It took a missing dog to make the headlines, but theft from Stawamus Chief Provincial Park’s parking lot has long been on police’s radar.
Last month a Bellingham, Wash., resident’s truck was stolen from the parking lot at the bottom of the Chief’s Apron. In it was his beloved chocolate lab Wyatt. The story and eventual return of the dog splashed through media around the country. Despite the happy ending, Squamish’s name was attached to the vehicle’s theft.
In the late 1990s, police looked at placing cameras at the known hot spot, Squamish RCMP Sgt. Wayne Pride said. It’s a pricey venture, he said, and at the end of the day it all comes down to funding.
“It’s all about ‘Can we find X amount of dollars?’” Pride said. “We are looking at the option for doing that.”
If cameras were granted approval, it isn’t something police would advertise. Just like the community’s bait car program, it works in officers favour to keep the operations under criminals’ radars, Pride said.
That said, Squamish’s bait car program is very active.
“We have used it with some frequency in this area,” Pride said.
RCMP are targeting the provincial parks’ parking lots with police patrols and plain clothed officers. All of the actions take an investment in resources and time, he said.
“We have to selectively choose the priorities for our resources,” Pride said, noting Squamish’s reputation with visitors sits high on the list.
BC Parks is working with RCMP to address the rash of thefts from vehicles, stated the Ministry of Environment in an email to The Chief. Officials are aware of the situation, the statement noted. Park rangers are conducting spot patrols and park facility operator staff are carrying out routine daily monitoring.
Signs warning visitors not to leave valuables in their vehicles are posted throughout the parking lots.
Squamish Community Police Office’s volunteer bike patrol regularly hits the area’s hot spots, said Kathryn Hennigar, the community policing co-ordinator. With 11 volunteers making up the team, pairs of two will visit the parks’ parking lots up to three times a week.
“Theses people have undergone some pretty intensive training,” she said.
The patrol is looking for more volunteers. For more information visit (604) 892-9213.