Local RCMP are busy and getting busier. Each year, the detachment receives more and more calls. At the end of 2017, they had 235 files more than the same time last year.With the same number of officers now with more work, Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Kurt Grabinsky sat down with Reved to discuss ways to avoid being a victim of crime this busy winter season.
In Revelstoke, sled thieving is definitely a thing. On the upside, police here have managed to get the number of sleds stolen way down from a peak of 17 one season to just a few nowadays.
“We’re going to have more stolen this year, we know that, so we definitely want to keep the number down.”
Police use both a covert bait sled and overt tactics like pulling over suspicious vehicles at suspicious hours of the day.
“Say it’s 3 o’clock in the morning—why are you driving your truck with sleds? So, we run the VINs and 99 per cent of the time they’re happy because if it was their stuff that got stolen, it would be recovered quickly.”
Revelstoke gets a lot of traffic off the highway. “Some of those people come into town and take advantage of the good nature of people,” says Grabinsky. “Look at any carport and there’s usually a bicycle, a chainsaw and all kinds of gear. People will come in and grab it quickly.”
He describes patterns of bands of people binge-stealing “like crazy. “For three or four days someone is in town stealing … Sometimes we recover vehicles that are just all full of stuff.”
With snowboards and skis kicking around this winter, it seems we can’t be ‘doors-unlocked people’ anymore. “That time has changed. You really shouldn’t leave your keys in your truck or house,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that the world is a bad place, it just means that’s why we have locks, so use them.”
Police will sometimes spot a stolen vehicle from another community or province that’s been ditched here as the thief uses Revelstoke as a stepping point. “If you left, say, Calgary with a stolen vehicle, by the time you get to Revelstoke you might be out of gas, so it’s time to steal another one with a full tank,” he said. “Leaving your keys in your gas cap is not like the secret location no one has ever thought off.”
At date of publication (Dec 15), police are actively searching for two missing people and an airplane, and at the exact time of this interview (Dec 11), an overdue skier was lost and located. “People go missing in areas such as this,” says Grabinsky, listing Boulder and Frisby as frequent search areas.
Last winter, Revelstoke SAR had been called out for 17 straight nights, so Grabinsky went to the parking lot and held sledders at the gate who weren’t prepared to spend the night. He recommends everyone get proper avalanche and wilderness survival training. “You’ve got a $20,000 machine but you won’t spend $500 on some avalanche safety training?” He suggests everyone carry a beacon, probe, shovel, radio, map and way to start a fire.
In the fall, RCMP released a warning about sex assaults in and around the Greenbelt. The report was intentionally vague because, “sex assaults are a very personal attack. It’s very invasive,” said Grabinsky. With no description of a suspect, police relied instead on similarities to link the attacks. Statistically, he says, 90 per cent of people don’t report sexual assault, or if they do, they report it to the hospital and not the police. “We see in the #MeToo movement that this is very prevalent.” His advice is to stay in groups and carry a whistle or some form of self-defence. “On the other side, men have to stop doing this. It’s ridiculous.”
In 2017, more than one thousand people in B.C. died of a fentanyl overdose. So far, RCMP don’t have any confirmed seizures of fentanyl in Revelstoke. “We’re very lucky that it hasn’t happened. We know that it’s in the community,” says Grabinsky. Still, there’s a threat of cross-contamination in cocaine or even marijuana. “Consuming things that you don’t know the origin of—does it have Ajax in it? Is there bleach in it? Or is straight cocaine? Nobody knows.”