September 01, 2021
BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — Trailer and equipment theft is nothing new to Grey County. Grey Bruce OPP and West Grey Police have responded to countless reports of these crimes over the years but during the COVID-19 pandemic, a rash of such theft has been observed. Often, these thefts occur on unoccupied properties but many times, crooks are brazen enough to attempt their thievery while residents are at home too.
In 2019, this Jayco 28' Double Axle Travel Trailer valued at $17,000 was taken from a property in Bentinck Township.
In 2020, this storage trailer was removed from a property in Varney by the occupants of a newer model black Ford F-150.
Historically, many Eugenia Lake residents have had their boats and trailers stolen but recent incidents have cottagers on high alert. "It seems apparent that whoever is doing this must live close enough to be 'casing the joint' to see desirable items and find out when no one is home," said Nancy Matthews, president of the Lake Eugenia Property Owners Association (LEPOA). Matthews cites an incident on Easter weekend, 2019 when two snowmobiles were snatched from a property at the lake.
Recently, during the week of August 3-13, a box trailer was removed from an uninhabited property. The trailer contained the owner's life-long collection of tools but were not home at the time.
Matthews related her own suspicious experiences, "on friday afternoon, our dog was on the porch barking at something. My husband looked out the window and saw a black pickup truck parked at the end of our driveway. The driver seemed to be checking out the boat trailer parked in our driveway. The truck was shiny and new, with jacked up tires and a trailer hitch. There was nothing obvious to be seen in the back of the truck, like a raised tool box or any equipment." As a precaution, her husband removed one of the tires, even though the trailer had a reputable hitch-lock. That afternoon, she sent a lake-wide email alert about the earlier theft and the suspicious black truck.
"At 9:05 that evening, our lights were on, we were watching TV — both obvious from the roadside, when our dog ran onto the porch barking. I followed and seeing a truck in the drive yelled, 'What the f... do you think you are doing?' The truck, which was dark but only silhouetted — so again, unidentifiable — took off headed north. A slight-build person wearing a red hoodie sprinted off to the south." While my husband called OPP, I activated an additional (email) alert about what had happened. OPP patrolled the road around 10 and reportedly saw lots of property owners out locking cars, securing trailers, etc."
Matthews continued, "The following morning a neighbour, aware of the situation, told me she had just seen a similar black truck between 10-11 am with raised tires driving slowly along the road. She identified it as a FORD 4x4 but did not stop it or enquire what it was doing, which many of us do on our private road." The black truck and suspicious activity by its occupants was allegedly seen again by other neighbours in the vicinity.
Matthews fears that thieves are surveilling lake properties to make a list of trailers and equipment they will return to steal in the fall. Empty trailers parked in cottages driveways in August will soon contain boats waiting for post-season servicing before they can go into winter storage.
The LEPOA hopes that anyone with criminal intentions will be deterred from carrying through with such activities now that Grey Bruce OPP has been informed and is on-the-lookout. The Eugenia Lake community is also a close-knit community and has demonstrated the ability to quickly communicate with each other and identify suspicious activity. Many residents have beefed up security and installed security cameras.
Cottage Life Magazine also has helpful advice for anyone wanting to keep their cottage and belongings safe:
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