A Kersley resident created a new crime watch group on Aug. 18 for residents of the area to notify their neighbours of suspicious activity in real time.
To date, the Facebook group, created by Jo-Anne Rea, has attracted more than 60 members. Posts have ranged from general home security tips to information about the suspected casing of homes, including posts that have been shared from the existing Quesnel Hydraulic Road Facebook group.
Rea told the Quesnel Cariboo Observer that she decided to create the group because she has been robbed five times in the last two years, including two thefts of meat from her deep freezer, which she has since secured inside of a six-and-a-half-foot locked fence, as well as the theft of gas, which led her to install a security camera for her driveway.
“I just felt by creating something that is more interactive for our local area that we can have eyes out quicker,” Rea said, adding that it is not a vigilante group.
Rea said crime in Kersley is “certainly not as bad as what’s down in Quesnel,” but many of her neighbours have been victims of crime, such as having windows smashed and wallets grabbed, and “it is definitely filtering out [that] way.”
She moved to Kersley about five years ago from Vancouver Island and said local crime seems to have increased significantly in the last couple of years.
“The first couple of years, there were no problems at all,” she said. “It’s really, really been these last two, two and a half years, that it’s a significant increase for sure.”
According to Statistics Canada data for rural Quesnel, which includes Kersley, the number of Criminal Code violations in 2018, excluding traffic violations, actually decreased. Last year, the number of violations was 618, a decrease of 2.61 per cent, compared to the 630 violations in 2017.
Of the violations in 2018, 136 were unfounded, meaning police investigation determined the offence reported did not occur, nor was it attempted.
Still, the number of violations in 2018 was higher than it was five years ago. In 2014, there were 584 Criminal Code violations in rural Quesnel, excluding traffic violations.
According to Statistics Canada data for municipal Quesnel, which encompasses the city, Criminal Code violations in 2018, excluding traffic violations, increased significantly. Last year, the number of violations was 2,438, an increase of 25.8 per cent compared to the 1,936 violations in 2017. Of the violations in 2018, only 375 were unfounded.
In addition to using the Facebook group, Rea said some members are also downloading a free app called Lightcatch, which has been compared to a modern-day neighbourhood watch.
“Basically, if you notice something is going on or you see somebody breaking into a home, you can actually pin[point] it … and you enter in what’s going on,” Rea said of the free app, which was developed by an entrepreneur in Grande Prairie, Alta.
The Quesnel RCMP Detachment Commander, Staff Sgt. Andrew Burton, said he was unaware of the app and, therefore, unable to comment.
Rea said she plans to promote the Kersley Crime Watch group at the next Kersley community meeting, which she expects will take place at the community hall sometime next month.