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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Youth gone wild

The kids are not all right in Westman.

And the problem of youth hooliganism — with crimes committed at all hours of the day and night — is especially apparent in the city of Brandon.

No it isn’t, you say? Our precious little darlings are studying hard, have summer jobs lined up and are all tucked in at night.

While most are doing just that, a troubling number of troublemakers live without proper parenting, are mollycoddled by a lax justice system and are not supervised and

reprogrammed properly once they do show they aren’t interested in being contributing members of society or role models for the next generation.

To illustrate my point, I typed in the keyword “Youth” in the search engine on brandonsun.com at random on Thursday morning.

On the first Internet “page” of results, of 10 stories, nine were about youth crimes. Only one shows any hope for our future generation: “Cadets Canvassing For Soup Kitchen.”

Here are some of the other headlines just from this week:

• “Teen Firebug To Serve Sentence In Community.

• “Two Girls Charged In Attack At Foster Home.

• “13-Year-Old Driver Charged After Joyride.”

In recent weeks, readers will have enjoyed tales from the police blotter and reports from youth court about:

• Repeated runaways from group homes in the city.

• A 15-year-old boy sentenced to six months in jail for stealing a truck and taking part in the armed robbery of a city convenience store.

• A girl charged with assault causing bodily harm after a lunch-time altercation at a Brandon high school.

• A drunk Brandon boy was found to have a sawed-off shotgun stashed in his bedroom. Police say he was breaching the conditions of a court order by drinking alcohol.

• A teen who sold drugs at school to support his own drug habit has been sentenced to probation.

• A 13-year-old boy has been jailed for his part in a rural home invasion — he was one of two boys who terrified a mother as her two young children slept in their home. The 13-year-old was also put on probation for a previous crime in which he and a 14-year-old accomplice tried to set fire to a police car.

• A teen has been ordered to take sex offender counselling after making his young brother perform oral sex on him.

• Three girls left their group home to go “car-hopping,” which is slang for stealing items from unlocked vehicles. At the Keystone Centre parking lot, they found an unlocked 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt with the keys inside. The girls got in and drove off, later damaging the car.

The last incident is not only galling because the little lovelies thought it was funny to steal the car and bragged about doing so on Facebook, but the incident could have been prevented by the owner of the vehicle, who left the keys in the car.

While in some utopian society, it might be commonplace to leave piles of money on your stoop and your front door wide open. Ha.

As we all know, in any urban centre and most smaller towns, the cash will be gone and your possessions will be stolen or vandalized.

But I digress.

I’m going to stay on course with the auto-theft problem for the rest of the column today, as it leads to many other dangerous and often disastrous situations.

And believe it or not — I have trouble believing this — many vehicle thefts happen when these young thieves simply get in and turn the key.

Ah yes, some folks must be dopey enough to believe they live in that aforementioned utopian world.

Wake up, dopes.

Who would ever think that leaving the keys in a vehicle is the right thing to do?

It’s up to you if you want to leave the vehicles unlocked so as to prevent a smash and grab of whatever you have left inside the vehicle. But that also opens your car or truck to becoming a crash pad for some drunk overnight.

While the Brandon Police Service reported an overall decline in crime in 2013 compared to the previous year, there were still concerns over the number of car thefts.

Vehicle thefts jumped 30 per cent to 82 reports in 2013 from 63 in 2012.

Police Chief Ian Grant said the force is trying to educate the public about the need to stop leaving vehicles unlocked with the keys inside, especially as they idle in winter.

“We continue to encourage the public to secure your vehicles, lock your vehicles, definitely don’t leave keys in your vehicles,” Grant told the Sun, adding there were 28 cases in which vehicles were stolen after being left unlocked with the keys inside.

He said joyriders or transportation seekers, rather than professional thieves, tend to be behind car thefts in Brandon. That trend is common in cities across Canada.

Take a case in Saskatchewan just over a week ago. A 21-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl now face several charges after a bloody crash that left two teenagers dead and one in serious condition, CBC reported. Both accused have been charged in the past with vehicle thefts.

Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill told CBC the collision highlights the problem of stolen vehicles in the city. There have been 39 arrests since April 1 involving youths stealing cars. In addition, overall vehicle thefts in Saskatoon are up 28 per cent from last year — similar to the jump seen in Brandon.

Weighill noted 70 per cent of those vehicle thefts happened because the owners left their keys in the vehicle — such as what happened with the most recent fatal crash.

“Such a senseless, meaningless happening last night,” Weighill said. “I can’t even talk about the frustration I’m facing being the chief of police in Saskatoon with the amount of stolen vehicles we’re seeing.

“We’ve repeatedly asked people not to leave keys in their cars.”

•••

While I’m generally one of those who believe the best way to crack down on crime is to lock up the criminals — yeah, call me a Tory, I guess — I am also somewhat sympathetic to those who attempt to address the “root causes” of anti-social and criminal behaviour.

So I was interested to hear Mayor Shari Decter Hirst announce in her State of the City speech Thursday that Brandon will develop “a community mobilization strategy” that, according to Her Worship, will “dig down into the root causes of crime and provide a more permanent solution to crime in our city.”

During a media scrum following her speech, I asked SDH if that would be modelled after a similar, moderately acclaimed, strategy in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighbourhood.

She said it would “be more” than what residents and authorities are doing in that troubled community; it would be more like programs in Prince Albert, Sask., and Lethbridge, Alta.

Police board chair Mark Frison and police Chief Ian Grant will provide more details on the local initiative once they are available.

I look forward to hearing about it. I expect the youth component will involve various agencies and the school board. It will likely also include more ways to keep the kids off the streets and offer them constructive activities to challenge their crooked minds and keep their stickly fingers clean.

But I also call for more cops to be prowling, er patrolling, moonlit lanes and alleys looking for these teen troublemakers and catch them red-handed for prosecution.

And of course, we then need a judiciary who is cognizant of society’s general disgust and anger with these losers and is willing to throw the book at them.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 10, 2014

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Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 2 Commentscomment icon

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Boot camp is a favorite with people who've never been to one. Can't think of a much better place for kids to learn skills in criminal behaviour than herded in with the hard core offenders in a place like that. Do you suppose it' s actually because kids earning poverty wages at their McJobs can ill afford cars compared to us oldies who've worked for years and built up healthy savings and credit ratings, that more cars get stolen by the young (if that's even true?) As far as googling up words go, how many stories about decent kids doing decent things ever get reported on the internet? Goodness and decency isn,t newsworthy, really pretty boring stuff to try and sell a newspaper with - so of course there'll be a disproportionate amount of bad " youth" stories on the net. Hardly proof of anything, but latching on to such internet unbalance does seem to demonstrate an unhealthy pre-disposition to expect the worst and ignore the best. Very disappointing article.

BRAVO, James, bravo!

Please continue to tell it like it is with the statistics to back you up.

My daughter noticed that tagging appears to have increased within this city as well.

Perhaps Brandon needs to discuss the idea of a Boot Camp which could be operated out of Shilo.

I have spoken to individuals in Shilo and they indicated they are having trouble with some of their youth there as well.

I totally agree with the comments in your article.

It's perhaps time to have these discussions as a community and take our rose-colored glasses off.

Perhaps you could ask each Mayoral candidate to lay out what their specific and strategic plans are to fight youth crime and delinquency within this city.

Perhaps you could ask Larry Maguire what he is prepared to do to make our Judicial System tougher on these young offenders and make parents more accountable for the actions of their underage children.

Perhaps the roles of parents and parenting should also be discussed at the community level as well.

We will get exactly what we are willing to tolerate.

Bravo, Mr. O, bravo!






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The kids are not all right in Westman.

And the problem of youth hooliganism — with crimes committed at all hours of the day and night — is especially apparent in the city of Brandon.

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The kids are not all right in Westman.

And the problem of youth hooliganism — with crimes committed at all hours of the day and night — is especially apparent in the city of Brandon.

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