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.
“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).
“(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.”