Evan matthews valemount headshotIn the last week I’ve heard about acts of vandalism far too many times.

This week there were three homes targeted overnight, and owners waking up to broken windows. In the same week, there were holiday trailers and cars being broken into and damaged.

The valley is advertised as a place with low crime rates, but can we continue to say this while members of our community are left fearing for their safety and their possessions?

Crime stats for the Fraser Fort George Region in 2013 gave us some interesting numbers to look at. The population of the region was then 97,388. We had 154 police officers serving the population, equating to 632 members of the community to one police officer.

The crime numbers looked like this:

• Violent crimes – 2,586

• Property crimes – 6,751

• Other crimes – 4,229

To me — again, I’m new here — these numbers, especially in relation to property, seem surprisingly high.

Although these numbers include Prince George, research has shown rural communities to have higher instances of property crime per capita.

With few RCMP staff and a growing population in the valley, it’s almost unreasonable to have an expectation of high solve rates within the police force.

So what do we do?

Well first, we plead to the criminals. Why are you making a beautiful and peaceful place, not? Are you in such a dire situation you need help? Please, ask for it. The community is a giving one.

Secondly, we need to band together. If you see someone acting out, or acting suspicious, tell someone. Call a neighbour, a friend or the police.

Third, maybe we can organize our efforts, whether it’s through a neighbourhood watch program or something of that nature. If the community has an organized body, won’t criminals be less likely to defy a group with larger numbers?

As for RCMP, I don’t know much about their protocol. However, I do know that an increased police presence on the streets is always likely to scare off wrongdoers.

It’s been sad to watch some members of the community cry out in distress.

Valemount is a beautiful place to be, so let’s keep it that way.

I personally don’t want to live in a community requiring video surveillance on every house, padlocks on every door, and people living in fear.

Let’s hope this issue gets dealt with soon.