Winnipeggers launch Facebook campaign in wake of smashed windows, vehicle break-ins

Residents in two Winnipeg neighbourhoods say vehicle break-ins have been happening far too often and for far too long, and they are demanding change.

Facebook campaign launched as car vandalism stretches into 2nd year

Residents in two Winnipeg neighbourhoods say vehicle break-ins have been happening far too often and for far too long, and they are demanding change.

"It's constant in our area," North Kildonan resident Kelly Golembiski told CBC's Marcy Markusa on Information Radio. 

Two of her family's vehicles were broken into recently and her son's snowboarding gear was stolen, only to later show up on Kijiiji. 

Golembiski said now the family has motion detectors outside. 

One night recently her husband was watching TV when the lights outside went on.

He spotted a young man standing in the driveway at 2 a.m. checking out Golembiski's car. 

"He looked out and there was about a 15-year-old kid standing at the door of my vehicle," she said. Golembiski said her husband at first followed the teen on foot, but then reconsidered and got in his vehicle instead.

He then watched the youth approach another vehicle, where a man sitting at the steering wheel waved the teen away. 

"The kid didn't run away," Golembiski said. "He just casually walked down the street."

She said her husband told police who were in the area but they were too busy to help. 

Golembiski said it isn't just a recent problem - vehicle break-ins in the neighbourhood have been going on for about a year and a half. 

Neighbours resigned to break-ins

"We've got one neighbour that doesn't even lock her door anymore because they would smash her window, take the change, take the cigarettes."  

It all sounds far too familiar to River Heights resident Andrew McCrea. 

"It's just rampant," he said. 

McCrea said he's had to shell out $400 in deductibles after the window on his vehicle was smashed - twice.

"I'm lucky that I've only been hit twice. I personally think it's, you know, two times more than it should be. But there's other people that have been hit like 10 times, eight times in this neigbhourhood and that's a really huge cost for anyone to bear," he said.

McCrea said the problem has been going on for a year, and while there has been some improvement since police launched Project Comet in May 2014 targetting the culprits, it has made little difference to the big picture. 

"It's pretty constant here in River Heights and each time we're getting hit there's like 20 plus vehicles that have their windows smashed."

Facebook campaign asks MPI for break on deductibles 

McCrea says River Heights residents are so fed up they have set up a Facebook page, called Smashed Window Club. 

"Really first and foremost, it's to have a unified voice," he said. "We're really collecting a lot of information and hearing a lot of stories, and that unified voice kind of gives us a chance to say that we do want better police resources in our neighbourhood."

McCrea admits it's a long shot, but weary residents want a break on deductibles the same way Manitoba Public Insurance handles, for instance, damage claims when a large number of people are hit during a hail storm.

"I know it's probably unlikely but we would like some kind of relief from MPI because $400 - what I was hit with in less than a month - $400 in that time period, I have to give up so much. It really hurts."

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