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Vehicle Thefts on the Rise in Niverville

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The Duval family's destroyed Dodge Ram Kasia Duval

In recent months, there has been an increase in vehicle break-ins and thefts in the Town of Niverville. While most of the crimes started off minor in nature—for example, the theft of vehicle contents—the situation escalated when a number of vehicles were stolen. 

Kasia Duval and her young family live on Claremont Drive and were shocked to wake up on July 21 to find their 2013 Dodge Ram had been stolen from their driveway while they slept.

“Our truck had a muffler on it and our room is right over the garage in a cab-over. We would have heard it for sure,” Duval explains. “We’re pretty sure they must have put it in neutral and towed it away with another truck.” 

Duval admits that the doors to the truck were unlocked that night and an extra set of keys for the vehicle had been left in the glove box along with her passports and her daughter’s birth certificate. The family had been planning to visit the United States in the following days. 

That morning, another stolen truck had been left on the street in front of their house. According to Duval, RCMP checked the licence plate number and discovered it had been reported stolen from Selkirk. The Duvals’ Dodge Ram didn’t turn up for weeks, but when it did the story was unbelievable.

On August 10, the Duvals received a phone call from the Toronto Police Service stating that they had found their vehicle outside of Scarborough, Ontario. The three people who had stolen it, two males and one female, were known to police for engaging in organized crime, specifically breaking and entering, and were residents of Manitoba but not local. What police found in the truck was even more unsettling.

“They found 5 guns, including a loaded shotgun in the truck. And they found cocaine and crystal meth all over,” Duval says.

The truck was badly damaged and the seats covered in drug residue. The Duvals have New Vehicle Protection insurance and hope Manitoba Public Insurance will reimburse them rather than attempt to repair the vehicle. Drug residue can be absorbed through the skin, which is of major concern to Duval.

While this ordeal has been a big inconvenience for her family, the situation could have escalated quickly had they awoken that night.

“Most of the time you would assume it’s teenagers going for a joyride, but I wouldn’t recommend intervening. These guys had weapons in the vehicle and they really had nothing to lose,” Duval explains. “My husband could have tried to confront them and been shot.” 

Around 8:00 a.m. on July 21, Niverville’s Deputy Mayor, John Funk, had just arrived to the town office for a council meeting when his 1998 Ford F-150 was stolen from the town office parking lot.

“I’ve never had any reason to lock up my vehicle in Niverville, so it was something different for me. I’ve never had a vehicle stolen in all my life,” Funk says. “It just seems so strange that they would do it in broad daylight when someone was looking on from another parking lot.”

Funk’s vehicle was found in Winnipeg and was written off. He has not received any additional 
information about the incident.

According to Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck, the Town of Niverville has quarterly meetings with the staff sergeant of the St-Pierre-Jolys RCMP to discuss any crimes that have occurred in town. Mayor Dyck reminds citizens that simple habit changes can protect their vehicles from break-ins and thefts.

“We’ve reminded our citizens in past newsletters to make sure they keep their vehicles locked. Don’t leave your vehicles running and unattended,” Mayor Dyck says.

For over 20 years, Niverville was part of the Citizens on Patrol Program (C.O.P.P.) until it was disbanded last fall. C.O.P.P.’s mission is to mobilize citizens to participate in a community-based crime prevention initiative in cooperation with the local law enforcement agencies. The program has been in existence since 1991 and is currently guided by Manitoba Public Insurance and Manitoba Justice. 

George Dyck was a former member of C.O.P.P. in Niverville and was part of the program’s advisory committee.
“When we did have the C.O.P.P. program, Niverville was the example community,” Dyck says. “We had 50-plus volunteers, which no other community had.”

According to Dyck, there were a few reasons the program ended in Niverville.

“When I was on the executive, I always encouraged groups, if the leadership was going to move on, to groom their people so some-one could take over,” Dyck explains. “You also need strong support from council. If not all councillors and council administration believe in the program, then it’s hard to keep it going. Had the support 
from council been stronger, I believe it would have still been going.”

Dyck believes that a program like C.O.P.P. can help reduce crimes like vehicle break-ins and thefts.

“People know when no one is watching,” Dyck says. “When you become visible all the time people know ‘Oh, I’ve got to be careful because I’m being watched.’” 

If you have a crime to report in the Niverville area, please contact the St-Pierre-Jolys RCMP’s non-emergency phone number at 204-433-7908. 

The RCMP did not return our calls for comment.

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