When it comes to combating crime, Terrace and Thornhill residents could copy the take charge actions of the farming community of Briercrest, Saskatchewan.
On May 3, residents of the prairie village – population 123 in the 2011 census – helped the RCMP locate a trio of truck rustlers who found themselves on foot after a resident, suspecting they had stolen the truck they had driven into town, snatched the keys from the ignition at the first opportunity. That left the city slickers conspicuously on foot in a strange town. In addition, the person who lifted the keys was able to provide police with a description of the truck’s occupants.
Only as recently as April 28, residents fed up with vehicles being stolen from their area sought suggestions from RCMP for ways to reduce their losses. The result was the setting up of a telephone tree, one resident to phone the next at any hint of more thefts. (A telephone tree could also serve as a local Amber Alert if one were needed.)
May 3 at 4:30 a.m. Milestone RCMP received a report of a stolen grey Dodge Ram located in Briercrest. The vehicle had been reported stolen out of Rouleau, SK. (Dog River of TV fame.) Further investigation revealed that another stolen vehicle, a white Subaru Forester, was located in the town of Rouleau, SK. The white Subaru was reported stolen out of the City of Regina. (Clearly these brains had been jumping from one stolen vehicle to the next.)
The RCMP contacted neighbouring Moose Jaw and Regina detachments and traffic members. Seven RCMP attended along with Chevy, the tracking dog, who had to give up when wet ground erased all scent.
The Briercrest community mobilized their phone tree, alerting residents of the three suspects whose whereabouts were unknown and to report any sightings or suspicious activities to RCMP but not to engage the quarry.
Residents fanned out in their pick-up trucks; others residents canvassed boggy areas with quads. A local pilot searched from the air.
Shortly after noon May 4, a resident reported to RCMP sighting three people walking through a wet and muddy field, a field impassable to RCMP 4x4s. A farmer scooped up four Mounties in the front bucket of his tractor and ferried them to the three suspects. The three, ages 16, 16, and 17, were arrested and were to be charged with Theft, Possession of Stolen Property, and Breach of Probation.
These Regina thieves failed to take several facts into account. Briercrest and its surrounding farmland is so flat there’s scarcely a knoll or twig to provide cover for a lizard.
As a rule, country folk recognize every local vehicle and its customary driver. Any vehicle new to town would be noted – and tracked – from the moment it arrived.
Briercrest is mere kilometers from Claybank, so named because the area was the source of excellent clay for a business manufacturing clay bricks and pipes. Wet clay gums up on feet and tires until a tire becomes too thick to fit under the fender. At this time of year, spring runoff can transform area farms into bogs, submerging large tractors and delaying spring seeding until the ground dries out.
Before driving off into the hinterlands where gas stations are often few and far between, check the gas tank gauge.
Residents have grown fed up with vehicle and other property thefts and are determined to stop it. Anyone contemplating stealing grain from an isolated Briercrest bin, or livestock from a solitary pasture should keep this story in mind.
Briercrest folk proved to be a formidable posse and if needed, could quickly mobilize again.