No­body should have to live in fear

Po­lice, com­mu­nity need to come to­gether to en­sure those guilty for rash of break and en­ters, ar­sons are brought to jus­tice

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Sense­less. That’s how one woman de­scribed the rash of break and en­ters and ar­sons that has rat­tled the Mount Stewart area lately. The com­mu­nity is un­nerved by the news that a to­tal of seven homes and busi­nesses have been bro­ken into since April.

The sit­u­a­tion is made even worse by the fact that not far from Mount Stewart, a hand­ful of ar­sons have placed Cherry Hill res­i­dents on high alert.

Eleanor Birt of Char­lot­te­town dis­cov­ered in early June that her well-main­tained, fam­ily homestead in the com­mu­nity had been thor­oughly vandalized.

Dev­as­tat­ingly, two weeks later, some­body torched the house where Birt was born and grew up along with her five sib­lings. “It’s a per­sonal loss for sure,” Birt re­cently said. “It housed a lot of mem­o­ries.” Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s com­mu­ni­ties, which dot this Is­land of nearly 150,000 peo­ple, are con­sid­ered safe places to live, raise a fam­ily, and re­tire. Thank­fully, for the most part, this is true. That’s why in­ci­dents like what are now un­fold­ing in Mount Stewart and Cherry Hill are so dis­turb­ing.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Gagne said it best when he said a break and en­ter is far more than just a prop­erty crime.

Speak­ing to The Guardian last week, the RCMP sergeant said the act can rob peo­ple of peace of mind and steal away a sense of safety.

Any­body who has been a vic­tim of a break and en­ters knows this all to well.

A break and en­ter, he said, is a “…vi­o­la­tion of your safe zone.”

That is es­pe­cially true in places like Mount Stewart and Cherry Hill and the many other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties across the Is­land where the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion is now se­niors. So what can be done about it? Mount Stewart res­i­dents have taken the first, pos­i­tive step.

Dur­ing a re­cent com­mu­nity meet­ing, res­i­dents voiced their fears and con­cerns. It’s im­por­tant that the com­mu­nity con­front this united.

The com­mu­nity is also look­ing at the es­tab­lish­ment of a neigh­bour­hood watch pro­gram. That’s another pos­i­tive step. In­stead of one set of eyes, thieves have to worry about a whole com­mu­nity watch­ing their ev­ery move.

Res­i­dents, who may fear com­ing for­ward with in­for­ma­tion, can also rely on Crime Stop­pers. The anony­mous tip line al­lows peo­ple who may know some­thing about the crimes un­fold­ing in these com­mu­ni­ties to re­port it with­out hav­ing to worry about their names be­ing at­tached to the tip.

Po­lice are also en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to lock their doors and win­dows, leave out­side lights on, en­sure a se­cu­rity sys­tem – if you have one – is on and not to leave en­tic­ing items like wal­lets and purses vis­i­ble through win­dows. But the com­mu­nity can­not do it alone. There is a role for po­lice. Know­ing what is un­fold­ing in Mount Stewart and Cherry Hill, the RCMP need to step up pa­trols in these com­mu­ni­ties.

Based on what is un­fold­ing, the RCMP be­lieve it is prob­a­bly a cou­ple of groups at work.

One group, the RCMP says, seems bent on mis­chief and van­dal­ism.

The other group ap­pears more fo­cused on steal­ing.

The good news is the RCMP has a cou­ple of leads and is ac­tively in­ves­ti­gat­ing the crimes.

What is un­fold­ing in Mount Stewart and Cherry Hill is sense­less.

It’s also un­ac­cept­able that area res­i­dents must live in fear.

Ev­ery­body in the com­mu­nity must work to­gether to en­sure those re­spon­si­ble for these sense­less crimes are brought to jus­tice.

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