When thieves come calling …

Take the keys out of all vehicles and install surveillance cameras, advises RCMP

Kirk DeSchryver knows what not to do if thieves enter his farm again.

“In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t get out there as involved as I was,” said the farmer from Denzil, Sask.

“There are a thousand things you think in hindsight what you might have done. I’m not sure what the right thing is.”

DeSchryver and his wife had just gone to bed one night in November around 10 when they heard the sound of vehicles in their farmyard.

At first they thought friends had stopped by but soon discovered three trucks had backed up to their Quonset and the lights were on inside.

An all-terrain vehicle was already running and thieves were in the process of stealing other things from the implement shop.

DeSchryver yelled at the perpetrators as he pulled on his work boots and then ran toward the trucks and five thieves, who he said were scrambling to get out of the yard.

The first truck hit DeSchryver as it stormed out of the driveway. The impact spun him around and knocked him down.

The second truck wildly drove straight for him, driving over one of his feet.

His wife was outside by this point and trying to help him up as the third truck came straight for them at a high speed. He said it swerved away at the last second. The shocked couple was able to call 911.

DeSchryver said it was a stroke of luck he was wearing his steel toe and shank work boots.

“If I had just had runners on, it would have probably been a different story,” he said.

A recent police report urges the public to not make any attempts to confront or stop thieves and risk harm to themselves. The report directs owners to call 911 immediately and try to gather as much detail as possible on vehicle and suspect descriptions and their direction of travel.

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“It’s just a dangerous thing to confront people who are in the act of trying to steal from you,” said sgt. Carl Dinsdale of the Battleford RCMP rural detachment in Saskatchewan.

“That may go against some base instincts of a lot of people, but we would hate to see tragedy result in someone confronting someone who is trying to steal their property.… Life or their health is certainly not worth it.”

Sgt. Grant Rusk of the RCMP de-tachment in Unity, Sask., said four vehicles were stolen from three locations on that particular night, which involved numerous young offenders as well as adults. They were not from the local community, he added.

“A fifth vehicle was ran dry of gas and then shot using a stolen rifle from another vehicle,” he said.

Dinsdale said it’s not uncommon for people in rural areas to have a (legal) firearm in their vehicle at this time of year.

“We had a couple of occasions where vehicles have been stolen with these firearms in them, and now we have that concern,” he said.

“The risk and danger that creates is a big concern for us.”

He said a string of vehicle thefts has targeted rural properties, including farmyards. Thefts mainly involve pick-up trucks, many of which are new three-quarter and one-ton trucks, including diesel and four by fours.

Dinsdale said in his report that vehicles worth more than $2 million have been stolen in the Battlefords, Biggar, Unity, Cut Knife, Maidstone, Rosetown, Rosthern and Warman detachment areas in almost three years.

The Battlefords rural RCMP de-tachment has had 385 complaints of stolen vehicles, trailers, ATVs and snowmobiles since January 2012. Police have recovered 291 vehicles since then, although not all the property was originally stolen from the area.

“They are going across the Sask-atchewan-Alberta border. Based on our recoveries, we know they’re stealing vehicles in Alberta as well,” he said.

“The suspects are from different widespread areas that all seem to be participating in a similar type of crime with a similar type of MO (modus operandi).

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“(They’re) travelling grid roads and rural properties. It’s dark and away from potential witnesses, for the most part.… They’re entering these properties looking for something they can get their hands on quick and leave. They could be doing dozens of these properties in a night.”

These kind of robberies spike during warmer months, but this time of year also presents many opportunities because vehicles are left running or with the keys in the ignition.

“Take your keys out of your vehicle. It’s as simple a message as I can tell anyone,” said Rusk.

“A person needs to target-harden everything they have. You need to make it harder to steal.”

The report also recommended installing motion detecting lights and alarms in yard sites and outbuildings as well as visual recording technology.

“The old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ well, that’s the truth, and if we can get more information via game cameras, trail cameras or video surveillance, that really helps out,” said Dinsdale.

Many of the stolen vehicles are being recovered on Crown land in various states of plunder: stripped of tires, suspension and drive trains.

“They’re tipped on their sides. Some are stripped just of their tires and some right down to the frame and body,” he said.

Dinsdale suspects the thieves are reselling these parts either through a centralized point for redistribution or individually or on internet sites such as Kijiji. Engines, transmissions and differentials could have significant value.

