Concerns about rising property crime in Oil Springs prompt meeting

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Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

A rash of property crimes has Oil Springs residents worried about crime in the village.

Over 75 concerned residents crowded into the meeting room at the Oil Springs Fire Hall on Sept. 12 to voice their displeasure about the amount of crime in Oil Springs. Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen called the unofficial meeting to get people’s feedback on the level of crime in Oil Springs.

The crimes which prompted the meeting, were the recent thefts of gas stolen from vehicles parked on Main Street on two separate nights.

There was also a theft of gas at the Oil Springs Service Centre. All of these incidents took place in the early morning – before 6 am.

People in the crowd also mentioned a of couple of vehicle thefts and a break and enter.

Veen told the assembled crowd, he had asked for a meeting with the Ontario Provincial Police, but he didn’t get a response.

Veen did not ask the Lambton OPP to attend the public meeting Sept. 12, but he hoped they would be at a future public meeting in Oil Springs.

Veen said a petition will be put together by Oil Springs Clerk Martha Gawley asking for the Lambton OPP to attend a future public meeting on the issue.

The petition will be sent to both Lambton OPP Inspector Chris Avery and Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey. People will be asked to stop at the Oil Springs Municipal Office to sign the petition when it is ready.

Veen said then a public meeting will be held at the youth centre, which is a bigger venue than the fire hall, where the Lambton OPP can be in attendance.

A report received by the Police Services Board for the Lambton OPP shows as of June, there has been a slight reduction in the total amount of property crime across the county in the first six months.

In 2022, there were 393 incidents compared to 282 for the same period in 2023. Property crime includes arson, break and enter, theft, possession of stolen goods, fraud and mischief.

Residents were also concerned about the lack of police presence in the village and the amount of time it takes for Lambton OPP to respond to calls.

A request was made to Lambton OPP for comment about the concerns about rising property crimes and wait time for police, but no response has been received by press time.

In response to a question from a woman who was concerned how the crime in Oil Springs would affect her children, Veen reassured her the community was mostly dealing with property crime so it didn’t pose a danger to her children.

Frustrations were heightened for some during the meeting, as one individual declared he should take matters into his own hands, before storming out. Veen cautioned people against taking matters into their own hands.

Several suggestions were made from the crowd to improve crime levels in the community, including installing surveillance cameras. Veen said this was something the Oil Springs Council could consider for the 2024 municipal budget.

Another idea was to establish a community watch where volunteers could walk or drive areas of Oil Springs. Veen suggested someone could organize this effort, but he wasn’t sure who would at this point.

Veen said one thing residents could do if they see something out of place, was to get a license plate number, along with a make and model of a vehicle.

Former mayor Gord Perry suggested people could make their property safer asking for a show of hands as to how many leave their keys in the car or leave it unlocked. A few hands went up.

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