Used needles and bicycle thefts: Rutland residents speak out against constant crime - InfoNews

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Used needles and bicycle thefts: Rutland residents speak out against constant crime

Matthew Singer and Steve Wraith say used needles on the ground are an everday sight in Rutland.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Steve Wraith
June 12, 2019 - 6:30 AM

KELOWNA - Every morning, Matthew Singer looks through the hedges in front of his parents' property for needles, crack pipes and drug bags. He's constantly on alert for dangerous items left on his property. When his kids play outside, he's worried they'll step on a hidden needle or broken glass.

Singer has lived in Rutland for his entire life; he's a third-generation member of the area. In the last eight months, he said the problem with vagrancy, open drug use and crime has spiralled out of control in the area. He and his neighbour Steve Wraith are fed up with the endless stream of illicit activity on their street and they're asking the City of Kelowna to step up.

"It's so bad that kids can't even go outside and play," Singer said. "I believe Rutland's in a state of crisis."

Singer and Wraith say they see used needles and open drug use in their neighbourhood on a daily basis. They've often seen people walking down the streets with needles sticking out of their legs. Singer's truck has been broken into multiple times. One night he found a naked man hiding in his garage.

The men say one of the focal points of crime in Rutland is a property on 300 Nickel Road. Many people on social media have accused the property as being a "chop shop" for bicycles and a hub for stolen items. Wraith said he recovered a stolen fridge from the property.

Recently a pile of bikes was collected outside the property with a sign saying, "Free compliments of story tellers and tattletailers," which Wraith said was a response to the neighbourhood's complaints about the thefts. He said he's often been threatened with violence for speaking against the criminal element.

Bikes were recently piled outside the Nickel Road property.
Bikes were recently piled outside the Nickel Road property.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Dave Conrad

"You give these guys an inch and they take a mile," Singer said.

Wraith and Singer often call the police to report crime in the area, but they say police will often not arrive at the scene, and if they do, they don't do much beyond making the accused criminals move along. Singer said he understands cops are working hard and their hands are usually tied when it comes to vagrancy problems, but it doesn't make the situation any less frustrating.

"It's not safe out here," Wraith said. "Someone's going to step on a needle."

Wraith decided to take their concerns to the City. He emailed Mayor Colin Basran's office weeks ago and finally got a response on June 11. Wraith organized a tour of the neighbourhood for Mayor Basran and MLA Norm Letnick on June 25 so they can get a first-hand view of the problems facing residents.

"Rutland needs some sort of representation," Singer said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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