The latest rash of break-ins and theft are more indicators that property crimes and “mischief” are on the rise in Trail.
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Smashing windows at St. Michael’s school in East Trail and stealing a cotton candy machine, breaking into the West Trail water tower for whatever reason, dismounting and stealing the city’s parking fine collection box – these are only a few examples of property crimes that have occurred in just the past few days.
What’s going on? Why are the more typical “crimes of opportunity,” such as stealing from unlocked cars, escalating to hands-on damage and violation of public and private spaces?
The Trail Times asked Sgt. Mike Wicentowich what is behind these seemingly endless reports of misdemeanors.
“We are in the midst of an opiate crisis,” the sergeant began. “So I do think that has some influence on the amount of crimes that involve property … I would call them minor crimes, but all fall into the same category of small mischief and property crimes, which seems is our biggest issue right now, aside from traffic.”
The latest theft of city property has changed the way Trail will do business.
After the bright yellow repository for parking fines was stolen from Spokane Street early Monday, the city has removed the other two. Parking tickets, at least for now, can only be paid at Trail City Hall or online.
Theft of the receptacle and whatever money was within, adds to the mounting cost – more than $30,000 – of repairing or replacing parking meter heads in downtown Trail. Since May, 40-or-so meters have been broken into for change.
Video surveillance footage from the area is under review. The city is asking anyone who made a payment at the collection box between Thursday (Oct. 18) and Monday, to contact Michelle McIsaac, corporate administrator, at 250.364.0800.
As far as St. Mike’s, a window was smashed by a unknown suspect, or suspects, and entry was gained into the school around 2 a.m. Sunday.
Food and drinks left over from St. Trinity Parish’s Saturday tea were taken as well as the school’s cotton candy machine.
The site does have an alarm system so officers were quick to respond. For that reason, the cotton candy machine was abandoned nearby and subsequently recovered.
“The police have gathered forensic evidence from the scene and will continue to investigate,” Wicentowich said.
“Earlier in the night, the police had investigated another window being smashed at the school. It is believed the two incidents may have been connected.”
In addition to the escalating volume of violations, the face of crime is changing as well.
On Wednesday, the Trail detachment was working on a pubic release about a man and woman, not locals, actively committing theft and fraud in the business community.
“We want to warn the public about two people, from out of the area, that are targeting unlocked vehicles and people leaving their purses in shopping carts, basically unprotected (property),” Wicentowich explained. “They are stealing and then using the credit cards, and whatever else is in the purse, to purchase things around town.”
The RCMP will be publicizing surveillance photos of the pair and asking anyone who sees them at-large to call it in.
“Again, the police do what we can to catch people and put them in jail,” he said. “However, we still need people to lock their doors, lock their car doors and protect their items.”
Sgt. Wicentowich has been working in the Kootenays for 18 years, a decade of those years in Trail.
”We are not living in the same world as we were,” he warned. “And there’s going to continue to be frauds and thefts of this nature for the foreseeable future. We do have criminals that are educating themselves and, as time goes on, we will have these trends.”
The Trail RCMP asks the public to continue to report suspicious activity if they should see it. The city encourages anyone with information about vandalism and theft, or any other criminal activity in the community, to contact the detachment at 250.364.2566.