October 20, 2015 - 4:30 PM
LAKE COUNTRY - The District of Lake Country is already known as a beautiful, quiet little community nestled between two major Okanagan cities, but a group of concerned citizens fear it is becoming known for something much more troubling.
Radmila Machalka has lived in Lake Country for eight years and is part of a group of locals organizing a community policing coalition to help fight what they believe is a growing reputation as an easy place to commit crime.
“Remoteness must be one of the reasons,” she says. “We are a very vulnerable community. Last year our trailer and truck was broken into and most people I know have been victimized themselves or know someone who was victimized.”
Machalka has helped organize a meeting tonight, Oct. 20, at 6:30 p.m., at the Easter Seal Camp on Davidson Road. She says attendees will share stories of what has happened, hear a local RCMP officer speak and formulate a plan to try and take back their town.
“It’s actually been something that I feel is happening more in the last two years,” she says. “I think they could be from around here or they could be coming from other communities. Myself, I don’t believe it’s just one group of people and if no one is ever caught, in a sense it’s inviting others to come here.”
Machalka says many of the people she has spoken to about this unsettling trend say they have had a hard time getting police to even come take their reports.
“One person has footage of a young man who spent 20 minutes trying to break into vehicles and going around the houses,” she says. “He was caught on the camera but RCMP refused to come.”
Still, she says she doesn’t blame the RCMP and believes they are just too understaffed to handle a large volume of complaints.
“The frequency seems to be almost on a daily basis,” she says. “A lady across from Jackson Court says she had four people dressed in dark hoodies trying to break into a trailer. She called the police and it took them 45 minutes to come. Another lady had her stuff gone through and her wallet was stolen. Her credit cards were used in Vernon so they could be coming from other communities. In my view it’s unacceptable.”
Earlier this month, Lake Country RCMP issued a media release warning people to keep valuables out of their vehicles and other steps to avoid making their property easy targets for thieves but Machalka says that's not enough.
Tonight’s meeting is only the first of a series where concerned citizens can volunteer for patrols, share information and strategies.
“I believe we all have to start with our own family and our own community to make a difference,” she says. “Families need to be aware of what their teenagers are doing because a lot of these people are young.”
A member of the local RCMP will be at the meeting tonight as will outgoing member of Parliament Ron Cannan.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015