Rash of break and enters, arsons rattles P.E.I. communities
Mount Stewart residents are unnerved by a rash of break and enters in this quiet community.
There have been a total of seven homes and businesses broken into since April.
“There is a high level of concern in the community, considering the bulk of our population are seniors... a lot of them live alone,’’ says Maxinne JayDoucette, chairwoman of the Mount Stewart Community Council.
Residents voiced their concerns and fears at a recent community meeting. As a result, the possibility of establishing a neighourhood watch is being explored.
“Everybody certainly came together and that’s a good thing,’’ says Jay-Doucette.
RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagne says break and enter is far more than just a property crime.
The act can rob people of peace of mind and steal away a sense of safety.
“A break and enter is a violation of your safe zone,’’ he says.
“I don’t know anybody that just brushes that (being victim of a break and enter) off.’’
Gagne says the Mount Stewart community has cause to be concerned by the spate of crime that has included two break and enters in April, one in May, three in June and another in July.
“Based on what we are seeing, it is probably a couple of groups at work,’’ says the sergeant.
“We have a few leads that we are following up on.’’
One group, he notes, seems bent on mischief and vandalism, while another group appears to be focused on stealing items.
Electronics, money and liquor are among the items reported stolen in the recent break and enter stint in the Mount Stewart area.
Not far from this community, a handful of arson incidents have placed Cherry Hill area residents on high alert.
Eleanor Birt of Charlottetown discovered in early June that her well-maintained homestead in Cherry Valley had been thoroughly vandalized. Two weeks later, someone torched the house where Birt was born and grew up along with five siblings.
The fully furnished, medium sized two-storey farmhouse was recently refurbished with heirloom sofas. It was reduced to rubble.
“It’s a personal loss for sure,’’ says Birt. “It housed a lot of memories.’’ Birt’s late father Harold Coffin built the house.
The old farmhouse had housed many family reunions over the years, including one just four summers ago that attracted about 80 people.
While Birt was devastated by the vandalism, then again by the arson, she feels sorry for the person or persons that set her home and other buildings in the area ablaze.
“I’m sorry for our loss but I’m not angry because what does that do?’’ She adds,
“It’s so senseless.’’
Eleanor Birt and her brother, Garth Coffin, stand in front of the razed farmhouse in Cherry Hill where the pair grew up along with four other siblings. The fire is one of several incidents of arson in the area being investigated by the RCMP.
RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagne says police are “bolstering’’ their efforts to address a string of break and enters that have occurred in the Mount Stewart area over the past few months.