Nick Cornea of Farmers Against Rural Crime

Good afternoon members of the committee,
Members of Parliament and the other witnesses called upon to speak
on rural crime today. My name’s Nick Cornea and I am the founder and
president of Farmers Against Rural Crime, A Facebook page that I started up in
February to bring awareness and to push for changes on rural crime in Western
Canada. I may find it hard to keep this under 10 into a ten minute introduction,
but I am I am here today as one voice for the 17,500 members that I have on my
page from coast to coast. I’m a father of two And a third-generation farmer on a
farm near Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. We live near two large populated areas, Moose Jaw
and Regina. Living near these populated areas we face the challenges of rural
crime on a daily basis. Over the last eight months of this page being created
I have received hundreds upon hundreds of stories from people all over Canada
about crime in their area. Their firsthand experiences with the struggles
of handling theft financially and emotionally are, they’re, like [pause] They’re second to none. Some of the stories that have been told to me would break most people’s hearts Stories of families that show their children where to hide
in their house so if thieves do break into their house their children can be safe. Coming home from the school bus and having to run from their lane up into
the yard into the house lock the doors. Stories of people that put an 8-foot
chain-link fence with razor wire around their house They all have an automatic
opener for the gate to get into their house, They drive their vehicle in, they
close the gate, they then hit their garage door opener, open the garage door,
drive in, close the garage door and then unlock their house. That’s how bad some areas are in northern Saskatchewan. Victims are not losing… Victims are losing not only material goods, They’re losing livestock, pets, and even lately, a large Clydesdale horse To thieves just to make a quick buck. I’ve also heard the issues with response times of police In rural Western Canada even though we may only be 20 to 30 minute drive from the
nearest dettachment the response time of an officer may be from hours up to even
days to get out to our locations. This leaves us as, quote-unquote, “sitting ducks”
for criminals to come out and get what they want and leave. We are then left
frightened, alone and fearing we may have to defend ourselves Which will put us into becoming a criminal and no longer the victim as we have seen with the
Maurice family in Okotoks Alberta. In Saskatchewan we have also seen an
increase in young offenders doing the crimes Some young offenders in the last
few months, as young as 11 years old being involved in break and enters and
thefts of motor vehicles. My group has made an outcry to have the age of the
Youth Criminal Justice Act reduced to the age of 14 to 15. These teenagers know
what they are doing and how to do it and And they do know the crime on their
record will be exonerated once they turn the age of 18. The lifetime criminals also know this and they use this to their advantage. In conclusion, the vast majority of our group would like to see the changes in the Youth Criminal
Justice Act, Stiffer penalties to the criminals, and stop that revolving door
from turning. Restitution for loss of goods and insurance premiums. Not only are possessions stolen, we then have to pay a deductible to get them back. Then, in turn, the insurance company raises our
premiums to get the money back for the for the money that they have given us. Faster response times for police and RCMP, Stationing one or two officers in
every small community would probably help the situation. Might not fix it but, would definitely help it. We would also like to see funding for mental health of the victims. Victims who suffer from anxiety and other issues stemming from the crime on their property I have one story in particular. A 26 year old woman
who farms and ranches with a neighbor, Every paycheck she saves money and goes
to the local – like over the year she’ll save her money from working on the
neighboring ranch – she goes to the local livestock auction buys one or two head
of Red Heifers, brings them back to her place and and tries to grow her herd. Her end goal is she wants to make a sustainable future for herself and her family. She’s been broken into in the last four years six times. Four in the last two years. One time in particular she came home All her doors were open,
her dogs were outside and her fences were left open She was scared. She didn’t
go in she went back to work she called her father and her boss. They went and
checked out the house. when she arrived after – when they said the coast was clear – she walked into complete devastation TV’s ripped off the walls and stolen,
they had literally jumped through the drywall Destroying the house from end to
end. And not only did they hurt her financially, they hurt her emotionally, Stealing her underwear drawer to take with them as a prized possession, Or some kind of trophy. These are things that our group would like to see change. We don’t want to live in fear for our lives and fear for our families. I myself have a 15 year old sister and a 13 year brother that help on the farm. I don’t want to have to have the radio phone call From being in the field
combining or driving the semi From my sister or my brother, saying there’s someone in our yard I don’t know what to do? I know a lot of you are from urban
areas and don’t realize that a tractor isn’t like a truck or a car. We do 20 kilometers an hour to 30 kilometers an hour down the road, in road gear. There is no mechanism to lock the door and generally all our doors are made of
glass so we have full view of our crop as we’re driving, spraying, combining, seeding other tillage properties there are other tillage parts in our farm. I never want to hear that phone call that my sister is being murdered raped taken advantage of because these criminals, once you see their face, then all of
a sudden, it’s fight or flight for them. So I know we’re a long distance
apart, But when you’re making your findings and doing your reports, Think of my family. Think of my four-year-old son. My one-year-old daughter. My 13 year old
brother. My 15 year old sister. And the fear that we have in our area with
criminals and theft. Because it’s not only the properties that we’re worried
about losing, it’s our family members. I’d like to thank you guys for inviting me
to be part of this inquiry. I hope together we can bring forth
changes to help combat this epidemic in rural Canada. I always finish on my
Facebook page with the slogan of our page, “Be vigilant and not
vigilantes.” Thank you!

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