Surge in property crime prompts residents to form block watch groups in East Sooke


WATCH: A sudden surge in property crimes in East Sooke has people fighting back with the help of a newly appointed RCMP liaison officer. Residents are joining together to form eight different neighbourhood watch groups. Luisa Alvarez reports.

There has been a recent surge in property crimes in East Sooke.

Sgt. Jeff McArthur with Sooke RCMP says the increase has mostly been in the last several months.

“Mainly thefts from peoples yards, thefts from vehicles, break-ins to vehicles basically and some of them of significant value,” said McArthur.

East Sooke resident Keith Coulter says he’s known of several people affected by the property crimes.

“I had a friend that lost a brand new Volkswagen out of her yard and they also took her truck and broke into her shop and used her truck to clean her out,” said Coulter.

After a community hall meeting of concerned residents last Friday, a new community liaison officer was assigned to the area and eight new block watch groups were formed.

“Police can’t be everywhere all at once so it’s almost our duty to keep an eye out for each other,” said Coulter.

McArthur says block watch groups can be very effective in these kinds of situations.

“Most of them are addicts so if they are getting confronted by the police or they see people looking at them suspiciously, they know there is a sense of community where they are just going to move somewhere else and that’s what we are trying to do with our community here,” said McArthur.

And the tight-knit community is really keeping watch.

“You can’t really sit on the side of the road without anybody wondering who are you what are you doing here and even me seeing people walking down that are unfamiliar because this is a dead end street I’ll ask ‘who are you where do you belong,'” said East Sooke resident Phillip Day.

But on top of it, all residents are also ramping up security putting chains on their gates, along with motion detecting lights and installing surveillance cameras.

Coulter says his house hasn’t been hit yet but if it does, he’s ready.

“If someone does come in the middle of the night and cleans us out, we should have a good picture of them,” said Coulter.

Meanwhile, police say they’ve also made progress on their end putting two former residents in custody.

“They were multi-jurisdictional but we believe strongly that they were part of driving the property crime in East Sooke,” said McArthur.

McArthur also adds that they are keeping a close eye on a few others.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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