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RCMP Patrolling Highway 200 for Nails, Encourage Surveillance

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Nails Crop
Nails collected from the surface of Highway 200 last year. Susan Zimmerman

Residents of the RM of Ritchot continue to be plagued by incidents of nails on Highway 200, a.k.a. St. Mary’s Road.

The nails found so regular on the highway south of the Perimeter have caused thousands of dollars in damages to date from punctured irreparable tires and are an ongoing safety risk to motorists. Due in large part to the frequency of the incidents, residents suspect someone might be placing the nails on the road intentionally as an act of vandalism and have reached out to local authorities for help.

The Manitoba RCMP can confirm that they’ve received more phone calls this February, and they say that they are stepping up patrols in the area while requesting the public’s help to stop the criminal activity.

“We did receive another report in early February,” says Tara Seel, media relations officer for the Manitoba RCMP. “This has the potential to be a very dangerous act and we are interested in seeing this come to an end.”

Seel says that although the RCMP are increasing the number of patrol cars in the area, the challenge is being in the right place at the right time.

“Ultimately, we are always only getting there after the fact,” she says. “Our vehicles are patrolling in the area and we have increased our presence in that way, but the nails aren’t there all the time. Wo when we patrol, we are not finding the nails, so the result is we do receive the information after the fact. This is a very challenging type of crime because no one is directly seeing it happen.”

According to the RCMP, this type of vandalism has an increased possibility for injury, and that’s what makes it a serious issue. They are looking to hear from the community and team up in some way to help stop these acts. Solutions such as community or private surveillance cameras would not be discouraged and Seel has some tips for anyone with property in the area who may have a surveillance camera.

“Yes, we are very open to surveillance footage if anyone has any,” Seel says. “Basically, if you’re not broadcasting it, like it’s not being posted on Facebook or being made public, that’s going to be okay. It’s a public space and people’s expectation of privacy or right to privacy while in a public space is limited. And submitting a video to police is not considered broadcast. People should know that and know they wouldn’t be doing anything wrong. So if anyone has any footage, we would definitely be interested in it. But more so, if you hear someone talking about these events at length or someone has more knowledge about it than might seem usual, that might be an indication that they’re involved in some way and you could provide that information in a private tip to investigators. So please contact us.”

While the City of Winnipeg and the RM of Ritchot have both been involved in the clean-up of these incidents, solutions from local government have been slow to surface.

Mitch Duval, Ritchot’s CAO, had previously said that community surveillance cameras were “not out of the question” and the RM would be willing to talk to the RCMP about how and where to install community cameras.

“The municipality is continuing to investigate camera options, and may be putting some funds in this year’s budget to proceeding with one community,” says Duval on the question of potential surveillance cameras. “However, this will likely not help the nail situation, as this is [occurring] by the northern end of the municipality, not in the communities.”

Aside from cameras, another solution for residents would be to avoid driving on the specific stretch of highway that seems to be most often affected. But avoiding the area isn’t feasible for many locals who live in the area and need to commute into the south end of the city in a timely manner.

The RCMP continues to monitor the situation.

“It is certainly a public safety issue and it is something we’re taking very seriously, so our first priority is that, if anyone has any information, we’d like them to come forward,” says Seel. “And after that, keep your eyes peeled. Watch your speed. If you’re going slower, the impact and possible injury could be less if something should happen.”

The St. Pierre-Jolys RCMP detachment can be contacted at (204) 433-7908.

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