Let’s do a headcount shall we. Youth centre window torched twice, window broken once, back door busted once, maybe twice. Those expensive metal town logos on the Centennial Fountain ripped off the bricks and probably now hanging proudly in some lay-about’s bedroom, which is in turn in his mom and dad’s basement because they lack the good sense to tell him that at 25 it is time to move out. Speed education signs on 100 Avenue destroyed or damaged with a vengeance. Add to that a generous helping of nonsensical graffiti on Morinville Tiny Tots Preschool, and more recently the Mac’s Convenience Store on 100 Street and you can see a bit of a problem here.
Property crime in Morinville is a problem, just as it is in Gibbons, Sturgeon County or anywhere else across the county. Listen to RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards give his quarterly policing reports to councils in the area more than once and you will see a recurring theme – property crime is the number one crime in the region. Seems people like to take other people’s stuff, and when they cannot take it, they’ll destroy it – often to the amusement of their equally drunken sot friends.
When something gets damaged over the weekend youth are often to blame. Those damned kids, people will say, jaws clenched, their fists shaking at nothing in particular. Oh, sure, it is almost certain that some under the age of 20 engage in their fair share of vandalism, but the true culprits are the roving bands of post-saloon drunkards that police try to keep corralled on the weekends.
Fueled with more booze than their brains or bladders can handle, they parade through the community, tipping, ripping and proving Darwin was wrong with each wobbly step.
After the Morinville Youth Centre was attacked for the fourth time over the May 11 weekend, several people offered their suggestions on curbing the vandalism there, several more offering their criticism of local police in failing to thwart the criminals.
Let’s make no mistake – the youth centre business was a series of targeted attacks by miscreants trying to get inside where the goodies were. Let’s also not be so naïve as to think our RCMP should stake out a facility to protect against the theft of a couple video game systems that should never have been left there after the first attempt to get them.
Morinville RCMP has a large area to cover in Sturgeon County, and while they do make routine patrols throughout the community, they cannot be everywhere all the time. They rely on community groups like Citizens on Patrol to be extra eyes and ears for them. But Citizens on Patrol cannot do a lot of patrolling without a lot of volunteers, something they did not have in abundance at last report.
If we want to reduce the amount of vandalism, break-ins and other property-related crimes, we need to help police by joining groups like Citizens on Patrol, Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch, or simply by picking up the phone and giving the police a call when we see or hear something that isn’t a good fit in our neighbourhoods.