Youths charged after rash of vandalism

by Phil Ambroziak

RCMP and residents are hopeful a recent rash of crime and vandalism in Loon Lake has come to an end.

On the evening of Sept. 26, Loon Lake RCMP were able to apprehend five young people allegedly responsible for a week-long series of incidents throughout the community, including break-and-enters to both homes and vehicles.

“Yes, there has been a rash of break-ins, as well as vehicles parked in the village having their windows smashed,” confirmed Loon Lake RCMP Sgt. Shawn Carter. “We did manage to find five young people we believe are responsible. Four of them are under the age of 12 while the fifth was charged accordingly.”

Carter also said a sixth youth is believed to be involved, but police were still waiting to speak with his parents about the situation.

“We were able to track them down by talking to other kids and people in the community,” Carter said. “The more we talked with different people, the more names we would get. It just filtered down from there.”

According to police, the suspects who were spoken to have since admitted their involvment in the crimes.

While residents who’ve been victimized were unwilling to make an official statement to the press out of what has been described as a fear of being targeted further, there have been reports of at least 30 break-and-enters, 15 vehicle break-ins, feces left on doorsteps and houses vandalized. Carter confirmed most of this, stating the number of vehicles broken into was more like 25.

One incident still under investigation, however, dates back to Sept. 12 when RCMP received close to 30 complaints of break-and-enters at the Makwa Lake Resort. Both sheds and cabins were broken into.

“We’re very concerned about what’s been going on,” remarked Loon Lake mayor Larry Heon. “People have had their windows smashed on their cars and had them repaired, only to have them smashed again the next day.”

Heon went on to say he is pleased to know the RCMP have apprehended some suspects, but he is also disappointed to know young people from the community or the surrounding area were responsible.

“I hope now that school is back in session there may be enough extracurricular activities to keep kids busy,” he said. “I think this sort of thing mostly happens out of boredom, but everyone works hard for what they have.”

As for what repercussions the children could face, the officer said he has arranged a meeting with various bodies, including MLTC child and family services, to look at alternative ways of dealing with the issue.

“We could just forget about it because they are under the age of 12, but what does that really tell the kids?” he said. “We could also just talk to the parents, or we could go one step further and try to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen in the future.”

Heon said it is likely frustrating from a police point of view because of the ages of the people they are dealing with.

“For the most part, it seems all they can do is grin and bear it,” he said.

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