(MENAFN - AFP) 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 jolly Santa Claus and packing heat.
The card is being mailed out this week to "prolific offenders, property offenders and persons known for drug and gang activity," said police in Abbotsford, British Columbia near Vancouver.
It shows the police chief in a Santa costume, wearing a bullet-proof 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 used in doling out presents or hunks of coal to children.
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 then been improving.
Dubbed Operation Resolution, the Christmas mailout 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.
Constable Ian Macdonald told local media that dozens of the cards were mailed, making no apologies for the attention-grabbing pistol-packing image of ol' Saint Nick.
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.