Crime spree has council concerned

Erin is undergoing “a bit of a crime spree” according to Mayor Lou Maieron.

He asked county council on May 24 if more patrols in Erin village might alleviate the problem.

Maieron said several incidents occurred “over the last three weeks.” In general, cars have been entered and their contents have been stolen. He said, “Residents ask me what the police can do.”

He then made a suggestion.

“Obviously, lock your cars seems to be a solution,” he said.

But Maieron told council, it seems the culprits are moving from one section of town to another in that community, leading him to wonder if the thieves are local or from out of town.

Not only are things being stolen, he said, “Things are being destroyed.”

Maieron said there “seems to be a lack of penalty.”

OPP Staff Sergeant Susan Gray was attending the meeting for Inspector Scott Smith. She said police are aware of the problems in the community and police have “a couple of people in mind” for the crimes.

She reiterated an OPP slogan by saying, “Lock your vehicles and protect your property – and close the garage doors.”

She added, “Those with cars locked were not victims.”

Police Services Board chairman Lynda White said she is willing to take the issue to the board. She added that residents in Wellington are fortunate because they have a county police service with the costs shared. She said in some smaller communities, the policing costs are too high.

“A lot of smaller communities … have to bear the brunt of policing costs. Some 50 to 60% of a budget can go to policing costs.”

(White recently took part in a Federation of Canadian Municipalities round table discussion on that issue, for which she was thanked by FCM director and county councillor Joanne Ross-Zuj.)

Councillor Ken Chapman, also from Erin, said he has locked his vehicle for many years. He knew of at least two people who usually lock their vehicles but inadvertently forgot, and paid the price.

“People are feeling violated,” Chapman said. “People are feeling their small community is disappearing. Young teenagers hunt these places.”

Chapman said he knows of a couple of instance where there were attempted break-ins at motor homes. “It was probably kids wandering around subdivisions doing what they want at will.” He said one resident actually saw an attempted break-in and, fortunately, did not attempt to approach the culprits.

“People are feeling apprehensive during the dark hours,” Chapman concluded.

OPP officials said there are a few more patrols taking place in the community, but the best defence is a good lock that is put into use.

Chapman said he has heard of gas caps being ripped off of vehicles and thieves are fortunate that people’s dogs are not being loosed upon them.

“These people are not necessarily from the village,”he said of the thieves. “They could hit other areas.”

Chapman said the problem is a number of strangers in town wandering around.

“You should lock your doors … but you should know the police are in the area in the dark hours.”