Abbotsford police say the Christmas cards they sent to criminals last month featuring a gun-toting Santa Claus have actually generated some positive responses.

Const. Ian MacDonald said of the 70 greeting cards mailed out urging past offenders to stay off Santa’s naughty list, police have so far heard back from three people.

“They appreciated the Christmas cards, but more importantly said they’re going to make better choices in the future,” MacDonald said.

“That has to be a success. And I should go further and say that we did not receive any negative [responses] from any of the recipients.”

The cards made international headlines in December, drawing the attention of Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa, among others, while also receiving some criticism for the depiction of Santa in tactical gear.

Others questioned whether the cards were an appropriate use of police resources, an issue MacDonald was quick to dismiss.

“The total cost for our initiative was $325,” he said, adding that Santa has been used for various marketing and messaging purposes for decades.

One of the recipients contacted police via email to thank them for challenging him to make better decisions. Another phoned the Abbotsford police help line to express his gratitude, and the third sent officers a Christmas card in return.

“This individual took the time to actually handwrite a Christmas card to us,” MacDonald said. “His first and opening line said that he’s committing in 2013 to make good decisions and change his behaviour.”

The campaign was also supported by Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman, who said he appreciated the unconventional approach.