Anita Place Tent City has a known criminal element, say police. (THE NEWS/files)

Victim of theft in Maple Ridge wants homeless camp residents charged

A woman who recovered stolen goods from Anita Place Tent City would like to see everyone involved charged – both the thieves and the people who helped her to get valuable papers back for her.

Roxanne Feeney is a Langley resident, formerly of Maple Ridge, whose truck was broken into on Dec. 1, while she visited a friend who lives blocks from the homeless camp on 223rd Street.

A window of the pickup was smashed, and thieves stole her winter coat, a lighter jacket and dash camera. But most importantly, she lost a bag that contained court papers and journals related to a legal action. They were important to her getting access to her granddaughter. She was brought to tears.

On a hunch, Feeney and her friend went to Anita Place, and found a CD, which had been in her truck, laying on the ground. It was music that had been a favourite of a native elder she knew, who had passed away.

“When I miss him I play this CD,” she said, adding that victims of crime have things stolen from them beyond their material worth.

She spoke to a camp resident and told him she was desperate to have her court papers and journals returned. He took her phone number, and said he would make inquiries.

About two hours later, the man called to say he had located the court papers and a journal. He said it cost him money to acquire the papers, and he wanted to be reimbursed.

They arranged to meet at a restaurant on North Avenue, and Feeney got some money out of the bank.

She waited at the meeting point.

“He comes walking up the street like Santa Claus carrying a garbage bag,” she added.

Inside the bag, she found one of her journals. She paid him $60 for the court papers and one journal.

The two talked, and Feeney, having grown up in Haney, learned they had mutual acquaintances.

The camp resident told her that the men who broke into her truck are in their early 20s, and one lives at the camp, while the other is applying to live there.

The next day, Sunday, she got her truck window fixed, for $100.

Through social media, she made contact with another person associated with the camp, who said she would make inquiries about the other missing journal.

The second contact was also successful, and Feeney met her at a nearby business to collect it.

Feeney feels the people who helped her get her possessions back are accomplices because they knew who had her stolen belongings and didn’t report that to police.

Feeney admits she is “not as caring and open as I used to be” toward homeless people, after having been a victim of crimes involving that population while she worked in second-stage housing in downtown Vancouver.

Ridge Meadows RCMP Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk would not comment on Feeney’s case specifically, but said police must meet a high standard of evidence when recommending charges to Crown council.

It cannot include “he said/she said,” or hearsay, Gresiuk added.

She also advised people who have been victims of crime to call police first. Don’t try to confront thieves.

“Call police in the first instance,” she said.

“If you see your stolen property on Craig’s List, call police and ask them to retrieve it.”

Gresiuk noted that police have gone to Anita Place and retrieved stolen property, including bikes. But trying to recover stolen property there on your own is unwise, she added.

“I would caution people about that.”

She said people should take photos of their valuables and their serial numbers, including power tools and bikes, so they are easy to identify.

And she said police have cautioned the public about a rise in thefts from vehicles.

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