Police in Canadian city send special Santa greeting cards to criminals
Gangsters in one of Canada's most crime-ridden cities can expect a special greeting card this Christmas - from a local police chief dressed as a jolly Santa Claus carrying a machine gun and wearing SWAT gear.
The card was being mailed out this week to "prolific offenders, property offenders and persons known for drug and gang activity", said police in Abbotsford, near Vancouver.
It shows Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich in a Santa costume, wearing a bulletproof vest, a helmet and toting automatic weapons, with the caption: "Which list will you be on next year?" alluding to Santa's naughty or nice list.
Dubbed Operation Resolution, the Christmas mail-out is intended to remind career criminals that "they have an opportunity to make a different choice", said a statement.
Inside the card there's a phone number to call if they want to turn their life around. The same card, without the inside message, is being used as the Abbotsford police department's regular Christmas card.
According to the government's statistical agency, Abbotsford recorded the highest number of murders per capita in 2008 and 2009, but public safety in the city of 170,000 has since improved.
Constable Ian Macdonald told local media that dozens of the cards were mailed.
The Abbotsford police have made no apologies for the attention-grabbing image.
Reactions were mixed.
"Using the image of Santa with guns is just plain wrong," one reader told The Province newspaper. "It would only bother me if I was on the naughty list," added another.