Theft leaves family shaken

Salmon Arm residents saddened by theft of items for which they worked so hard to buy.

Syd Couillard standing at the rear entrance of her house where theives gained entrance and robbed her family.

Syd Couillard standing at the rear entrance of her house where theives gained entrance and robbed her family.

When Sidney Couillard and her family moved to Salmon Arm three-and-a-half years ago she never expected they would be victims of a break-in.

The family had been robbed in their former Burnaby home and her 11-year-old son often asked if it would happen in Salmon Arm.

“I always said it was not very likely,” she says.

But Couillard can no longer tell her son that.

Sometime around 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, while Couillard was skating with her son, someone with a red Neon broke into the family’s South Canoe home and made off with several electronic items.

More importantly, they robbed her older boy of his sense of security and took from a family who has worked hard to first buy a home and then, only in the past few years, managed to buy some of the electronic extras such as two televisions, DVD players and a camera.

“Did you consider when you saw that old house, walked through that old wooden door, walked by the secondhand furniture and my young son’s Lego, that it had taken all the money we had at the time to buy that house and the stuff in it?” she asks the robber(s) in a letter to the editor that helped her grieve the loss. “Did you imagine my seven-year-old son the next day playing only games about robbers with his friend and talking to me about how we could stop you next time?”

Couillard says the robber(s) had a 45-minute window of time in which to get in through the back door, which was unlocked at the time because she was planning to be out very briefly.

A neighbour driving by the 10th Avenue SE home saw someone, a woman he thought, piling items into a red Neon, but thought it was a Couillard family member or friend.

When he passed Couillard on the road, she was less than a minute from home.

The only clue left on the property was a large footprint.

“My husband is 6’3” and this footprint was huge, bigger than my husband’s,” she says.

Couillard says it took police quite a while to respond as they were tied up at a fatal accident.

Told to go and look for tire tracks or footprints, Couillard says she was getting concerned because it was snowing, but relaxed when she found a good one in the carport.

She says police looked for fingerprints but failed to find any.

“I felt let down, I wasn’t frightened and I am not that attached to the TVs,” she says. “But I found for the first couple of days I was angry – short with my kids, short with my husband and then I kinda got depressed for a couple of days.”

While the Couillards were insured, the $500 deductible means some other bills are waiting in a to-be-paid lineup.

Sgt. Carlos Tettlowski at the Salmon Arm RCMP detachment says property offences including B and Es are down.

He points out that many thefts are opportunistic, such as when thieves cruise along beside parked cars checking to see if they’re locked.

“We always advise people to lock their doors even at home, just for safety’s sake,” he says, noting one of the reasons break and enters are down is because police are targeting prolific offenders. “One of them can do 50 B and Es in a week.”