728 x 90

Serial Taggers Strikes Multiple Locations

img

In the early hours of July 11, the Town of Swan River was the victim of vandalism as similar messages were painted on at least five different locations.
Many questions began circulating about the actions needed to be taken against these perpetrators and the continual disregard for property that has business owners up in arms.
“In the last 90 days there’s been 18 complaints of mischief,” said RCMP Sgt. Steve Henson. “Out of those, three of them were due to spray paint.
“If we go back in the last six years, there’s been a few incidences where people got carried away with stop signs and on buildings. It happens from time to time during the summers, but most of the time it’s not reported.”
Business owners awoke to the discovery and they immediately went into action to repair the damages with only a few reporting the incidents to police.
“Not only does it put a monetary strain on my business but it puts a really dark cloud over what I think is a beautiful community,” said local business owner and recent victim Derek Boychuk. “I hate to say that I used to love getting up early in the morning and making my way to the theater to get things warming up for the show that evening. But today, I dread it. Simply, I’m afraid to see what may have happened to my properties the night before.”
Recently, Boychuk has had to replace a window that was broken at the Star City Cinema and paint over the message on one of the five buildings that were spray painted on July 11.
“It’s not a great feeling, pulling up to see that broken window,” he said. “And, where does it leave the business? Out around $1,500 to replace the window. Sure, we have insurance but the deductible and the insurance premium increase after makes no sense in going that route. So now the business is out that money.
“This is just my experience as a business owner, but I know it’s happening throughout the town – in talking to other business owners, the vandalism and theft is going crazy.”
A plan needs to be put in place to stop the mischief and business owners in the town are calling for a positive outcome to stop the unnecessary damage.
“I would like the business owners, RCMP representation and Town to meet to discuss (what can be done),” said Boychuk. “We need a plan and we need to know what our options are. We need a strategy on the short term and long term. This needs to be lead by the Town and council needs to step up and begin working with our local businesses.
“I think we all have a tendency to want to place the blame on the recent vandalism and such on the RCMP, but we can’t. They have no resources, they just don’t have the people required to handle this area. They need our help, they need our businesses and residents to step up and work together.”
For the most part, the sentiment is mutual as RCMP continue to ask for the public’s assistance in these matters.
“If you see suspicious behaviors report it as it’s happening,” said Henson. “A lot of the reports that do come in, come in late and if something is happening we need to know right away. We try to partner with the community and we’re always looking for video.”
A Citizens On Patrol Program (COPP) could be a very real possibility in the town as the RCMP look at holding an information presentation to garner interest at a later date. The program was once a driving force here and would once again be community driven with the support of the RCMP.
As for the message left by the guilty parties, there are other options to get the RCMP’s attention that do not come at a cost to business owners of the town.
“With crime in general there’s different things they can do,” said Henson. “They can call Crime Stoppers anonymously or call us and request to be anonymous and we’ll use it as an information file. If there’s something more to do then we’d be looking to build some grounds to do something about it.
“Sometimes, we already know about the crime and we’re working on it. Most of the time people only give us a bit but they won’t tell us what we need to know,” continued Henson. “They won’t commit to a statement and we’re not going to get, for instance, a search warrant that way.”
As an example, a recent RCMP project resulting in several drug busts and three search warrants occurred within our Valley was the work of an inordinate amount of work and time turned what the police suspected, into something they could act upon and give the community a sense of justice.

img
Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
img