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
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.