Nfld. & Labrador

Cottrell's Cove residents start petition to kick alleged thief out of town

Some residents of Cottrell's Cove say a homeowner is committing property crimes in the town and want him out of the community.

Residents blame neighbour for rash of break-and-enters

Cottrell's Cove is a small town north of Botwood, with only about 120 permanent residents. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Residents of a small town in central Newfoundland are demanding that one of their neighbours leave, and organizers are planning a petition for later this spring to reinforce their demand.

A string of break-and-enters in the town over the past three years coincides with the arrival of the man, who most residents of Cottrell's Cove believe is the perpetrator.

"Cabin owners and homeowners have come to our door and said we have to do something," said Fran Boone, a member of the local service district committee. 

She said some property owners have proposed organizing a petition, and the Local service district is allowing the organizers to use the local fire hall. 

The small town of less than 150 permanent residents has experienced more than two dozen break-ins over the past three years. 

Cottrell's Cove resident Fran Boone is a member of the local service district committee. (Garrett Barry/CBC photo)

The nearest police station is in Grand Falls-Windsor, about 1½ hours away.

Boone said while the RCMP are doing their job and have investigated the offences, the residents feel the justice system is not following through.

"They can charge him and when it goes to court he just walks away with it," Boone said. "The justice system is failing us. He was in court the last year or so. He has been out and going back and forth. But he broke into four more places since he's been going back and forth to court."

He is no longer welcome at my home. He's not my friend no more.- William Smith, frustrated resident

William Smith is a member of the local service district committee that runs the community, and is also supporting the petition. 

He said while there is no guarantee that a petition can force the man to leave the community, they are willing to try anything. 

"We don't know but we're going to try anyway to see what happens," Smith said. "I mean at least we're going to try and get him out of town if we can."

William Smith of Cottrell's Cove says people there feel they have no other choice but to arrange a petition asking for a neighbour to move out of town. (Garrett Barry/CBC photo)

He and many other residents in Cottrell's Cove are at their wits end with the man. 

"He is no longer welcome at my home. He's not my friend no more. Everybody has had enough of it," Smith said. "I just don't know what to do with the guy anymore."

Boone said the man blames alcohol for his desire to commit the break-ins. 

"He did tell one person here that he breaks in only when he's feeling good — when he's drinking a few drinks."

Some residents of Cottrell's Cove are hoping surveillance cameras thwart a local resident from breaking into their homes. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

She said the petition will be available for signatures starting May 23 of this year, since many cabin owners return to their properties after that date. 

The RCMP did not comment on the petition, but in a statement to the CBC, did acknowledge they are investigating multiple break-ins in Cottrell's Cove, two of which have occurred since the start of January.  

"Charges can only be laid when there is evidence supporting them," the statement reads. "The investigations are ongoing."

Police urge anyone with information on the crimes to contact the Grand Falls-Windsor RCMP.

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David Newell

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David Newell produces CBC Newfoundland Morning from Gander.

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