Not long ago, robberies and home break-ins were thought by some to only occur in urban centres like St. John’s. Now in recent years, crime has become an increasing concern in rural areas of the island.
River of Ponds residents Daisy and Francis Mahar have had a rough history with break-ins and stolen property.
Their home and shop have been broken into and vandalised, with thefts of guns, fishing gear, and equipment for their campground.
They’ve installed cameras and security systems in hopes of preventing future crime. But in the past three years alone, the couple has seen a bullet put through their shop window, as well the window smashed and doorknob knocked off its entrance door.
Daisy Mahar says these crimes are particularly tough in a small region like River of Ponds, where the close-knit nature of the community can cause rumours and broken trust.
“All of these things happened when we were closed up, when we were away,” said Mahar. “You’re in a small community, where everybody knows everybody’s business, they know when you’re gone and when you’re home.”
Word travels fast in small towns, but Mahar says people often keep their mouths pretty tight and don’t want to get involved, so the culprits in the break-ins on her property have mostly gone unsolved.
Phil Duffenais, who works with Liberty Security, has been in the Northern Peninsula area for the past few weeks. While travelling across the various outports and towns of the peninsula, he was shocked to see how many people were interested in home security.
In the past six weeks, he’s installed security systems in over 300 places in the region, and expects to do around 600 homes and businesses by the time he completes his work. Now in St. Anthony, he’s already been kept very busy. He says of the first 12 homes he visited in town, eight decided to take up the offer on his company’s services.
With the stereotype of unlocked doors thought to be a common trait of rural Newfoundland, he was surprised by his success. As well, he was surprised the number of break-ins he’s heard about through his travels.
Earlier this year the Flower’s Cove pharmacy was broken into with over 5,000 pills stolen. The suspect broke into the property by cutting a hole in a rear wall. While business robberies like this get attention in the media, word of many home break-ins never reaches further then town gossip.
“It’s an awful feeling to think of people going through your house and everything you’ve got,” said Mahar. “You don’t feel so safe anymore.”