By Paul Hutchings and Cory Hurley
DEER LAKE Deer Lake residents are feeling frustrated and uneasy following the latest rash of vehicle break-ins.
“If they found my lights, I want them back,” said Deer Lake resident Dave Watkins, after hearing a 21-year-old was arrested Thursday evening and more than $5,000 in stolen property was found in his home.
“I lost the lights I bought for my plow before the snow came, they cost me (a lot of money).”
Watkins has had three break-ins to his vehicle at his Thomey Place home in the past year. Most recently someone smashed the side window of his Toyota Matrix and took nothing, but found the plow lights nearby.
In one of the other incidents, thieves took about $10 worth of change from his car’s console, and a camera, which didn’t appear to be on the culptits’ wish list.
“I found that camera in the bushes nearby — they didn’t even want it,” he said. “You can’t feel safe anymore, no matter where you are. I don’t even lock my doors anymore or keep anything in the car, hoping they’ll just not damage it when they get in.”
Watkins believes the thieves know the patterns of the police patrols and operate accordingly. He said he will file a report.
Deer Lake resident Cory Serrick will also be contacting police. He lost an iPod Touch from his truck earlier this week while he was away from home at a friend’s house.
Serrick said his truck’s doors are in need of repair, because they do not lock. Normally, he said, he would not leave anything out overnight.
“It takes away any feeling of security. They’ll steal anything, it doesn’t matter to them,” said Serrick. “The iPod gone isn’t so bad, but they’re lucky I didn’t see them get into my truck.”
Meanwhile, Steven Saunders, 21, of Deer Lake appeared in provincial court in Corner Brook Friday. He was charged in relation to the string of vehicle break-ins reported in Deer Lake Thursday, according to the RCMP.
Crown attorney Lori. St. Croix told Judge Wayne Gorman her office was still receiving and compiling information from police in Deer Lake. She requested Saunders be held in custody until Tuesday afternoon, at which time the Crown will decide whether to release him or undergo a bail hearing.
Saunders was charged with possession of stolen property and breaches of a probation order and a court undertaking when arrested in Deer Lake Thursday. He also faces charges of possession of stolen property and a breach of probation from Nov. 19 and a breach of a court undertaking from Dec. 23.
Deer Lake RCMP Sgt. Cal Barter said police are finding an increased amount of prescription drug abuse around the Deer Lake area, which probably correlates with the increased vehicle break-ins, with addicts looking for extra money.
“It should be reported to us right away, waiting a week or two or three doesn’t work,” he said. “If they can tell us about it, we may be able to get fingerprints or other evidence and can offer better service.”
Barter said the usual warnings apply, such as do not leave valuables in your car and always lock your doors, and call police or Crime Stoppers if suspicious behaviour is observed.