By Alex Rinfret-Dozens of Masset residents have volunteered to form a “citizens on patrol” group following a public meeting Thursday to talk about the skyrocketing rate of break and enters.
More than 100 people packed the community hall for the meeting, and many spoke about how their lives have been affected by the surge of break-ins and attempted break-ins.
Masset is no longer a community where people can leave their homes unlocked while they’re out getting groceries, or park their car and leave the keys in the ignition, Sgt. Jim Vardy said.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been 53 break-ins and attempted break-ins, Sgt. Vardy said – including two that very afternoon. That compares to a total of 63 reported break-ins and attempts during all of last year.
Of this year’s break-ins, 31 have been to homes in Masset, 8 to businesses in Masset, 7 to homes in Old Massett, 4 to other structures (including a fishing lodge in Haden Harbour) and 1 in Port Clements.
Mayor Barry Pages had invited provincial court judge Agnes Krantz to the meeting, but she wasn’t able to attend due to short notice. However, a representative from the crown counsel’s office in Prince Rupert, Claire Ducluzeau did fly over to Masset to be there for the meeting.
Residents raised several concerns, including the way suspects are routinely released while awaiting their trial and often end up committing more break-ins, the length of sentences, and the use of drugs and alcohol in the community.
Sgt. Vardy suggested that residents form a “citizens on patrol” group which could go out on foot or in vehicles and be an extra set of eyes and ears for police in the community. The police did put on extra patrols themselves and worked with volunteers from the Masset fire department the first two weekends in March. There were no break-ins during that time.
Many residents put their names forward at the end of the meeting. Other solutions discussed by the community include
Â• posting the names and/or photos of people who have been charged and released with conditions on MHTV, along with a list of their conditions.
Â• making sure no one in the community buys stolen goods
Â• keeping homes and vehicles locked up, with valuables out of sight
Â• having ordinary citizens, especially elders, attend court regularly to see what goes on there
Â• to speak out against drug dealing
Â• to seek support programs for community members who have fetal alcohol syndrome or drug addictions.
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