You know how people say you can’t really understand how something feels until it happens to you? Well, it happened to me. As of Tuesday night, I can now count myself among the dozens of Peachland residents who have had their vehicle or home broken into.
In my case, it was my car, which was parked in front of our home. There are three vehicles in our driveway and mine was the only one stolen from; it was also the only one that was unlocked.
The thief (or thieves) took all the change in my car, but more importantly, they took my camera – the Nikon I used to take photos for The View, in fact. This is not only frustrating because we now have to replace it; I loved that old thing. To me it was like another limb, and I am genuinely sad that it’s gone.
I have to admit, though I feel victimized because something in my possession was taken from me, I feel I need to accept some responsibility because I am the fool who left one of my car doors unlocked.
Just the same, an unlocked door may be unwise, but it is most definitely not an invitation.
I suppose it could’ve been worse. My car wasn’t damaged, no one was hurt, to my knowledge – although I hope whomever took that camera stubbed his or her toe while fleeing our driveway, or at least got bitten by a really big bug!
Since last Tuesday, I have taken to Peachland’s Buy and Sell page on Facebook to ask people if they have heard about thefts in the area. The response has been overwhelming, and frankly a little disturbing. One woman said her new home had already been broken into a few times. Another said within two weeks of living here her bike was stolen and her car was broken into, and it was locked.
Another woman said her company vehicle was broken into as well as several cars in her neighbourhood. She said her neighbours even found a wallet that had been ransacked and tossed off to the side of the road. And a man wrote that he had tools taken from his shed just last week.
In response to the thefts some people told me they have installed sensor lights and/or alarm systems, which in some cases have proved to be an effective deterrent.
Still, it’s a kind of sick feeling knowing someone would attempt to go through your things while you’re not around. I can’t imagine how people feel when their homes are broken into.
So how does Peachland deal with this ongoing problem? I don’t think the responsibility falls on our Community Policing volunteers, as was suggested to me – they are just that, volunteers. I don’t expect them to patrol the neighbourhoods all night long, unprotected.
A greater RCMP presence would be nice, but on the other hand, I think Oliver is roughly the same size as Peachland and has its own RCMP detachment, so does Osoyoos, and there is still quite a bit of theft in both of those towns. Earlier this year a bunch of the wineries between Oliver and Osoyoos were hit pretty bad. Eventually this resulted in many of the winery owners getting together and investing in private security to protect their properties.
In regard to getting the camera back, someone suggested we put an ad in the paper asking whomever took to return it, no questions asked.
It’s not a bad idea; it might even work. But personally, I would ask questions – in fact, I would insist on it. Why should someone take something that doesn’t belong to them and get away unscathed because I want our camera back?
That only perpetuates the message that there are no consequences for committing a crime. And really, who does that benefit in the long run? If I rob a bank I’m pretty sure the bank manager isn’t going to offer not to press charges against me if I simply return all the money I stole; I don’t see why it should be any different for a punk who goes into someone’s home or car uninvited.
As far as the problem of theft in Peachland as a whole goes, I don’t know what the answer is, but I do encourage people not to take any chances. Lock your doors.
If someone steals from you, report it to the RCMP. And finally, I think we should feel sorry for the people who find themselves pillaging locked or unlocked homes and cars at night. Because as angry as I am, I think it’s really sad that people are so hard up that they resort to stealing in the first place.
I think a person who is that desperate needs more than the money they would get from hocking an old camera or some tools, to fix whatever is wrong in their life. Maybe they’ll figure that out when someone steals from them. Hopefully sooner.