Southey residents seek answers on rural crime
RCMP members met with residents in Southey on Wednesday to tell them what police are doing about rural crime, but had no easy answers for how to deal with an intruder.
The RCMP has been holding town halls in its detachment areas across the province in response to concerns about crime in rural Saskatchewan. Such crime is something the RCMP said its statistics indicate is trending down, but that is little consolation to residents.
Approximately 60 people attended the meeting. One question that came up multiple times was how property owners should handle intruders who come onto their land with the intent to steal or do harm.
Darrell Wagner, a resident of the RM of Cupar, asked what someone should do if a person enters his house with a gun or a knife.
Police did their best to advise residents on what actions they should take, but aside from seeking safety and calling 911, Sgt. Dean Gherasim said he couldn’t give a simple answer because every situation is different. Gherasim said there are provisions in the Criminal Code that allow someone to protect themselves or their property, but the way they do it has to be reasonable.
“Whatever decision you make, you will be asked to justify why you needed to take that course of action,” said Gherasim.
One resident asked what he should do if someone tries to steal his truck. Const. Jack Clay cautioned that confronting someone could change the situation into something more serious.
Referencing the scenario of a stolen pickup truck, Clay asked “Even the pickup, was the pickup worth that? If you end up in a situation where lives change drastically?”
Police urged residents to report crimes. The information, even if it seems trivial, can help. Police said in many cases the culprits hit multiple areas, so what might seem like isolated crimes could be part of something larger happening.
When it comes to crime prevention, Clay said there has been a resurgence in rural crime watch groups, which work with police. Messaging technology is helping crime watch groups become more effective. Residents communicate suspicious activity to one another in a group chat through a free messaging app called WhatsApp. An RCMP liaison also monitors the chat for any tips.
Police advised investing in trail cameras or putting up warning signs if a resident owns a dog. Residents were also advised to lock their homes and vehicles.
Southey resident Thera Nordal said there is tension that comes from people being afraid of being put in a situation they may not be able to handle.
“It’s more driven by fear, I think, because you hear about your neighbour or you hear what’s in the news and you think ‘Gosh, what if that’s me.’ So it’s scary,” said Nordal.