Mystery solved after red tags appear on some Parry Sound cottages

Image example of the red tag appearing on some Parry Sound cottages Photo by Justin Shaver via Facebook

This spring, several Parry Sound cottagers grew concerned after finding red tags posted to their property’s front door. The tag read: “This cottage is being checked by the Ontario Provincial Police” and included a phone number. The number, when called, connected to the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA). FOCA staff recognized the tags as being part of an old program run with the OPP, but were unsure why they’d suddenly reappeared and who was using them.

Turns out, they’re nothing to be concerned about. OPP constable Joe Scali from the West Parry Sound detachment has cleared the air, explaining that the tags are from a program called Cottage Watch that the OPP launched in 1995, partnering with several organizations, including FOCA.

“Basically, officers, when they were on patrol, especially marine and snowmobile units, would come up to a cottage, and if they saw footprints around it or some other disturbance, they might go up and check the property,” Scali says. “We would put these red tags on the cottage door just as a sign that we’ve been in the area, your cottage was checked, and it was by us.”

The program was intended to reduce incidents of breaking and entering, especially during times cottagers weren’t likely to be up. The tags would alert owners that OPP had been on their property.

Cottage Watch is technically defunct, but when it was active, the West Parry Sound detachment ordered several cases of the tags. According to Scali, a whole case still exists. So, this spring, officers with the detachment used the tags on their patrols.

The benefit of the tags, Scali says, is that the officer who posted the tag will have noted the time they checked the property in their notebook. If another officer checks the property later and notices there’s been a break-in, they’ll know it must have happened since the property was last checked, narrowing down the incident’s timeframe.

According to Scali, the 2020s have seen significantly fewer breaking and entering incidents in the Parry Sound area compared to the 1990s. He suspects the patrols have helped with this but also credits demographic changes.

“There are a lot more people in the area,” he says. “With COVID, we had people up here that moved up to their cottages from the city, and now many of them have actually stayed here.”

The detachment will continue to use the tags until its supply runs out. So, if you find a red tag on your door, just know that it’s the OPP checking in on the property.

Featured Video