A rural neighborhood watch meeting scheduled for tonight in Christopher Lake has taken on added meaning after a rash of mailbox thefts that has residents fuming.
As many as six boxes were targeted across the RMs north of Prince Albert last night alone, with padlocks broken or key-entry boxes pried open. It’s the latest crime wave in the rural areas that has many residents desperate for solutions after a few years of escalating petty crime and break-ins.
One resident tells paNOW a community rural crime watch Facebook page now has over 1,550 subscribers and things are getting close to boiling point.
“From my point of view and from what I’ve felt and observed just within the group, there’s a lot of frustration there,” Geoff Robinson said. “I’ve got a bad feeling this is going to end badly.”
He said he dreads to think what might happen if some local residents catch the culprits in the act.
Robinson said despite regular reports to Canada Post and RCMP there “seemed to be little reaction from them for what is a federal crime.”
Asked if residents now need to take matters into their own hands by perhaps better illuminating and securing their rural mailboxes, Robinson said the onus was on Canada Post to secure mail and “citizens going out in the middle of the night to protect their mail is fraught with danger.”
Tanya Peters, another rural resident who had her mailbox broken into, said it’s a very onerous process dealing with Canada Post online but she’d like to explore having the mailboxes moved to more secure locations even if they’re not so convenient.
“The mailboxes are currently just off the highway so they’re an easy target for criminals,” she said. “My initial thought is moving our local box near my driveway because I have a dog and it would bark if anyone came by.”
Elaine McMillan has been the driving force behind bringing various RM residents together to create a formal crime watch group.
“The thieves have now determined these rural mail boxes are unprotected and a good way to possibly pick up cash, identity theft, whatever,” she said. “It’s very worrying when you know your mail is not protected.”
McMillan said Canada Post will need to look at the option of supplying mail boxes inside a secure building as they do for Christopher Lake and residents are given a key to access that building.
P.A. RCMP Sgt. Lyle Korzak told paNOW he understood residents’ frustration with the mailbox break-ins but said it was very challenging to track the suspects down.
“We need information; descriptions of any suspicious vehicles in the area we can check on and license plate numbers are even better,” he said. “We don’t know the time or place [they’re going to commit the crime] and just the volume of crime we deal with in the rural area it’s frustrating.”
The main purpose of the meeting at the Christopher Lake Legion Hall at 7 p.m. is to elect officials for their formal rural crime watch group board of directors. McMillan also hoped the group would adopt an official name.
However, given the severity of the mail box crimes she figured that and other issues would likely command discussion among disgruntled residents this evening. RCMP and some guest speakers will also attend.
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