Heather Richardson will forever remember Revelstoke as the place where a lifetime of mementoes and all her personal possessions were stolen in the middle of the night.
She was moving from Kamloops to Alberta on Dec. 12 when a road closure on the Trans-Canada just east of Revelstoke forced her to stay the night.
When she met her travelling companions in the parking lot of the Super 8 motel the next morning, her Ford pickup and large car-hauling trailer were gone.
Everything she owned was inside the trailer. Electronics, furniture, heirlooms, family photos, jewellery and all the odds and ends you gather over a lifetime. “I lost absolutely everything,” she says. “All I had was the clothes I was wearing.”
The truck, trailer and its contents have not since been found.
Richardson is very upset about the theft and the RCMP response.
She’s been in contact with the RCMP constable who assisted her following the theft, but she’s concerned they don’t have enough info to track down her things. The RCMP wanted serial numbers, but they were stolen with the trailer.
There weren’t any warning signs posted in the parking lots. She realizes now that thieves would assume her trailer was full of snowmobiles. RCMP do work with snowmobile groups and hotels on security initiatives, but Richardson says that didn’t help her.
Richardson feels more could have been done and more needs to be done.
She suggests more surveillance and following up more aggressively with the thefts. “Why isn’t there a bait truck out there?” she asks.
Revelstoke RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Rod Wiebe says the RCMP are frustrated with the ongoing rash of snowmobile and truck thefts. He says they’ve taken appropriate steps in this investigation. But ultimately, when something disappears in the night, police options are limited.
“There’s only so many avenues we can take,” he said. “It’s frustrating for us, frustrating for them, but ultimately that’s all we can do. It’s on our Canada-wide computer system and we just hope that it gets checked somewhere,” Wiebe said of the missing truck and trailer.
In Revelstoke, truck and snowmobile thefts in the night are ongoing.
The Times Review has already reported about four trucks and eight snowmobiles that had been stolen between Nov. 2010 and Jan. 2011.
More have gone missing since. On Feb. 11 a trailer with two sleds inside was stolen from the Glacier House Resort. The trailer was locked, but thieves cut through it. The same night, a 2002 Ford F-250 with a sled on the back was also stolen. That truck was locked and alarmed.
There have also been attempted thefts. In online snowmobiling discussion forums, snowmobilers talk of a jimmied door or a smashed steering column. They share their wishes to catch the thieves red-handed and mete out punishment.
The trucks haven’t been recovered — something Cpl. Wiebe says is a new trend. Before, they’d find the truck and trailer dumped somewhere, minus the snowmobiles.
Wiebe said RCMP believe the trucks and sleds are immediately removed from town and speculate an organized crime group based in the Okanagan are involved. Wiebe emphasizes that’s just speculation based on circumstances.
He said RCMP have done patrols of parking lots where the snowmobilers park their trucks, including hotels, motels and lots near snowmobile area trailheads. They also do patrols on snowmobile. They leave pamphlets informing visitors of security issues and encouraging security measures.
Beyond that, the police force runs into resource issues. Intensive surveillance operations just aren’t in the budget, Wiebe says. “The main message is, we’re like every other organization. Our resources are limited and we have to make priorities of what our members do. We’re really putting it back on the owners to make sure that you’ve done as much as you can to prevent your vehicle from being stolen,” he says, offering up suggestions beyond locks and chains, such as disabling truck engines by removing vital parts.
Wiebe also said Revelstoke RCMP were in talks with the Lower Mainland group that runs the bait car program. The successful and much-publicized program tempts thieves by leaving bait cars in theft hot spots. Once stolen, technology built into the cars guide police to an easy arrest by disabling the car, locking its doors and providing video of the theft.
Wiebe says it’s unlikely the program will be in place this snow season.
In the meantime, Richardson remains unsatisfied. She tells me she’s spreading the word to snowmobilers to avoid Revelstoke because of the theft issue. Her wants are simple and clear: “Find my trailer,” she said.
Do you have more information to add to this story? Contact Aaron Orlando at 250-837-4667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.