Portage la Prairie, Man., farmers frustrated with rural crime

Tricia and Darren MacDonald say their farm near Portage la Prairie has been hit by criminals 17 times in a two year span. Marney Blunt / Global News

A couple who farm near Portage la Prairie, Man., is speaking out after their property was hit by criminals 17 times in a two-year period.

Tricia and Darren MacDonald say they’ve experienced numerous break-ins and thefts over the years.

“They broke in a couple of times and did quite a bit of damage to campers, some classic cars,” Darren told Global News.

“We had three motorcycles stolen in one episode and some lawn care equipment, and then every other time it was just whatever was handy. We had some goose decoys taken, some bicycles… Just everything that’s tough to deal with from an insurance perspective.”

The thefts have left the couple feeling on edge.

“I would always stand at the front door with binoculars with the door open just to hear if there was a gunshot,” Tricia said. “Darren was going down there all by himself (and) we didn’t know what he was walking in to.

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“It was very, very scary because you didn’t know if he was going to come home that night.”

Read more: Rural Manitoba struggling with increased need for security, theft prevention

The MacDonalds have spent thousands of dollars on installing alarm systems and security cameras on their property. They say they thefts have since calmed down.

“If people are thinking of entering your property and you kind of see the measures you take to protect it, they may move on elsewhere,” Manitoba RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Paul Manaigre said, adding that criminals will often move on if too much attention is being drawn to an area.

The MacDonalds said they’ve attended community town hall meetings with police, but never find a solution.

“It was frustrating to listen to because basically we’re told that there’s nothing we should be doing,” Tricia said. “Just to sit, barricade yourself into a room and wait for the police to get there.

“You can only hear that so many times when you’ve been broken into over and over again. Just to barricade and wait.”

They also say many of their neighbours have had similar

experiences, and its not just the Portage la Prairie area being impacted. Thieves recently broke into a business in Île-des-Chênes, Man., stealing five motorcycles in a brazen heist.

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Read more: Enterprising thieves steal motorcycles, trailer from Île-des-Chênes, Man., shop in overnight heist

“It doesn’t seem to matter whether the bikes are locked inside, in a storage facility (or) having a wheel lock on,” Adventure Power Products co-owner Derek Roth said.

The province is currently seeking public feedback on ways to curb rural crime in Manitoba through an online questionnaire.

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