A rash of cabin burglaries near Big Point on Lake Manitoba has coincided with a massive manhunt for a missing man from Sandy Bay First Nation.
"Our cabin was broken into and for two days in a row cabins have been broken into," said a Brandon resident, who owns a cabin near Big Point.
Dillon Beaulieu, 22, is still missing following a boating accident May 14.
RCMP said that shortly after 8 p.m. they received a report that high winds had overturned a small boat on Lake Manitoba near Langruth.
Two men were thrown into the water —Beaulieu and 25-year-old Rambo Roulette.
Roulette managed to swim to shore and was the last person to see Beaulieu attempting to swim in the water.
On May 17, local searchers found Beaulieu’s shoes about three kilometres away from where the boat capsized.
Since Beaulieu’s disappearance, more than 100 people from CFB Winnipeg, Amaranth RCMP, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and Sandy Bay First Nation have been searching for the missing man.
While the cabin owner sympathized with the searchers who are trying to find Beaulieu, she questioned some of the people involved in the search party’s intentions, connecting the increase in activity due to the search to the break-ins of cabins.
"Are they concerned about the guy who could still be alive in the water? Or did you just want to go through the cabins and see what they could steal?" she asked. "It shouldn’t happen."
Amaranth RCMP confirmed the burglaries and vandalism to cabins, which comes at a vulnerable time for homeowners in the area, who are still reeling after being hit hard by last year’s spring flood.
"That’s what really gets me because we’re down and out and people are breaking into cabins," she said. "Our cabin door frame was smashed and they had thrown everything around."
After surveying the damage to the house and shed, the homeowners turned their attention to what was missing.
Money, tools and a barbecue were gone. Following a sand trail in the beach turned up the barbecue, but it was something sentimental inside the cabin that was vandalized that really frustrated the cabin owner.
"What really upset me is that we had a nice five-by-seven picture of our son and daughter-in-law from Mexico, and they took a pen and scratched right into the picture — why did you have to do that?" she asked.
The cabin owners hauled everything out of the cabin on Saturday, putting items into storage until they can be dealt with at a later date.
Power to the cabins has been cut off since the flood and won’t be restored until the residence meets new flood criteria from the provincial government, which includes changes to the foundation and height of the cabin, the homeowner said.
The break-ins aren’t the only fear for the homeowners who say they have been promised money from the provincial government verbally, but any time they try to get something in writing they are given the run around.
"We’re going to do all of the work without power," she said. "The government is saying we have to pay for it up front and then submit the bills, but that scares me, too."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 22, 2012