Abbotsford police give criminals gun-toting Santa Christmas cards

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew
Abbotsford police are giving unique Christmas cards to crooks this year.

As Christmas cards go, it's a little out there: Santa Claus wearing a police tactical vest and helmet and holding an assault rifle.

It might be novel, even a little humorous, but you probably wouldn't want to display it on your mantel. Because if you got one, it means you're a crook.

The police in Abbotsford, B.C., are sending this card, signed by Chief Constable Bob Rich, who's also the red-suited Ramboesque elf on the front, to people on its naughty list, The Canadian Press reports.

The greeting says: "Which list will you be on next year?"

A phone number on the card is a contact for offenders to call to leave a message if they want help in making changes to their lives, CP says.

[ Related: Once a gangster haven, Abbotsford recorded no murders in 2011 ]

"We believe it is never too late to make a better choice for your life," the card says, according to the Abbotsford police's news release. "For the sake of your family and for your own sake, consider 2013 the year you choose a new and better life. Make your New Year's resolution now! We're here to help."

Abbotsford police have dubbed the initiative Operation Resolution.

"We wanted to do something different but to also stay true to the spirit of the holidays and the New Year," the department says in its release.

"We sincerely believe that the holiday season is a time for reflection for many people in our community. A positive change can reap rewards and benefits far beyond the impact to a single individual. The APD supports those positive changes year round."

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It's not the first innovative public relations stunt by police in Abbotsford, a Fraser Valley city of about 170,000 roughly an hour's drive from Vancouver, notes the Vancouver Province.

Last year, they took a Hummer SUV seized from a convicted drug dealer under civil-forfeiture legislation, painted it with anti-gang messages and police colours and drove it around the city, the Province reports.

Abbotsford has been the home base for members of the Red Scorpions and United Nations drug gangs, including the notorious Bacon brothers, which operated in the Lower Mainland region.

But the city has tackled the problem head-on through outreach to young people and a program urging businesses such as restaurants to shun gangsters.