A break and enter has turned what was once an idyllic family summer getaway in the Shuswap into a source of stress and concern.
Calgary resident Kathy Fink said she returned to Shuswap Lake last weekend to open her secluded, boat-access-only cabin for the season, only to find the cabin’s door kicked in and numerous items stolen. The same had occurred at two neighbouring cabins.
“Everything was ransacked and a lot of equipment and stuff was stolen,” said Fink, noting thieves had taken a wide variety of items left at her cabin, including a 14-foot aluminum Crestliner boat, a 6.5HP Evinrude boat motor, a Snap-On winch, a pedal boat, fishing rods, tools, remote controls and even a bear skin rug that had been on one of the cabin’s walls.
Fink says she and her husband reported the break in to Salmon Arm RCMP, expecting the police might want to visit the cabins and check for fingerprints. Instead, she says a member gave them a case number and told them to call their insurance company.
“Well, you can’t get content insurance on some place unless you’re there every two months…,” said Fink. “I’d have been happy if they had come out and done some fingerprinting. It upset me that these people were actually going to make themselves a meal. They took the pot out, they had a pot full of water, a box of Kraft dinner on the counter. But they couldn’t figure out how to turn the gas stove on. I’m sure there was fingerprints. They’re not going to be cooking food in gloves.”
Fink is uncertain when the break in occurred, acknowledging it could have been anytime since last August. However, she suspects it was recent, explaining items were piled in ways and places that made it look as though the thieves were expecting to return.
Fink said this wasn’t the first time items had been stolen from the cabin, though it was the first time the door had been kicked in. Now she’s apprehensive about spending another summer there with her grandkids and is even considering selling.
“Now we have to replace thousands of dollars worth of equipment, for what? So someone can come out to our place and steal it again?” said Fink. “Obviously, you can’t leave anything in your cabins anymore… So at the end of the year, you’ve got to haul all of that back to Alberta. That’s crazy.”
That, however, is exactly what Salmon Arm RCMP Staff Sgt. Scott West says needs to be done. He says that by doing so, the incentives to break in or return are removed. West says this applies to anything that may be of value to potential thieves that might be considered not as valuable by their owners.
“It’s those items that you value but you choose to leave behind that they target…,” said West. “Our major hope is we have serial numbers so we can try and track those items down.”
West acknowledged reports of thefts and/or break-ins involving the Shuswap’s seasonal-use cabins are not uncommon.
“With the cabins on the lake, we do see them. We see a few of them in the spring every year, and usually it’s places that are inaccessible by vehicle,” said West.
Regarding Fink’s issue with police not visiting the cabins in their investigation, West explained there are numerous variables that are considered in determining what is the best use of policing resources.
“Every case is different and every set of circumstances is different,” said West. “And I’m not saying that we would not get evidence, but we have to be responsible about how we use our resources well.
“And I’m not saying sending anybody out there wouldn’t be responsible. I guess I’ve just talked in a circle. But that’s what we go on is we go on our judgement and whether or not we expect to see any results from a particular circumstance.”
West empathized with Fink, saying, “The lake gets used more and more and criminals become more mobile and potentially more organized.”