COLUMN: When is enough, enough?

By Steve Smyth

I spent an hour or so this morning watching videos posted to social media by ordinary Terrace residents like me. These were not videos of birthdays or graduations but of a group of thieves and lowlifes breaking into sheds, laundry rooms, homes and vehicles and stealing from them.

Every day, new stories are posted of stolen bicycles, skateboards, vehicles, tools and all manner of hardware. These brazen thefts are mostly carried out by a regular group of young, seemingly physically active people, most known locally and certainly known by police.

Camera technology has advanced, and prices dropped so low that any home or business can afford to acquire decent quality images and videos unheard of a few short years ago. The results of this, combined with the fact that nearly everyone carries a video camera on their phones, has changed what we are able to see – and not usually for the better.

In my younger days in Terrace, there were a few RCMP officers well known for dispensing “justice” to miscreants which didn’t involve the justice system. One local favourite was to take a person out to the Beam Station boat launch and have him walk back into town. If the offender behaved himself, he got to keep his shoes for the return journey. I also recall a certain group of Young Turks who took it upon themselves to pay visits to the local dealers late at night and explain the “rules” as to what they could sell and to whom. Sell some afterhours booze and a little weed, but leave the kids alone. If not, well, a return visit usually put an end to that home enterprise.

While I’m not advocating a return to “Northern justice”, the point is that these thieves are running rampant entirely due to the lack of consequences. The police and the legal system are overwhelmed and have no time to deal with this type of “victimless” or so-called petty crime. Even if they did, the revolving legal door would have the criminal back on the streets the same day, free to offend once again. I’m sure the judges would love to lock people up or send them away, but sadly, the criminals seem to have more rights and legal resources available to them than the common resident does.

While some of these thieves come from a bad background, at what point is enough? Who is buying all this stolen stuff? Would our resources and efforts be better spent in making life so miserable and untenable for these illegal entrepreneurs that they voluntarily pack up and leave town? I’m sure the local beat officers know, and it’s likely their bosses also know, but perhaps our city leaders can suggest to them as to where their priorities should lie.

It annoys me that I must lock my tool shed and vehicles. It irritates me that I usually walk out to my shed forgetting my key and must walk back and forth to the house retrieving it. It infuriates me that I have to lock my door while I’m watching TV at night. All this frustration is a direct result of no consequences for the actions of a few who know they will get away with it with no repercussions.

Eventually, and sooner rather than later, someone is going to be seriously hurt. Someone is going to have enough and will go overboard in defending their property. Now is the time for our civic leaders to say that we have suffered with enough criminal activity by these same people. It’s only petty crime if it’s not your property that’s being stolen.

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