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Moncton neighbourhood in need for ‘critically important’ watch program following break-in, theft

Moncton community to create neighbourhood watch amid rise in crime
After a series of incidents, some members of Moncton's Old West End have decided to create a group to provide a watchful eye on their neighbourhood. Callum Smith explains.

There’s increased pressure for a neighbourhood watch program in a Moncton community following an alleged break-in.

Cathy Manuel, a resident of the city’s old west end, said she’s angry “someone violated my security,” after she allegedly someone broke into her home while she was sleeping.

“It wasn’t just a little noise and then quiet, there was a fair bit of noise,” said Manuel.

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Just after 5 a.m. Friday morning, Manuel made her way downstairs to see what was going on.

“Everything was open, drawers were open, pantry was open, door to the basement was open,” she said. “Also, the door to the backyard and to the garage was open.”

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Cathy Manuel says she awoke to noises that came from someone who broke into her home
Cathy Manuel says she awoke to noises that came from someone who broke into her home Callum Smith / Global News

She said she left the garage door open by mistake as she’s been in the midst of a landscaping project.

She found a man walking outside her home immediately afterwards, who denied that he was in her home.

“Not a lot was stolen from me,” she says. “It still feels like a violation of my person, of my property and very much an intrusion on my privacy.”

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But it was a neighbour who was able to spot the suspect and provide a description to RCMP.

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Residents said there’s been an increase in crime in that area of the city, which is part of the reason why they met to discuss implementing a neighbourhood watch only days before the break-in.

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“We’ve had some events taking place over the last, well 12-18 months, in that area, where it seems to be an uptake or an increase in brazen occurrences,” said Peter Ryan, a member of Moncton’s Old West End group. “Whether it’s tugging on unlocked doors and going through cash and change.”

Along with another community member, they already make foot patrols through the neighbourhood throughout the night, Ryan said.

Peter Ryan, a resident of Moncton’s old west end, says a neighbourhood watch program is needed due to an uptake in crime in the community
Peter Ryan, a resident of Moncton’s old west end, says a neighbourhood watch program is needed due to an uptake in crime in the community Callum Smith / Global News

“I have a light on me, the dog’s lit up, we’re just saying that if there is anybody out, we see you, and we’re not looking to approach, we’re not looking to say ‘do you belong in the neighbourhood?’ Ryan said.

“We’re just saying we know you are here, and Fred has experienced events where the people have turned to put their bikes with multiple backpacks on them, and they’ve left,” she added.

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Riverview has its own neighbourhood watch program, run by chair and town councillor Cecile Cassista along with captains and co-captains in the community.

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She said while some say an increased police presence is needed, officers can only do so much unless incidents are reported.

“It’s about engaging the community, getting to know your neighbours, getting to know what’s going on in your community and watching out for suspicious activity,” Cassista said.

“If you do notice suspicious activity, we do ask you to call the 911 if it’s urgent.”

Cecile Cassista, chair of Riverview’s Neighbourhood Watch program, says the program isn’t about policing their community, but communicating with each other and reporting crime to RCMP
Cecile Cassista, chair of Riverview’s Neighbourhood Watch program, says the program isn’t about policing their community, but communicating with each other and reporting crime to RCMP Callum Smith / Global News

But regardless, whether there’s an official neighbourhood watch program in Moncton’s old west end, there’s still a community looking after one another.

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“We have eyes on the neighbourhood and hopefully this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Manuel says.

Cassista says it’s “critically important to be involved in your community and to have a neighbourhood watch.”

“It sends a message that we are on the watch and we’re keeping an eye out,” she says.