South Surrey farmers fed up with repeated incidents of crime on and around their properties are banding together in an effort to quell the concerning trend.
“We phone (police) all the time now, everybody’s on guard,” said one area resident, who asked to not be identified, citing safety concerns. “We all watch each others’ houses. We’re going to call in anything suspicious.”
The neighbourhood in question is farmland along 40 Avenue, between 160 and 168 Streets.
According to the resident, area homes have been broken into, stolen vehicles are being dumped and barns are being used for grow-ops and to stash stolen goods.
Sunday evening, she saw heavily armed police swarm a property in the 16400-block of 40 Avenue, and men who were ordered out of a barn on the property emerge with bags of items hanging around their necks and their hands up.
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann told Peace Arch News the police response was sparked by an anonymous report of a gun, which was determined unfounded. However, stolen items were seized from the property, he confirmed.
“The property appears to be frequented by many people, and so it’s not certain who brought the stolen items to the property or how long they’d been there,” Schumann said Tuesday.
“At this point, there’s no one in custody, no charges being contemplated.”
That outcome, the resident said, has been seen time and again over the past year, and is a point of frustration for the neighbourhood.
“It just goes on and on and nothing is ever done.”
Other activity noted by neighbours has included suspicious-looking individuals on bikes at all hours, appearing to be scouting out the properties; individuals “creeping” through, stopping under a stand of trees to change clothes, then walking down the road where a vehicle stops to pick them up.
“That happens all the time,” the resident said, noting officers she has spoken to have said they “have way worse things” to deal with.
“It’s just appalling, and we’re speechless.”
Schumann confirmed police triage calls and prioritize their response based on the information received. At the same time, he acknowledged it can be difficult to get charges approved in property-crime cases.
Confirming officers are also frustrated by the challenges, Schumann encouraged anyone spotting suspicious activity or a crime in progress to report it immediately.
“If it’s suspicious, don’t sit on it.”
The resident said police will be hearing more from her and her neighbours, and wants others to know how prevalent the issue has become.
“People should know,” she said. “(The perpetrators) just mock our whole system.”