The Sticky Files - Marisca Bakker

It takes a village to stop a crime wave

Marisca is frustrated with the uptick in crime in Smithers

A couple of years ago my house was broken into. I was out working late, covering an election and when I came home, I discovered my basement window had been broken. I called the police and they came over and walked through the house with me. My underwear drawer was open. I had a small amount of cash on my dresser that was missing and my husband’s collection of international money was gone.

Thankfully my jewelry box wasn’t touched. But I felt so violated. We work hard for our things and we thought we had a safe house. I couldn’t sleep for a long time. In my case, the police suspected someone and eventually he was caught red-handed. He went to court months later, was given a slap on the wrist and sent off on his way.

It is frustrating. I feel for everyone who has been a victim of the recent uptick in thefts. Numerous bikes have been stolen, downtown merchants have been physically attacked, houses have been broken into; it is awful. People don’t feel safe in our small town anymore. You can’t leave your door unlocked.

How did we get here?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know blasting people’s names you suspect are stealing all over social media isn’t the answer. You’re setting yourself up for a defamation suit and not helping someone who may be changing their ways.

I also know blaming town council for allowing tent city in Veteran’s Park is not going to solve anything. Mayor Gladys Atrill said the town does have a requirement to make some space available for people who are not adequately housed and there isn’t housing available for everyone.

The town doesn’t have a lot of pieces of vacant property. Council has said they are trying to do the best with what they have and their hands are tied. Councillors have decided it is better to have the tents in the open, where they feel safe and where the people living there are closer to resources. Goodacre Place has a waiting list.

I wish I had simple answers and we could get rid of the thieves and feel safer in our community again. But I don’t. And I don’t think there is a simple solution. It may be our justice system or our lack of resources to help those who need it.

But what I do know, is that we can take a few steps in the meantime to help. First of all, locking everything up, possibly getting security cameras and reporting things you see that are out of the ordinary are good first steps. If you have the time, volunteering with the Citizens on Patrol would also be helpful. They currently only have a couple of volunteers.

People can also write to our local MLA and MP about the need for more resources, more police officers, more mental health workers, more support for those battling addictions.

And if you have lots of time on your hands, think about running for town council. Elections are this fall and nomination packages are available at town hall already.

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Or if you are short on time but might have a couple of extra dollars, donate to the food bank. If the problem of theft is people stealing money for food, then having a fully stocked food bank might be helpful.

It is time we take our community back, but it is going to take all of us, in some capacity or another.


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