No new vehicle thefts were reported in the past week, after a rash of nine vehicle thefts in Sea to Sky in less than two weeks. According to Corporal Dave Ritchie of the Squamish RCMP, the thefts are still under investigation.
Only one of the vehicles has been recovered after a high-speed chase on Highway 99 Jan. 16. The suspect fled into the woods ahead of a roadblock into Whistler, and was later arrested with the assistance of an RCMP dog team from North Vancouver.
Dawn Ashley Robson, 22, was charged with theft over $5,000, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, flight from police, prohibited driving and possession of a controlled substance.
According to Cpl. Ritchie, Robson is still in police custody until her next hearing on Feb. 5. She was known previously to the RCMP for thefts from vehicles, theft of vehicles and prohibited driving offences. "She has been caught several times in stolen vehicles and has been in several pursuits," said Cpl. Ritchie.
The other eight vehicles are a blue Toyota Tacoma with plate 5355EY, a white Ford F350 pickup with a black and red Ski-Doo snowmobile in the back and plate 3637KS, a light blue Toyota Tacoma with plate AA4804, a red Ford F350 with plate 6739IGC, a green Toyota Forerunner with plate 773HXK, a green Toyota Carmy with plate 925JXR, a grey Mazada 626 with plate 055JSX, and a Mazda 5 with plate HEA146.
RCMP are investigating whether the thefts are related to each other, and to a rash of thefts in the Benchlands area of Whistler. There is a possibility that a ring of thieves may be at work.
Trailer thieves caught in Surrey
On Jan. 25 thieves stole a heavy equipment trailer on Galbraith Avenue, and used it to steal a piece of construction machinery in North Vancouver later that day. The trailer and machinery were recovered later that day in Squamish.
It's not believed that this incident was related to the other thefts reported in the area.
Zero tolerance for parents that tolerate teen drinking
In response to a growing number of calls involving teen drinking in Whistler, the Whistler RCMP have met with local Parent Advisory Councils to make it clear that they would be going after parents that host parties or allow teen drinking in their homes. Parents that allow teen drinking will be subject to a mandatory fine of $500 as well as a mandatory court appearance.
Public safety is the RCMP's main concern, said Sergeant Steve Wright. "In Williams Lake there was a 16-year-old person who left one of these parties and froze to death in the snow bank," he said. "It's not that far-fetched to imagine that the same kind of thing can happen here when you have kids as young as 13 experimenting with alcohol."
RCMP pleased with storm response
While there haven't been as many snowstorms this year as past years, Whistler RCMP are satisfied that measures to keep traffic moving have been a success.
"We've had two weather-related incidents where the highway was affected by accidents (in December) where we implemented a new communications strategy with the Ministry of Transportation, and Miller Capilano and Mainroad Contracting," said Sergeant Steve Wright.
"One thing we're doing is leaving vehicles on the side of the road, and having the tow truck come at night when there's less traffic, instead of stopping traffic to pull vehicles out of ditches. We're doing tire checks in Squamish and Whistler as soon as it starts to snow. We've also stopped traffic to allow salt trucks to go down the highway, and it's been very successful."
If the highway is going to be shut down for longer than half an hour, the Whistler RCMP will send officers to Function Junction to turn people around. They are also in constant communication with Mountain FM and use the same radio channel as the contracting companies to give drivers up to date information.
The RCMP will continue to meet with the Ministry of Transportation and the contracting companies on a regular basis to discuss how the new communications strategy is working and make changes.
RCMP members in Sea to Sky Traffic Services are still trying to get an accident reconstructionist in the corridor to speed up the investigation of accidents and the reopening of the highway, but in the meantime say they are using experts from the Lower Mainland.