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Deer Lake Crime Prevention Committee

Exerpt from The Western Star
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DEER LAKE A series of four daytime break-ins in Deer Lake should be a concern for the entire town, according to representatives of the Deer Lake Crime Prevention Association and the RCMP.

In response to the incidents, the crime prevention group will be re-focusing its efforts on recruiting for the town's neighbourhood watch and is asking townspeople to become more involved in reporting suspicious activity in their area.

The break-ins that prompted the effort are believed to have occurred on Sept. 5, and are still under investigation, according to RCMP Cpl. Ross Pritchard. They were discovered following a call from a local resident reporting that the family home had been broken into.
Police discovered property damage at the address and believe money was taken from the property.

Shortly following the first call, it was discovered that three other homes in the Upper Nicholsville Road, Main Dam Road and Gatehouse Road area had also been broken into. All of the break-ins are believed to have happened between noon and 3 p.m., according to RCMP.

Cpl. Pritchard said the investigation so far has revealed some clues, including some forensic evidence, which is still being processed. At least one person of interest has been identified, said Cpl. Pritchard. The incidents on Sept. 5 were attended by not only Deer Lake RCMP, but also members of the RNC Corner Brook, dog services and RCMP identification services in Corner Brook.

"We have a suspect who's presently not in the area, so we are continuing our investigation to determine this person's whereabouts," Cpl. Pritchard said earlier this week.

According to Cpl. Pritchard, the town has not seen many crimes like this in recent memory.

"It's not something that normally comes to this area, that type of crime," he said.
Gus Adams, president of the Deer Lake Crime Prevention Association, said the break-ins have prompted his group to try to re-instill life into the local neighbourhood watch program.

"That's why we did it, yes," said Adams, acknowledging the impact of the crimes. "It's time to make a move on it now."

According to Adams, Deer Lake has had a neighbourhood watch for four to five years, but the program had fallen to the wayside in recent months as the crime prevention committee focused on other concerns.

"I guess we've been a little bit relaxed," said Adams, pointing out that neighbourhood watch is really an extension of the type of reporting that should already be happening.
Adams says the program has a simple set-up.

"It could be four or five streets and they have a captain," Adams said. "The captain would keep a log of all the reports and the neighbours could call the captain who also reported problems to the RCMP."

In recent months, the focus of the crime prevention group has been away from crime reporting and on other projects.

"We go to the schools and do powerpoint presentations every year," said Adams. "I do drug enforcement with the schools. We do Halloween patrols and Internet safety. We do it all."

Adams said the recent break-ins, as well as other reports of suspicious activity, were a cry for help, however. He said he doesn't know why more people didn't send in reports of the crimes while they were occurring, seeing as they happened in the middle of the day.

"Maybe they couldn't see anything," said Adams who noted that sometimes points of entry are not visible from the street or other homes. He did, however, emphasize what he described as the particularly "brazen" acts committed during the recent break-ins.
"In one (the person) went right through the front window."

According to Adams, even with law enforcement in the area, the vigilance of individuals - of private citizens - is the best defence against crime, whether associated with the neighbourhood watch or not.

Cpl. Pritchard agrees.

"If it gives you pause for thought in any way, I suggest you pick up the phone," said Cpl. Pritchard. "We're glad to come."

Anyone in Deer Lake looking to join the local neighbourhood watch or to report suspicious activity is asked to contact the Deer Lake Crime Prevention Association through its website at http://gusadams.tripod.com/crime. Although some of the pages have not been recently updated, the contact names and information are still valid. Interested parties can also call Adams directly at 635-3358.

In addition, the RCMP in Deer Lake can be contacted anytime by calling 635-2173. There is also a provincewide emergency number where incidents can be reported at 1-800-709-7267.

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