment by providing supportive, transitional work experience and community for those ready to enter the workforce. 

Carnegie Outreach: 604-665-3318

Coast Foundation Society: 604-669-2447 

Contact a provincially funded outreach team. They link people to social, health, and housing services in a non-judgmental, supportive way in the downtown core. 

The Access and Assessment Centre (AAC): 604-675-3700

Aids individuals and families in accessing mental health and substance use services in the Vancouver area. Their goal is to match a person’s needs to the right services and resources at the right time. 

Healthlink BC: 811 

Call from anywhere in BC to speak with a nurse about non-emergency health matters any time of the day or night. 

Toxic Drug and Health Alerts: Text JOIN to 253787

A free, real-time text messaging service for receiving toxic drug alerts or sharing information about toxic drugs in the community. It is anonymous. Learn more about their services here.

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre: Call or Text 9-8-8 or Call 310-6789

Provides immediate, confidential, and non-judgmental support for individuals in crisis, including those considering suicide. 

Legal Aid BC: 604-408-2172

Offers legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. Services include representation, advice, and information on various legal issues. 

Covenant House Vancouver: 604-685-7474

Provides support for unhoused and at-risk youth, including shelter, outreach programs, and supportive housing. 

Submit a Resource:

Are we missing anything? Let us know by reaching out to dvbia@dtvan.ca.