Crime in Plaster Rock out of control, mayor says
Alexis Fenner believes better policing in ciites partly to blame
The mayor of Plaster Rock says crime in her northern village is out of control, and she believes better policing in cities is partly to blame.
Alexis Fenner says poverty is behind what she calls an "epidemic," with crimes such as break-ins and vandalism so common many residents are no longer bothering to report incidents to police.
She says it can take as long as two hours for officers to respond to calls in her community. Meanwhile, "help in a city is five minutes away."
"The crime rate in the cities I'm told, and I've read also, is going down," she said. "The criminals are being pushed out of the cities into the rural areas and we're suffering the brunt of this and elderly people are living in fear."
Fenner says her village of 1,100 people simply can't afford more than the $193,000 they pay for basic RCMP coverage — but it isn't enough.
She says the situation is so bad, she sometimes goes out and patrols the streets herself.
"I've often gone out two, three o'clock in the morning but what can I do? I can maybe put the headlights of the vehicle on somebody that looks suspicious, but I have no ability to stop any goings on," Fenner told CBC News.
"I can call the police and that's all and I have to wait for them and by the time that the police arrive, the people are dissipated and I'm left alone out there and the people of the village are feeling alone."
'We need help'
Area resident Greg Comeau agrees. "As a business owner in the village I am deeply concerned," he said in a letter to CBC News.
He says some recent events in the village have included "a burned-down business. Some say arson.
"The department store in town had two people hide or unlock the back door before closing and then looted nearly $1,000 in merchandise after closing," Comeau said.
There have also been several break-ins, including one at The Lord's Pantry, a food bank at a local church. "The food, however, wasn't stolen, only destroyed and spread around," he said.
"The citizens are fed up," said Comeau. "We need help."
The mayor contends people have to receive stricter punishments for their crimes. She says people who are arrested are released quickly and are back on the streets a few hours later.
The community also needs more activities for young people, Fenner said.