This week I was surprised to hear about an incident that took place in Burns Lake. A car was stolen from a residence while it was left warming up.
The RCMP was not surprised with this incident, however, saying it is actually a common occurrence in small towns. After that I couldn’t help but think about my own habits and how I used to view small towns before I moved to Burns Lake.
I have an old vehicle that does not allow me to start the car by simply pressing a key fob button (that would be perfect for me). Since I live on the third floor of an apartment building, I spent all winter going down three flights of stairs to start my car, then going back upstairs and leaving the car unlocked warming up for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Although I have wondered several times if my car was safe, I never actually thought that this type of crime would occur in a small town.
In fact, for the first few months after I moved to Burns Lake, I went to work several times without locking my apartment’s door. Not to mention, I have parked my car several times in the downtown area without locking it, and leaving my keys inside.
But after living here for two and a half years, I am finally learning that small towns can easily give you a false sense of security, and that it’s important to take all kinds of precautions – the same precautions you would take in a larger centre.
What I am also learning, unfortunately, is that northern B.C. does not feel safe at times.
Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who’s from a fairly dangerous country – Brazil – and lived in two other countries before moving to Canada. I have lived in cities of two, three and seven million people, as well as small towns – even smaller than Burns Lake. And in that period, I never had to contact the police for any reason.
But since I moved to northern B.C., I have literally lost count of how many times I’ve contacted the police or felt unsafe – whether it was for someone breaking into my building, having my bag stolen on a bus while I was sleeping, having to report a domestic violence, noise complaint and even what I believe was a hate crime.
It has certainly challenged my assumption that small towns are safe, or at least safer than big cities.
I haven’t seen any statistics suggesting that Burns Lake is more dangerous than other towns of similar size, and I am sure that the Burns Lake RCMP has been doing a terrific job. I can only speak from my own experience and how surprised I am with all the issues I’ve encountered.