Residents of a small community in B.C.’s Cariboo region say they’re “on edge” after a string of thefts has plagued the area.
Residents of McLeese Lake gathered outside the Williams Lake courthouse, Wednesday, where Patrick Ryan Power was set to appear.
Power, also a resident of McLeese Lake, was facing multiple charges including break and enter, possession of stolen property and breach of undertaking.
“We have people, families, women, children, everyone is scared. Everybody is scared to leave because when they come home their stuff is missing,” said Dan Harrison, one of the rally organizers.
While Harrison said the RCMP were quick to respond to their complaints, he complained that the failure was in the court system.
“I don’t want this offender back in our community. I want our community safe,” Harrison said of Power.
Power was later found guilty of two counts of possession of stolen property. He was given 18 months probation and a $100 fine.
Local authorities and politicians said the sentence sends the wrong message to residents desperate for action.
“The RCMP do their job and of course they go to the court system and get a slap on the wrist and then they’re gone,” said Donna Barnett, the BC Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.
After the ruling, a representative from the Cariboo Regional District encouraged residents to write directly to B.C. Attorney-General David Eby.
“The issue is the judges and their decisions that impact on our rural communities,” said Steve Forseth, Cariboo Regional District Director of Area “D.”
Residents are worried that unless the justice system properly penalizes prolific offenders, some may be tempted to take matters in their own hands.
“That’s how frustrated we are. We’re at our limit. We’re on edge,” said Harrison.