More than a hundred concerned citizens were joined by local politicians and law-enforcement officials last night at the first meeting of a rural crime watch group in Christopher Lake.
Organizer Elaine McMillan, a long-time cabin owner who has lived at Christopher Lake for the past year, said she started the initiative in response to a large number of crimes reported through a Facebook page shared by several RMs. Farms and acreages are regularly targeted by fuel and vehicle thieves, she said, where cabins are often plundered by criminals in search of alcohol, cash, electronics and other valuables.
“I think we’ve got to go back to the old days where neighbours look out for neighbours,” she said.
Her own vehicle was rifled through by thieves, McMillan said, despite a number of security measures. Although she supports government initiatives such as the newly-formed Protection and Response team, she said what’s really needed are more people watching out for each other.
“We’ve got cameras, we’ve got a large dog, we’ve got motion lights; it didn’t stop them,” she said. “With many more eyes, eventually I’m hoping this thievery will stop.”
McMillan put up posters and advertised on social media to generate interest, but said she never expected the idea would be so well-received. She said she was “floored” when more than 130 people attended the first meeting.
In addition to Lakeland residents like herself, McMillan said the meeting was attended by concerned citizens from Prince Albert, Duck Lake, Paddockwood, Buckland and Garden River. Some seasonal cabin owners living as far away as Saskatoon expressed interest, McMillan said, and local RM councillors and law enforcement officials also attended.
“The bigger area we’re covering, the more eyes, the better,” she said. “The thieves don’t stop at the RM border.”
McMillan said the crime watch initiative is meant to help law enforcement agencies by passing on information and looking out for other residents, not confronting criminals directly. By organizing a group of vigilant neighbours, she said they can help the police by passing on detailed reports on any suspicious activity and keep an eye on each other’s property.
The group is hoping to start passing information to the authorities as soon as next month, McMillan said. The core group is meeting again Tuesday to plan their next steps and another public meeting is already in the works.
“All the comments have been positive,” she said. “I think it’s going to fly.”
On Twitter: @TMacPhersonNews
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