Thefts, vandalism continue throughout community

Annie Santos stands with her recently recovered 2004 Volkswagen Jetta. The vehicle was stolen last month while parked at a Meadow Lake grocery store.

Annie Santos stands with her recently recovered 2004 Volkswagen Jetta. The vehicle was stolen last month while parked at a Meadow Lake grocery store.

by Phil Ambroziak

“It was so unreal.”

That’s how Meadow Lake resident Annie Santos felt when she exited the grocery store Feb. 20 only to realize her car had been stolen during the short time she’d been inside.

“I just don’t get it – I don’t know what would make a person want to do something like this,” Santos said.

The 2004 Volkswagen Jetta was stolen from the Meadow Lake Co-op Food Store parking lot around 6 p.m. Santos, who immediately contacted police and store management, said she left the car running while she went inside for a few minutes. She insists, however, the doors were locked.

“It was Friday, so I decided to grab a few things for the weekend,” she said. “Because it was cold and my car had been parked at work for a good eight hours or so, I left it running. I knew I was only going to be in and out.”

When she left the store, Santos immediately knew something was amiss.

“At first, I thought I’d forgotten where I parked, but not for long because it isn’t really a very big parking lot,” she noted.

Santos returned to the store and called a friend for help while workers contacted Co-op’s food manager to attend the scene to review security footage. The RCMP were also contacted.

“I didn’t think whoever took it could get very far because I only had a quarter-tank of fuel,” Santos added.

Although she was uncertain as to exactly what the store’s security cameras picked up, she did turn to social media to get the word out about her predicament. Meanwhile, the police began their investigation and, a little more than 12 hours later, the vehicle was found with they keys inside, parked behind the Meadow Lake Library.

“The police contacted me Saturday around 10:30 a.m.,” Santos said.

The vehicle was slightly damaged where the suspect pried at the driver’s door to gain entry. Meanwhile, Santos said if there’s one lesson she’s learned as a result of the theft it’s anything can be stolen at any time. But, she also won’t let the actions of criminals intimidate her.

“This won’t keep me from leaving my car running on really cold days,” she said. “It’s not illegal for me to leave my car running. But, for someone to steal it – that’s the crime.”

However, it’s not the only vehicle-related crime to take place in Meadow Lake recently. According to the RCMP there have been several reports filed with regard to both vandalism and thefts from vehicles.

“We’ve had some car shoppers going around again looking for things they can steal out of vehicles – it stopped for a while, but now it seems it’s started again,” remarked Meadow Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Rod Ens.

Ens went on to say the police are following up on these incidents, as well as several involving broken windows on vehicles. Numerous social media posts within the last week or more noted several instances where vehicles had windows shot out by someone brandishing a pellet gun. Even city councillor Conrad Read said the driver’s side door of his truck was shot out late last month while the vehicle was parked in his driveway. He also said, the following day, a number of vehicles on his street were hit with eggs.

Ens wouldn’t confirm if a pellet gun was used to break the windows, suggesting many recent cases could have involved someone simply striking the window with a hammer or another object. In the meantime, he reminds the public not to keep valuables in their vehicles.

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