Brookswood residents are increasingly upset, fearful, and angry about crime
Scott Thompson started the Brookswood Crime Watch Facebook page back in 2014, after he saw a yellow road sign at the corner of 40th Avenue and 200th Street in central Brookswood.
Instead of a warning about construction ahead, the message warned locals “Thieves at work in the area,” Thompson remembered.
He himself has been a victim of property crime, with his family’s cars broken into four times. The thieves typically go after small change.
“They rummage through the glovebox,” he said.
“We don’t keep anything in our cars anymore,” he added.
The feeling among residents is that over the past year, there has been an increase and an escalation in the types of property crimes, Thompson said.
Thieves are going into backyards, shoplifting from local stores, or committing their crimes in daylight, rather than at night, Thompson said. People are being accosted in public parks in incidents of aggressive panhandling that leave them shaken.
“Recently, they’ve been getting a lot more brazen,” he said. “It’s increased dramatically.”
Statistics from the Langley RCMP were not immediately available on levels of crime in Brookswood.
“The fear’s starting to slide away,” Thompson said. “You can definitely tell that fear is turning to anger.”
He’s seen threats and unfounded accusations cropping up on his Facebook group, which he’s had to take down.
The simmering anger may change following the high speed chase and collision that sent a 12-year-old boy to hospital in critical condition on Oct. 3.
Two men allegedly stole tools from a construction site in the 21100 block of 32nd Avenue. A man in a pickup gave chase. The Grade 7 Belmont Elementary student was struck near a bus stop across the street from the school on 40th Avenue.
He remains in hospital.
The tragedy will make locals wary of vigilantism, Thompson said.
He believes the leadership of Langley Township, starting with Mayor Jack Froese, needs to come together with the community to tackle the crime problem directly.
More visible police might be a start, he said.
“I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a cruiser just sitting,” he said.
Froese said issues with crime are taken seriously. He’s been a crime victim himself.
“I’ve had my car broken into and golf clubs taken out in South Langley,” Froese said.
He noted that Langley has never been crime free. In the early 1980s, Froese, a former Vancouver Police officer, was an RCMP Auxiliary in Langley.
“We were challenged with all the same issues,” he said.
He encouraged the use of Blockwatch programs and taking precautions like not leaving any valuables in cars.
“I really encourage people not to take the law into their own hands,” Froese said. “Call the police, call 911.”
Confronting criminals can lead to death or injury.
Froese said he has been and will speak more with the RCMP on their plans for the area.
Some concerns specific to the Brookswood area include empty homes. As development ramps up, some homes have been left vacant, and Thompson said squatters are a problem in some areas.
“When homes become derelict or become a danger, there’s steps that we can take,” Froese said. Residents should call the Township to report specific addresses, he said.