Thefts from yard cost Duncan residents peace of mind

Shirley Kruse and her husband have so far lost a lawnmower and a beloved lawn ornament, and theirs isn’t the only house in the neighbourhood around Westview Street and Grieve Road in Duncan that’s had belongings pilfered from it by thieves.

"We’re being targeted big time up here," Kruse said. "When I go to bed at night I can’t help but wonder who’s crawling around my place and when I wake in the morning I wonder, well, what’s going to be missing today? I got on the verge of I wanted to cry."

The retired couple moved to the area a year ago, and have since heard of several lawnmowers in the neighbourhood that have been stolen, along with a two-man canoe that was chained and locked down, that everything from the garage of a resident on vacation was cleaned out, and even a compressor was snatched in broad daylight from tradesmen working in the area. They caught the thief in the last instance, Kruse said.

"People in the community should know what’s going on," said Kruse, who would like to see the thieves shamed.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesman Sgt. Chris Swain said the Kruse’s neighbourhood has not been particularly hard-hit as far as the detachment knows, these kinds of thefts from yards and vehicles are just a common type of crime.

"It’s a fairly common offence, unfortunately, but it is; people wandering around at night looking for something easy to steal," he said. "I’m hoping everyone phones police when something like that happens; not a lot of people do."

Notifying the authorities is important, even when the stolen items aren’t worth a lot of money, Swain said, because then police can get an accurate snapshot of what’s happening in a neighbourhood, and if it is being targeted they can step up their vigilance.

Police do conduct patrols at all hours, he said, and there is also the citizens on patrol group as well.

"There’s things we can do, and things we are doing," Swain said.

Kruse said the thieves likely think people’s insurance will cover the losses, but that’s not the case in many instances, such as the loss of their lawnmower. The deductible on many policies is so high that it more than covers the cost of many of the missing items, leaving the victims out of pocket.

The Kruses haven’t yet been able to purchase a new mower and have had to pay someone to come and cut their lawn.

The thefts, she said, are even more frustrating and bizarre when one considers that the stolen lawnmower was 16 years old, and the lawn ornament, taken last week, was broken, awaiting a fix with some glue by Kruse. The ornament is in the shape of a little boy with darkcoloured paint.

The first inkling the couple had of problems in the area came when they were waiting to take possession of their home and they had a call from their realtor who informed them that there had been a break-in.

The former owner’s belongings were still in the home when thieves used a chainsaw to cut a hole in the back door. They then boarded up the opening and proceeded to live in the house, eat the food in the freezer, and use the owner’s car to drive around town.

The perpetrators were caught in that case as well, Kruse said.

So far there’s been no such luck with the recent thefts.

It’s not just the items that have been stolen, however, it’s also peace of mind.

"They don’t realize, maybe they don’t care, it’s an inconvenience for the pocketbook for seniors, it’s heartwrenching," Kruse said. "Sometimes I’ll clean up at the end of the night and I’ll go out and put something in the garbage; I wouldn’t want to be out there if somebody’s in my backyard."