Cottrell's Cove residents start petition to kick alleged thief out of town

Residents of a small town in central Newfoundland are demanding that one of their neighbours leave, and organizers are planning a petition for later this spring to reinforce their demand.

A string of break-and-enters in the town over the past three years coincides with the arrival of the man, who most residents of Cottrell's Cove believe is the perpetrator.

"Cabin owners and homeowners have come to our door and said we have to do something," said Fran Boone, one of the people behind the petition.

The small town of less than 150 permanent residents has experienced more than two dozen break-ins over the past three years. 

Garrett Barry/CBC

The nearest police station is in Grand Falls-Windsor, about 1½ hours away.

Boone said while the RCMP are doing their job and have investigated the offences, the residents feel the justice system is not following through.

"They can charge him and when it goes to court he just walks away with it," Boone said. "The justice system is failing us. He was in court the last year or so. He has been out and going back and forth. But he broke into four more places since he's been going back and forth to court."

He is no longer welcome at my home. He's not my friend no more. - William Smith, frustrated resident

William Smith is a member of the local service district committee that runs the community, and is also helping to organize the petition. 

He said while there is no guarantee that a petition can force the man to leave the community, they are willing to try anything. 

"We don't know but we're going to try anyway to see what happens," Smith said. "I mean at least we're going to try and get him out of town if we can."

Garrett Barry/CBC photo

He and many other residents in Cottrell's Cove are at their wits end with the man. 

"He is no longer welcome at my home. He's not my friend no more. Everybody has had enough of it," Smith said. "I just don't know what to do with the guy anymore."

Boone said the man blames alcohol for his desire to commit the break-ins. 

"He did tell one person here that he breaks in only when he's feeling good — when he's drinking a few drinks."

Garrett Barry/CBC photo

She said the petition will be available for signatures starting May 23 of this year, since many cabin owners return to their properties after that date. 

The RCMP did not comment on the petition, but in a statement to the CBC, did acknowledge they are investigating multiple break-ins in Cottrell's Cove, two of which have occurred since the start of January.  

"Charges can only be laid when there is evidence supporting them," the statement reads. "The investigations are ongoing."

Police urge anyone with information on the crimes to contact the Grand Falls-Windsor RCMP.

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