Police investigate a rash of robberies at cottages in the Laurentians

Police investigate a rash of robberies at cottages in the Laurentians
Police investigate a rash of robberies at cottages in the Laurentians

Residents of Lac Pilon in Ste-Adèle are setting up a neighbourhood watch program and installing security cameras after a rash of burglaries on their lake. Jillian Page / Montreal Gazette

Cottagers at a lake near Ste-Adèle are setting up a neighbourhood watch program and installing security cameras after thieves cleaned out several homes on Lac Pilon.

At least eight homes have been targeted in the past month. Some cottages were almost completely emptied as thieves made off with appliances, televisions, electronics, beds, dishes, cutlery and tools.

In one case, thieves made themselves at home in one residence, cooking food and helping themselves to the liquor cabinet before emptying the house of most of its contents.

“Those who haven’t been hit are worried and those who have been (robbed) are furious,” said Bob Lessard, the vice-president of the lake association. “Everyone is really concerned. They all want to go out and buy security cameras.”

Lessard said thieves stole a television and tools from his daughter’s house. “They tore the door off the frame, and they were attempting to take the dishwasher and the kitchen range,” he said. “They dragged it into the middle of the room, but I guess they changed their mind.”

The most recent robbery was committed this week in broad daylight when a homeowner stepped out for a couple of hours to do some shopping.

“That was the final straw, and it unnerved a lot of people,” said cottager Ron Shewchuk.

Shewchuk was one of 50 residents who attended a brainstorming session over the weekend to come up with ways of deterring thieves and making the community safer.

Many victims have reported the robberies to the police, and Lessard said the Sûreté du Québec is taking the matter seriously. “They are taking fingerprints, not just giving people a form for their insurance,” he said.

Lessard said many of the cottages are far apart and are surrounded by trees so no one has witnessed any of the break-ins. There are about 75 cottages on the lake.

“They are watching our movements,” he said of the thieves. “When you are gone, they break-in and clean you out.”

At the meeting on Saturday, residents discussed installing visible camera systems on their properties linked to the internet, both as a deterrent and to capture images of the culprits that will be stored online even if the thieves make off with the camera equipment.

The residents were also encouraged to photograph their possessions and engrave them, if possible.

Cottagers are planning to meet with the SQ to get advice on setting up a neighbourhood watch program and will contact the mayor of Ste-Adèle to try to have police patrols stepped up. 

“We are going to become a very serious neighbourhood watch community with everybody looking out for everyone,” Shewchuk said. “ I think it will be a significant deterrent if everybody is watching, posting signs and being aware.”

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