“If people are seeing these types of parts for sale or the too-good-to-be-true price on parts, it might twig something in them to say, ‘wait a minute, where did this part originate?’ ” he said.

“If they suspect that someone is selling stolen vehicle parts, then they can call their local detachment directly, or if they want to remain anonymous, they can notify crime stoppers to report suspicious sales or activities.”

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  • ihatethieves

    “That may go against some base instincts of a lot of people, but we would hate to see tragedy result in someone confronting someone who is trying to steal their property.… Life or their health is certainly not worth it.”

    So we are supposed to be sheeple and let thieves take whatever they want? Call 911 and hope that within the next hour or two the rcmp show up?
    Maybe thieves need to realize that THEIR life may not be worth it. I think that would be a better deterrent for them. Give us laws that allow us to shoot criminals that are stealing and maybe they would think twice about even setting foot on someone else’s property.

  • Steph

    Seems if those thieves were afraid of being shot by a farmer, they’d be less likely to be so brazen.

  • Buffalo Bill

    I live in a rural area in Colorado, USA. I have a Tee shirt with “IF YOU KNOW HOW MANY GUNS YOU HAVE, YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH” written on it. (I don’t know how many I have—takes too long to count) But I do know I have left the keys in my truck for 30 + years, day and night, and while gone on vacation, as have all my neighbors, and I have carried a concealed (or not concealed) hand gun much of the time, as have many of my neighbors, and I have NEVER had a thief try to steal my truck or equipment. I love you canucks (thanks again for helping our embassy guys when the Iranians stormed our embassy) but you guys need to get some balls in this area.

    • puskwakau

      … Here in Canada, where civilization and the rule of law reign supreme, we let our courts and law enforcement deal with such things as petty thieves. We don’t become murderers to try and prove we have ‘a pair’.

      • joe blow

        lol this is a joke right?
        not sure which farm you are from but on my farm….. it would be easy to find the criminals cause they would be the ones with the holes in them

        • puskwakau

          Actually Joe, your guns with serial numbers filed off are likely to be the weapons seized when cops bust an organized criminal gang with their stolen goods

        • Harold

          What I think what puskwakau is saying is; here in Canada, we courageously give guns to our sons- the uncivilized police and uncivilized military- so that they may be shot dead in our stead. Our sons death is the meaning of civilized. Being civilized is allowing criminals safe passage in our watch while relying on the police in their watch. (How noble) We love a small police force. and the premiums associated. We allow the uncivilized police to shoot at the uncivilized criminals. Civilization is based on whether or not you are in possession a gun. What he didn’t say is that; freedom only belongs to those who have the courage to stand for it. I think you said that. Freedom does not belong to those proven to use a firearm unjustly.

        • John Fefchak

          “Too old to fight, too slow to run but I can still shoot pretty darn good!”

          Probably not a good solution to consider. But it is an indication that Canada’s arcane and ‘contradictory’ self-defense laws need to be changed to the benefit
          of those who are being violated by crime activities,rather than being charged by police, when defending their home, property and family from unwelcome intruders.
          The Prime ministers office,(during Harper’s time) said it intends to re-introduce legislation to re-define self-defence,
          since the criminal code was written in 1892.
          Otherwise and until appropriate changes are legislated, the only other solution might be; is to put all your valuables out on the driveway, for the taking, if you intend to be away from
          your home for a period of time.
          At least, then, you won’t be charged by the police, your home might be saved from being trashed and crown prosecutors will not be able to allege that you didn’t meet the definition of citizen’s arrest or that you were too aggressive and exceeded your dominance in home protection.

  • Dwight St. John

    Canadian thieves know that the RCMP and the courts here look upon theft as a low priority. In places like the USA (and Arabia) theft is considered just below rape and murder in the order of things. We have Brit law here; it’s ancient but never caught on to theft as a priority. Time at least for game cams and making it difficult to enter or exit without being caught. No real excuse for all the tech available out there today.

  • Bill Warren

    Seems like these thieves were willing to risk committing felony murder by car to escape. Since ,as far as I know,Canada has always frowned on vigilantism ,and left law enforcement in the hands of the Crown why not have helicopter patrols of rural areas and require manufacturers to have identification numbers on all major parts of vehicles and equipment. Bill Warren Pontiac,Illinois USA