A town on edge

Recent robberies and home invasions in the town of Whitbourne have some citizens concerned. The RCMP has provided 10 tips for people to secure their properties in the community.

Arthur C. Green

The quiet town of Whitbourne is a close-knit community. People used to feel safe, leaving their doors unlocked. This has changed dramatically with three recent robberies in the town.

One couple – Dennis and Paula Flood – feel violated. They have lived in Whitbourne for 15 years and have never had an issue with their property. This sense of safety changed when they were away on vacation over Christmas. The Floods returned home to a nightmare.

“Our house was broken into,” Flood said. “All my jewellery, valuables and cash were stolen.”

The culprit gained entry through their basement door with a crowbar.

The Floods lost many valuables, including sentimental items that can never be replaced:  her mother’s wedding ring, a diamond tennis bracelet, watches and a special pair of vintage earrings owned by her mother from the 1950s.

Earrings like the ones that were recently stolen from  Paula Flood in Whitbourne. Image obtained from The Vintage Bling Box via Etsy.

“I would love to have them back,” Flood said. “Everything I had for 40 years – gone.”

Richard Sterling Thorne, who lives in Whitbourne, has been charged under the Criminal Code of Canada with property obtained by crime relating to the Flood’s robbery. He will appear in Harbour Grace provincial court on March 28 to face two counts of the same charge.

In addition to the Flood’s robbery, Whitbourne has also seen two more home invasions at night in recent weeks.

One elderly couple was sleeping when an individual entered their house in the dead of night looking for prescription medication.

Another couple stepped out for a coffee with their doors unlocked, only to return home to find items stolen. Although all three houses are on the same street, the incidents are not connected.

Cst. Lee Bennett from the Whitbourne RCMP detachment said he could not speak about any ongoing investigations. However, Bennett offered some tips on preventive safety for the community.

“The general public can follow these tips to keep themselves safe inside their residences,” Bennett said.

Ten tips for preventing home robberies and invasions

  1. Never confront an intruder under any circumstance.
  2. Invest in a residential alarm system.
  3. Keep property well lit. Motion sensor lighting is an affordable option nowadays.
  4. Ensure windows and doors are locked at all times. (Many people still have the old mentality to keep doors open all the time.)
  5. Call 911 immediately if an intruder is present.

If residents are away from home for extended periods of time, Bennett advises the following:

  1. If residents plan on being away from their homes for a prolonged period of time, never announce it on social media of any sort.
  2. Have a trusted neighbour or friend go by the home and check on it. Change the patterns of lighting in the house on their behalf – that is, turn on different lights in the house every few days.)
  3. Have someone shovel the driveway/pathway in winter to make it appear someone is home.

With regard to cabins/cottages that are left unattended in winter, Bennett says.

  1. Remove all valuable properties from the location prior to leaving for winter.
  2. If possible, visit the cabin every now and then to do a check on it.

The consensus of the town since the recent break-ins is that residents will be keeping a close eye on suspicious activity in the area, watching out for their neighbors and of course keeping their doors locked.

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