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A stolen bike; and an OPINION on our stuff and the RCMP

Bike stolen from a Rossland residence

If anyone sees the KHS model 650-800 mountain bike stolen from a St. Paul Street  residence in Rossland sometime between August 14 and mid-day August 16, please call the RCMP at 250-364-2566 or CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) if you wish to remain anonymous.  The bike, pictured above, has been modified since the photo was taken, and now has red grips, yellow pedals, and a black bike rack on the back of the bike. 

Now, the opinion:

Most people who have homes also have a lot of stuff.  Most of us have all the stuff we need, and then some – a nonsensical amount of stuff -- many people need to “declutter” periodically to get rid of excess stuff.  We have garage sales.  When we are preparing to move from one home to another, it becomes more obvious how much excess stuff we have, and we have moving sales, hoping other people will be willing to pay us something for all that stuff.

We are so accustomed to having all the stuff we need and then some, that we get careless with it.  We compound the nonsensical aspect of having excess stuff:  we carelessly leave valuable stuff in our cars, and carelessly neglect to lock the cars up.  We carelessly leave valuable stuff lying around outside our homes, or stash it in unlocked sheds.  Or we don’t bother locking our homes. 

And then ethically challenged people (AKA thieves) open our unlocked cars, or sheds, or houses -- and steal our stuff: our wallets, our ID, our credit and debit cards, our cash, our expensive bikes, tools, and electronics – just reach in and steal them, and when we discover their absence, we’re outraged and we call the police to report the theft and complain.

And the police spend their time chasing down our stuff for us.  Often they succeed, and more credit to them.  But they shouldn’t have to spend their time on that petty and completely preventable stuff.

In response to my query, the head of our regional detachment in Trail, Sergeant Mike Wicentowich, wrote, “When someone leaves their vehicle unlocked with their wallets and credit cards in it, the police have to investigate the initial theft of the wallet from the vehicle then the additional crimes of using the tap functions on the stolen credit and debit cards. One of my officers reported the use of stolen credit and debit cards is a daily occurrence, and sometimes several times a day, officers are called to investigate it.”

Personally, I want our regional RCMP officers freed up to spend more time on stuff that’s important to me – like enforcing rules of the road, so more people are encouraged to drive safely instead of like the apparently blind maniacs who drive 80 kilometers per hour in residential areas and school zones, who run stop signs, who use their phones while driving, who drive while impaired -- just to name a few of the unfortunately and dangerously common idiotic driving behaviours.

Our police have their own wishes about that, too.  Wicentowich indicated that the police would like to be more responsive to our communities’ needs, and that everyone can help by doing more to “reduce preventable crime” – in other words, securing our stuff.  Locking our cars.  Locking our homes.  He gave credit to Citizens On Patrol – COP – groups in communities that have them, and indicated that they may expand what COP groups do to include “Speed Watch”  and “Cell Watch” to reduce speeding and distracted driving.  He’d like to see these groups operating in all our communities. 

But forming vigilante groups is different, and is not helpful.  Wicentowich wrote,  “… a few on social media are calling for acts of vigilantism and forming mobs to carry them out against those believed to be involved in criminal acts.  The RCMP would like to remind those few that vigilantism does not help reduce crime nor address the deep and complex causes of crime.  Acts of vigilantism are in fact criminal acts themselves.  Any acts of vigilantism would require a lengthy police investigation and detract from the overall goal of reducing crime and victimization.”

Meanwhile, freeing up RCMP time by the simple expedient of locking our cars and homes, and  not leaving any valuable stuff lying around, would be a good start on reducing crime in our region – and freeing up police time for more productive efforts.

On the lighter side, for anyone who hasn‘t seen the late George Carlin’s stand-up routine on the topic of stuff, here’s a link to it:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac