Monday, August 20, 2007

Seventy three year old man tired of being a victim of crime

Friday’s Daily News detailed the troubles of Louie Belas, a seventy three year old resident who lives just outside of the city of Prince Rupert. Over the last few years he has been the victim of several break and enters at his property, a situation that the RCMP has been unable to resolve so far.

Belas who has four files currently with the RCMP some dating back to 1999, has been away from his property more frequently these days due to a number of medical problems that he is facing. It’s when he leaves town that his house becomes a target, though he is worried that one night he’ll be victimized while he’s at home.

His story paints a rather cowardly picture of those who are taking advantage of his isolation and personal situation. It also suggests that perhaps some form of social assistance or home care services might be needed for the senior in declining health. Hopefully someone at Northern health will have read the Daily News story and sent a case worker out to his residence to take a look and see what assistance might be available for him in his current situation.

Almost as a side story, his problems raise the local discussion point about the number of RCMP members in the community and whether there are enough posted to the detachment to do a proper job considering the case load that is faced on a daily basis. A look back at a Daily news story from April shows an underlying bit of frustration from some of the local members while working in an understaffed situation.

In the article from Friday’s paper, the staffing situation in the city is described as at the minimum level, leaving the local detachment with little extra resources to take a more pro-active approach to crime locally. So perhaps some of that frustration is still there some four months later.
The city has kept a number of positions unfilled over the years as the financial situation of the city declined as did the population, the question many locals may want to ask is if public safety is one area of cost cutting that the city wishes to keep reductions in place for.

We suspect that Mr. Belas might be able to help with some background for their discussions.

Seventy three year old can’t sleep for fear he’ll wake up to intruders
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, August 17, 2007
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert resident Louie Belas has enough on his plate these days without having to worry about having his home broken into and vandalized whenever he leaves town.

The 73 year old has been the victim of several break-ins over the last few years on his property just outside of the City, and to this day police have been unable to solve his problem.

“I’m really struggling. Everything was going good until a few years ago, said Belas.

“I was in Vancouver for radiation treatment, and my house was robbed. They broke the lock, and all my guns disappeared, my jewellery and all kinds of other things. I reported it to the police and they said it was too late and they couldn’t find any fingerprints.”

In the more recent break-ins. Belas has had everything from gold necklaces and bracelets to some of his prized collective coins stolen, as well as his house turned upside down in acts of vandalism.

“We do have four files in the past, with Louie as the complainant of break and enters. One in ’99, two in 2003, and one for this year,” said Constable Starr of the Prince Rupert R.C.M.P.

“The one for this year, they’ve done quite a bit of work on it. They seized a bunch of exhibits, sent them to our forensic ident team, and unfortunately nothing was revealed. We have followed proper procedure for it, so no slacking was done. It was followed to the furthest extent, and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t go any further because there were no witnesses, and there was no forensic evidence to prove a suspect.”

Besides suffering from prostate cancer, Belas had had to undergo a quadruple by-pass, for which he recently received a pace-maker implant. Not to mention a hernia he had operated on last year, and another one which he says doesn’t hurt him enough to worry about right now.

He says he has a hard time sleeping at night now not only because of his physical health, but due to stress from worrying about what may happen.

“Of course my place is a mess, I’m alone, I can’t doe everything at the same time,” said Belas.

“Many times I forget event to take breakfast. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. The police they upset me so much. I’m so afraid, last night I only sleep for two hours. Thinking what the heck’s going to happen if some punks come at nighttime, break the door and beat me.

“I asked the police one time what happens if somebody kills me here?

“She said “Oh we gonna investigate,” I said ‘Well, if I’m dead, will you come please and kiss my ass?

What about prevention?

Belas has requested several times that police set up a short surveillance of his property for several hours after he has left in an attempt to catch a thief, but the R. C. M. P. have said that due to limited manpower, they can’t take any pre-emptive approach to problems such as this.

“It would be nice if we had enough manpower to do surveillance like that, but due to the low manpower we’re running at minimum. Everywhere else I’ve been to we haven’t gone before, we’ve always had to attend after something has happened,” said Starr.

“If he felt like something was going to happen, if he could stay home, or find some sort of better security system for his house, that would allow us to have a chance to try and catch them.

“Maybe better door locks, or good secure doors. Things like that help stop, so we think, people’s houses from being broken into.”

Louie Belas doesn’t know what to do anymore.

“Lately, I’m at the end of my rope,” he said with a tear in his eye. “I don’t want to do anything stupid. I’ve been looking after myself since I was 12 years old, but I don’t know if I can keep up with this.”

Anyone with information about the break-ins and vandalism of Mr. Belas’ home is asked to call the Prince Rupert RCMP at (250) 624-0700.

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