Crime rash troubles Queen Charlotte residents

  • Jan. 10, 2007 3:00 p.m.

by Heather Ramsay–A rash of crime in the west end of town has some Queen Charlotte citizens thinking about a neighbourhood watch program. Helen and Tom Kile spoke to council about several burglaries in the area at the first council meeting of the new year on Monday. Mrs. Kile, who lives on the hill behind the village office, said she knows of at least five break-ins in seven days in her neighbourhood. That’s bad enough, she says, but she is also troubled that she didn’t hear of these incidents for at least a week. She and her husband moved to Queen Charlotte because the community was so open and friendly, but she doesn’t think issues about crime have a high enough profile here. She suggested a phone tree might help, with people calling others to let them know about crimes in their area. Sergeant Neil Hogg, detachment commander of the Queen Charlotte RCMP, said neighbours alerting neighbours is important and a calling tree might help if it could be maintained. He didn’t consider recent burst of break-ins to be a rash, but there have been more than he is comfortable with. Sgt. Hogg suggested measures to prevent crime, such as not leaving valuables or keys in vehicles. He also said police require information from the public. He often hears people on the street say everyone knows who did what, but the police are still in the dark. “These things are talked about in circles the police aren’t privy too,” he said. The sergeant says if people are interested in starting a community patrol or neighbourhood watch, the police will do what they can to assist. Councillor Kris Olsen said break-in sprees are often attributed to certain individuals in town, who essentially go unpunished. He wanted to know whether thieves could be forced to do real community service. Mrs. Kile agrees. She says juveniles who get away with crime get the idea real fast. She thinks citizens need to know who the repeat offenders are and what they look like. Mr. Kile said even though people don’t like light ‘pollution’, there should be more light in the area. “I’ve lit up my place and no one comes in without being seen,” he said. He also noted the safety issue. One car disappeared into a deep ditch in his area because the driver couldn’t see it at night. Sergeant Hogg said lighting and cutting trees back from property is a known way of preventing crime, but several homes in the area are completely hidden by the terrain, so this is not entirely effective. Motion lights around the home are effective though. Ruth Kendall, whose restaurant kitty-corner to the high school was broken into before Christmas, asked whether a curfew could be instituted, especially during summer when young people always seem to be around. She said where she comes from certain ages were not allowed out after midnight. “I grew up like that and I’m a good girl,” she said. Sergeant Hogg said that is an issue people need to take up with parents. It’s not within his power to institute a curfew in town.