Vandals hitting Hooge area

Vehicle break-ins are a problem.

Kids like hanging out and fooling around after dark, which is fine, until you cross the line.

For example,  drinking beer outside Harry Hooge elementary isn’t fine.

Nor is dealing drugs, stealing stuff from unlocked autos, or, in one instance, involving two pint-sized pranksters, releasing the parking brakes of an auto so it can roll away.

Resident Stephan Baran says neighbours are dealing with all the above and more as about 50 kids, who all seem to be in their early teens, get up to no good after hours around the school on 230th Street and 122nd Avenue.

While the school is only for kindergarten to Grade 7, after hours the building seems to turn into a focal point for sculduggery.

“It just seems that it’s a great place to hang out.”

“The kids continue to be there all hours of the night,” said Baran.

Often, they’re hanging around to score drugs, he adds.

In June, Baran’s security camera caught one image of two boys, barely the height of a side view mirror, trying to break into cars and releasing the parking brakes on some vehicles, resulting in one rolling down a driveway. Then while he gets a lecture, his partner goes and checks out another vehicle.

In addition to the petty crime, residents have to put up with cars doing loud doughnuts at night and kids keying cars.

On June 30, when residents complained about rowdyism, four vehicles were keyed. Neighbors believe the teens were responsible for the damage.

To improve things, Baran and four others are discussing forming a Block Watch and plan on having a meeting with Ridge Meadows RCMP in the next few weeks.

Ridge Meadows RCMP civilian media spokesman Dan Herbranson said police have received a few calls from the area.

But, “the amount of confirmed serious files in the area is not all that outstanding.”

Neighbours complain, police respond, kids take off – ending in nothing to report and no incident, he explained.

Baran has found out that just talking and e-mailing and communicating via the Facebook group Reid Ave. Block Watch with other residents helps provide some reassurance to those who feel beleaguered by what’s going around them.

Some residents are too scared to even pick up the phone because they fear retaliation.

“The kids at the school are the real problem,” he said.

He’d like to see police more often.

“We need more of a presence at the school, more patrols.”

Baran’s also contacted the school district, which put up a chain across the driveway to keep vehicles off the school grounds.

He’s happy that the school district is helping out, but says keeping the security lights on at night would help.

“At 10 p.m., the lights are turned off – pitch black. So it becomes a dispensary.”

According to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district, vandalism is no worse at Harry Hooge than any other school.

Irena Pochop, school district spokesperson, said the outside lights stay on until 11:30 p.m. and the custodian is in the building until 11 p.m. Keeping the lights on longer would increase costs, she pointed out. And there’s another view that a full blackout of a school is more effective at deterring vandalism.

• Any vandalism can be reported to the school district’s hotline, 604-466-4357.

 

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