Smith: OPP needs help to prevent vandalism, catch perpetrators

Maria Cicchini says she wakes up almost every weekend to find something else destroyed in her neighbourhood.


“In the last two years I can’t believe the amount of vandalism that is going on,” said Cicchini, who lives in the southwest quadrant of Erin village. “I’m just at wit’s end.”

She told council last week she moved from Brampton hoping to find a more peaceful and close-knit community, but lately that has all been for naught. She wondered why there is no curfew for youths in?Erin and said the community needs the help of police to prevent vandalism.

“We got to scare these kids a little bit,” she said. “It’s infuriating what’s going on.”

Scott Smith, commander of the Wellington County OPP detachment, said property crime and mischief are the two most predominant types of crime with which local police deal.

He noted there is a curfew for kids under age 16 under the Children and Family Service Act, but there is nothing police can do to keep older kids off the street. And the OPP pretty much has to catch someone in the act to solve acts of vandalism because there’s usually no suspects. Plus, most acts are unreported and even those with useful information are often un­willing to speak with police.

“It’s a challenging offence for us,” he said. “It literally be­comes a game of hide and seek with these kids.”

Smith explained the OPP need help and asks that residents call police if they find something suspicious and re­move any “tools of opportunity” vandals could use, including spray paint and eggs.

“There’s no practical need for kids to have either one,” he said, adding police have asked local stores to stop selling those items to youths.

But Smith stressed it’s dangerous to blame everything on kids, because often it’s the “20 or 30-somethings” committing the crimes. Regardless of age though, he said police may be able to solve crime but they really can’t prevent it.

“The root of the problem is much deeper than a policing issue,” he said. “People have absolutely no respect.”

Councillor Barb Tocher said vandalism has been going on in Erin since she arrived in the municipality over four dec­ades ago. She said it may be little consolation, but the current rash of crimes will likely die down soon because such things go in cycles.

Councillor Ken Chapman agreed, but highlighting recent vandalism at Victoria Park, he noted the incidents seem to be getting worse.

“This is getting beyond just vandalism,” and is costing thous­ands of dollars in damage, he said, adding something needs to be done in the next two months, when there typically is an influx of incidents.

Smith said residents should not hesitate to call police if they feel their property or safety is being threatened. He add­ed the property crime rate in?Erin remains far lower than those throughout the county, province and country.

“This is not unique to this community by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

Mayor Rod Finnie said while property crime may not be that bad in Erin, it could get worse. He echoed Smith’s sentiment about the community being proactive.

“In our own municipality, we have to be able to try to do things to get a handle on this,” Finnie said. “If we all do a little bit in our community, that amounts to a lot.”

The mayor added local ef­forts will likely never erase vandalism but they could help mitigate its effect on residents.