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Gander break and enter victim speaks out

Gander resident Heber Bowering was the victim of break and enter earlier this year that caused more than $13,000 in damages to his property. Standing next to one of three doors that had to be replaced, he is calling on the RCMP and area politicians to bring about a stronger police presence.
Gander resident Heber Bowering was the victim of break and enter earlier this year that caused more than $13,000 in damages to his property. Standing next to one of three doors that had to be replaced, he is calling on the RCMP and area politicians to bring about a stronger police presence. - Adam Randell

Calling on RCMP and politicians to advocate 24-hour policing and stronger police presence

GANDER, N.L. –  Heber Bowering stands next to one of three doors to be replaced at his home after it was broken into earlier this year.

The criminal(s) used a wrecking bar on three of the home’s entrance points, causing $13,690 in damages, and made away with approximately $2,000 worth of the family’s belongings.

He was out of town at the time of the break and enter, which was discovered Feb. 1 by a family member looking after the property.

As of May 9, the case remains unsolved.

The Gander resident no longer feels safe in his home. He says he hasn’t felt safe since a rash of break and enters occurred in the central Newfoundland community back in 2015 – which saw 39 incidents. In 2016, there were 15, and 2017 saw 23 reported break and enters.

“The problem is the lack of 24-hour policing,” Bowering said. “I feel if we have policing throughout the nighttime it will act as a deterrent.”

Bowering understands the Gander RCMP detachment has limited resources to work with, but feels staggered shifts could be a solution to offering around-the-clock coverage.

“My biggest fear is this is going to continue and one of these days (criminals) are going to be confronted and somebody is going to be hurt,” he said.

He has also written area politicians on the federal, provincial and municipal levels about increasing Gander’s police force.

But the response has been limited.

“We need politicians to put pressure on government for more police resources,” he said. “But I feel it’s not being taken serious by town officials and our elected members.”

Bowering decided to go public with his story in the hope of bringing awareness to the ongoing criminal activity and the need for change.

According to the RCMP’s quarterly statistics, Bowering’s home was one of 13 break and enters reported between January and the end of March. Four of those reports were unfounded, nine were confirmed.

Of those nine, one has resulted in charges being laid. The remaining eight were closed, unsolved or remain under investigation.

“A break and enter investigation is one of the most complex investigations an officer will do,” said Staff Sargent Roger Flynn.

“And without two of the main things – a main witness and forensic evidence – it’s extremely difficult,” he said.

With 12 officers, including Flynn, the detachment doesn’t have enough staff to offer around-the-clock enforcement.

“The biggest volume of calls is between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., I need to have officers to be able to respond then,” he said. “Looking at the night shift, we have to be mindful of officer safety – one officer working by their self – at our current resource level that’s what I would end up with.

“It’s been explored, but it just wasn’t feasible for Gander.”

Adding more officers to the Gander force isn’t something Flynn can do either.

“I’ve provided input in the past… but that is an executive-level and provincial-level (decision),” he said. “We have a provincial policing contract, so the Department of Justice and divisional management work that out, in terms of the resources each detachment gets.”

But it doesn’t mean the RCMP is ignoring the issue, he said.

Without going into detail, Flynn said the detachment is working on an intelligence strategy, and, it is also developing a prevention approach within its region.

“We are suggesting being a little more proactive,” he said. “One objective this year is to provide more public awareness sessions for home owners, to nip it in the bud before it starts.

“Not that we are forgetting about the enforcement part of it, because it will always be there, but we think the best bang for our buck is going to be a prevention strategy.”

Town of Gander officials weren’t available to comment about whether it is addressing crime prevention before deadline.

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