A handful of break-ins early last week has business owners and municipalities scratching their heads.
Early in the morning hours last Tuesday in Pouce Coupe, Stitchables, the spa, and the post office were all broken into. Oddly enough, aside from the damage, nothing appeared to be taken — no computers or office supplies were taken from the post office, for instance.
“When I talked to the officer, they were saying it was unbelievable how many break-ins there were that morning,” says Sukrit Parmar, who owns the Stitchables and spa building. “They said Pouce is very crime free.”
What was the motivation? Parmar suggests perhaps it was just a “joyride.” Others in Pouce suggest the break-ins were a diversion for a bigger break-in in Dawson Creek.
And they weren’t the only ones to report a break-in in that timeframe. On the edge of Dawson Creek, PrairieCoast Equipment reported that Tuesday that three John Deere Gators had been stolen overnight.
That makes seven stolen gators since August 8, says PrairieCoast Dawson Creek branch manager Clint Switzer. He is skeptical of the diversion theory, however.
“I don’t think think they’re always the most intelligent. [. . .] Like in this case, they rammed through the front gate, and bent our gate all off,” he says. “That yellow gate out in the front is not even locked, so they’re running into an unlocked gate.”
And an increase in such activity, is something Switzer has noticed over the past few years.
“We’ve noticed a real increase in theft activity over the last three to four years,” he says. “We also deal with a lot of rural farmers, and we’re hearing the same thing from the farmers, we’re hearing the same thing from the acreage owners, as well as business owners who are being broken into.
“Part of the general community of Dawson Creek is suffering far more thefts than they did, say 15, 20 years ago. I’m from here. I hear about it, used to be maybe monthly from farmers and property owners, and now I’m hearing about it from business and farmers almost daily.”
What’s a business to do?
“What we’re doing is spending a bunch more money on ramping up security, ramping up sensors, trying to ramp up our cameras outside, and doing what we can to prevent, because after the fact, we really haven’t seen any success of either any type of recovery. The RCMP in any event I have heard of where they have actually made arrests, the courts are releasing them under probation and fines almost immediately, and away they go again,” says Switzer.
“We think that the only thing we can do to help ourselves is to try to prevent the thefts versus trying to recover the theft.”
For Parmar, the damage from the break-in just adds to the stress, which includes work that still needs to be done from last year’s hail storm.
The Village of Pouce Coupe discussed possible preventative measures for the post office including bars on the door and security cameras at the most recent council meeting. (Afterwards, the post office was reportedly not receptive to the bars idea).
“Christmas is right around the corner, so we need to get it done as soon as possible,” says Mayor Lorraine Michetti.
While police presence in Pouce, or lack thereof, was an issue raised around the municipal election, in a report to Pouce council, Staff Sergeant Damon Werrell of DC noted the RCMP completes regular pro-active patrols — “an effort to be visible in [the] community to deter crime,” rather than a call for service — saying in the month of September there had 39 during the daytime and 45 at night.