Editorial: Property crime is everyone’s problem

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.

More info can be found at www.morinvillecop.org and www.sturgeonruralcrimewatch.org.

-SD

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3 Comments

  1. Perhaps the parents with not enough sense to tell the 25 year old to move out would have enough balls to report their free loader to the authorities when items that certainly do not belong to the house or the individual are found…like plaques, signs, flags, lawn ornaments, cd’s, dvd’s, game consoles, tv’s, players…all the stuff that has gone missing in town and my neighbourhood…..from the yard, garages, vehicles, streets. The time has come to grow some and report the useless, thoughtless, little thievs that lives in your house…yeah you..you know who you are.

  2. On this issue Stephen, I’m going to have to disagree with your normally superb judgment. I don’t think anyone can deny that a group of young men after having a few too many drinks can cause some unwanted property destruction.

    However, out of all the examples you’ve given, almost none could be pinned on a ‘crime of drunken opportunity’

    4-5 incidents at the youth center: obviously not a post-bar galavant, this was done by minors who have been in the center.

    Metal logo’s: this one perhaps

    Speed education signs: pretty doubtful on this one, seems like someone with a very pointed agenda went out for a specific purpose.

    Tiny Tots vandalism: again, someone with a very pointed agenda would have done this, this isn’t a “hey lets see if we can climb this flagpole”. I have no idea what message they were trying to get across, but it most certainly wasn’t 20-somethings on the way home from the bar. Not sure how many people carry spray paint to and from the bar.

    Mac’s: I’m not sure what the story was here, so I can’t comment.

    So Stephen, only a FRACTION of the items you listed could have possibly been caused by 20-something drunken shenanigans. Even those could have been just as easily caused by 40-something drunken shenanigans, or 15 year olds with nothing much else to do.

    Finding an issue (vandalism), and trying to erroneously pin it on a culprit (20-something people) is disturbingly divisive at best. It encourages a fractured community, mistrust of young people, the continuation of a bad cycle, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, it distracts people from actually discussing the REAL cause and possible solutions to this problem.

    Closing every single bar in this town will result in at least 80% of your ‘examples’ still occurring, as they have nothing to do with each other. I’d love to cut down on the amount of property destruction in this town. To do so, I think we need to focus on a constructive dialogue and think about where we are pointing fingers.

    • I respectfully accept your disagreement. I’ve listed but a fraction of incidents in town and the Youth Centre is clearly not the work of drunks. I’ve said as much here. But vandalized lawn ornaments, news boxes over fences, tipped over portable signs on 100 Street, beer bottles and rye bottles smashed on sidewalks and in parks next to bent and damaged community signs most certainly is the work of drunks on a post-drunken-sot-walk-about. My experience in this community visually accesses most of that sort of thing to be the work of 20-somethings, although you are correct 40-somethings are as likely to do stupid things when drunk. Those incidences of small scale vandalism are far more common than angry and stupid anti-photo radar people smashing valuable education signs or little thugs looking to lift some video games. The central point is instead of bitching about it as we all are wont to do, we need to step up and at the very least phone it in rather than duck our heads behind the curtain and be thankful it is not our house or property being vandalized or complain that the police should be staking out a youth centre to save a few hundred bucks worth of gear.

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