By Lethbridge Herald on November 20, 2021.
LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
In recent months, I’ve written a couple of columns about residential crime and how we can protect ourselves from human predators by installing motion detector lights and security cameras. All were doing well for me until last weekend when someone actually stole my security camera from the driveway! Seriously, someone stole the security camera.
The individual, who can be seen crossing my front lawn coming from the direction of a cul de sac, walked up to the camera, looked at it and made some kind of a taunting motion toward the street. The slender individual, who was wearing a COVID mask, baggie pants and hoodie, briefly ducked out of view then is seen clearly walking down the driveway between two parked vehicles before turning and striding out of view. Obviously, the person wasn’t there to break into or vandalize the vehicles. That person simply wanted the security camera gone. It became obvious the individual had opened my gate — I hadn’t yet put a newly purchased lock on it — and he or she perhaps sneaked low along the fence and entered out of sight of the camera.
The individual must have unplugged the power cord from the unit and then removed it from the driveway before leaving. This person also stole a motion detector light I had in the back yard facing the alley where we’ve suffered drug dealings and cars sitting at idle at night for years. To me, this suggests where this individual came from given problems my neighbourhood has with residents of a nearby multi-family housing unit. The activity at that residence has actually prompted several people to put their homes up for sale and leave the neighbourhood. One neighbour even said earlier this year a drive-thru window should be installed there due to all the traffic at night. On a regular basis, my camera was capturing images of people on bicycles with backpacks going in front of my house toward the cul de sac.
As I told an officer on Saturday after discovering the camera’s theft, it’s like a deer trail from that place to the alley. Clearly, I touched a nerve but I’m not backing down. We have the right to feel safe in our neighbourhoods and our westside street isn’t safe. One neighbour has regularly seen bicycle people checking car doors by my home, one reason I installed the camera and lights. Others regularly see vehicles in the cul de sac making quick trips in and out of one home. Ditto with the unit down the alley where police have visited regularly in recent years. Numerous people on my block have endured vehicle break-ins and strangers in their yards. One even had a catalytic converter taken off a vehicle.
It’s frustrating and it’s angering. But I know I’m not alone. Property crime and drug dealing are everywhere in this city and people are fed up. One northside resident told me this week that the prospect of vigilantes taking matters in their own hands is rising.
This person also vented on me about slum landlords who don’t care about the quality of their tenants, a matter I also discussed with the police given the ongoing problems in our neighbourhood.
In a recent column, I clearly stated I’m opposed to vigilante-ism – it’s a dangerous idea that could put lives at risk and cost residents their own legal problems but after last weekend, I’m softening my stance because this is absolutely ridiculous. What happened to me is why I support our justice minister’s request to Ottawa to make pepper spray legal for self-protection. I support it wholeheartedly and would use it in a heartbeat if it was legal and I caught someone trespassing on my property. But it isn’t legal so I have to let the police and SCAN do their jobs.
Residents of our neighbourhood are on edge, we’re angry, we’re frustrated and we’ve had enough. At the slightest growl from our dogs, our household is up taking a look out the front windows and also peering into the backyard at night. Every single night. It’s exhausting and in my opinion, it’s completely the fault of the landlords of the two properties who are causing us so much grief.
A few people have wondered if at least one of them is taking a cut of profits from the drug dealing and stolen property trafficking or whatever is going on. It’s a valid question given how long we’ve endured this. We city residents need to stand up and speak out in unison about the problems here. One person last week told me Lethbridge is worse for crime than Edmonton where she used to live.
When someone steals a video camera, that says they’re threatened. And I have a sneaking suspicion who may be responsible although without clearcut proof, the police obviously can’t take action. While putting up Christmas lights on my back fence the day after the camera theft, two masked people on bicycles were riding down the alley toward the multi-unit place and suddenly stopped when they saw me. They rode back to the end of the alley and waited and I made them wait, taking extra time to put the lights up and talk to neighbours.
Both people could be seen on their cellphones, one riding around clearly impatient. Eventually, they rode off out of sight. Obviously, I don’t have the evidence to prove they were behind the camera theft but their behaviour was beyond suspicious.
The criminals aren’t going to win this round of the battle, though. I’ve talked to a security company and I’m taking action. I won’t be so stupid this time to think a camera in the driveway will be a deterrent. It was too accessible. But I am going to protect my family and my property.
We can’t let the criminals take over our city and in Lethbridge, it sure seems like they are in control despite the valiant efforts of our men and women in blue who are on the front lines of this battle.
Enough is enough!