RED HARBOUR, N.L.
Steve Breon says Red Harbour is a nice, quiet community.
He wants to see it stay that way.
Around the middle of last year Breon, who has lived in the town for about five years, began tossing around the idea of starting up a Neighbourhood Watch program for his street.
“I guess it’s just like everything. We all watch the news and we read the newspapers. We all hear about what’s going on in other communities on the (Burin) Peninsula,” he told The Southern Gazette on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
“It seems like certain times of the year you always hear of home break-ins or people breaking into vehicles.”
Breon had previously lived in Colorado in the United States and there was a program in his neighbourhood there.
Realizing there’s more power in numbers, he ultimately decided to go beyond his street and take the initiative community-wide, approaching the town’s council, which was receptive to the idea.
The town purchased professionally made signs that Breon and his wife put up around the community.
Breon says the motivation to start up the program wasn’t a rash of break-ins or a crime spree in Red Harbour. Rather, it’s about being proactive and not waiting for criminal activity to hit the area.
The town may only have a population just under 200, according to the 2016 census, but crime is happening in communities all around the region, big and small, Breon says.
Breon held the first meeting of the Neighbourhood Watch back in late November, explaining to residents the reasoning for it and what it entails.
Basically, it’s about neighbours looking out for neighbours, he says.
“It doesn’t require you to patrol your neighbourhood. I mean, people aren’t going around in side-by-sides shining flashlights in your eyeballs, wanting to know who you are and where you’re from, right?” he says.
Instead, people are asked to take note of things that seem out of the ordinary, say if there’s a vehicle travelling slowly down a street with its occupants sizing things up more closely than they should be.
Breon says Cpl. Derm Roul of the Burin Peninsula RCMP gave a presentation at the November meeting in which he discussed the various crimes occurring in the region, as well as policing limitations given the geographical size of the area and the number of officers.
It was eye-opening for residents, Breon says.
Roul is a fan of the Neighbourhood Watch program and sees it as a great way for people to help make their communities safer.
“It basically gives us more eyes and ears in that area to help deter and report crime, so it’s fantastic,” he told The Southern Gazette.
The RCMP detachment in Marystown provides coverage from Monkstown south on the Burin Peninsula, a large region geographically, to be certain.
“So we can’t be everywhere, unfortunately, and when we’re responding to calls or out making patrols in the neighbouring communities, it certainly helps when we know that we can count on residents in the area if they see a suspicious vehicle or somebody walking in between homes that looks suspicious,” he said.
It is important, though, that people only report suspicious activity and not put themselves in harm’s way, the officer noted.
“I would actually hope that other communities on the peninsula would jump on board and start a program,” Roul said. “I have no problem meeting with the towns or representatives who want to do that and sort of explain the dos and don’ts of the Neighbourhood Watch program.”
Breon has reached out to other nearby communities, including Rushoon, Baine Harbour and Parker’s Cove, in hopes of expanding the network of people keeping watch in his area.
Criminals are smart, Breon says, so people have to outwit them.
“People are only going to be as strong as what you arm them with, so if you arm your community with knowledge, well, buddy, you’re already one step ahead,” he said.