Southlands residents say an excessive number of vehicle break-ins have taken place in their neighbourhood within the last few months, and they’re worried about it.
Over the last few months, there have been numerous reports of vehicle break-ins and suspicious activity in the Southlands section of St. John’s, and the community is not happy about it.
One resident, Sarah O’Rielly, woke up one morning to find her vehicle in shambles.
“I got home from work late and I went straight into the house. I guess I forgot to lock my doors. I woke up the next morning and my car was a mess.”
O’Rielly is one of the many victims of the Southlands break-ins and she is not the only one still searching for answers following the incident.
“My Visa had been used at Tim Hortons at around 3 a.m. but police did nothing to get security footage or try to figure out who it was,” O’Rielly said. “My security cameras showed two men going through all the cars of my neighbours looking for unlocked doors and they found mine. I just took the loss on losing my stuff and cancelled my cards.”
Const. James Cadigan with the RNC could not comment on this particular incident but did make a general comment about the force’s approach.
“We investigate these matters thoroughly and we will take every avenue to investigate,” said Cadigan. “If she feels there was more we can do, she can contact us.”
Another resident of Southlands, Renee Pendergast, recalled the morning she woke up to find vehicles on her entire street had been targeted.
“They took around $15 in change, sunglasses, anything they could get their hands on really.”
The biggest shock to Pendergast was that when she talked to her fellow neighbours about the hit on their street, she found out that a vehicle belonging to a couple next door was stolen from their driveway.
“They went through our whole street,” Pendergast said. “My neighbour went out the next morning and his vehicle was gone out of the driveway.”
Within a few weeks, the truck was found near Cape Spear completely destroyed by a fire.
There have been many requests for a Neighbourhood Watch in the community, but Southlands MHA Paul Lane says one has yet to be formed. A virtual meeting was held before Christmas, but there was not enough interest in the community.
“People will bring forth the issue, but a lot of the time when we get down to what are we going to do about it, not as many people come forward.”
Lane explained that in order for a Neighbourhood Watch to work, community involvement must be present.
“Unless you’ve got a champion or two who is dedicated to getting the work done, it is not going to happen.”
Although there is an outcry in the Southlands community through Facebook and direct reports to Lane, a full committee has yet to be formed.
“The reality of it is people are busy,” Lane said. “They have busy lives, and with most people, if it doesn’t impact them today, then they’re going to forget about it, and that’s not a Southlands thing or a Neighbourhood Watch thing: That’s just human nature.”
Cadigan said he was not able to comment on the actual numbers of break-ins that have been reported but did say there have been reports. Cadigan did, however, comment on how to prevent break-ins.
“We ask that these type of things be reported,” Cadigan said. “Leave nothing in your vehicle that is in plain sight, especially valuables. Keep your front parking areas well lit and doors locked.”
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you can call the police main desk at 709-729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.