Police in Fort Smith say a handgun, a vehicle, batons, handcuffs and ammunition have all gone missing in separate thefts.
A succession of incidents began on Saturday around 4:10am, when RCMP and the Fort Smith Fire Department responded to a call about a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle on fire at a local soccer field. The fire was extinguished, though the vehicle sustained extensive damage.
Later that afternoon, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) called RCMP to report break-ins in two buildings.
A range of items appeared to have been stolen, including: a side-by-side ATV, two collapsible batons, one set of handcuffs, two flair guns, two to four cans of pepper spray, and eight to 12 boxes of 180-grain Winchester 30-06 rounds of ammunition.
“The side-by-side ATV was later identified as the one in the vehicle fire from the earlier call for service,” wrote RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon in a news release issued on Wednesday.
On Monday, RCMP received another report of items stolen from a local residence some time between August 1 and August 15.
Items missing in that theft include a Browning Challenger handgun, a TV, iPad, laptop, and collectible coins.
“On their own, the individual items would not be a cause for concern. Collectively, this represents a potential threat to the safety and security of residents and first responders. We need the public’s help to locate these items,” said York-Condon.
“Residents of Fort Smith and communities in Northwest Territories are asked to be on the lookout for the above noted items, as they may surface in the community, or even possibly in other communities.
“With the delay in receiving the information, our investigators have little to go on in locating the stolen items. The missing handgun is of concern, as it can be a dangerous weapon.”
Small group responsible?
These most recent thefts and acts of arson occur on the heels of other acts of vandalism in the community over the summer, including vandalism of the tennis courts and the recently installed landslide memorial plaque; and a break-in at Aurora College where electronics and key fobs for vehicles were stolen, and fire extinguisher foam was sprayed inside.
York-Condon told Cabin Radio: “There is some evidence to suggest there may a small group of persons responsible. Members continue to investigate and have sent some evidence to NT RCMP’s Forensic Identification Unit to check for trace evidence.”
However, she advised the number of offences “is not significantly higher than previous years.”
On Sunday morning, another vehicle fire occurred at Pine Lake in Wood Buffalo National Park. RCMP said the location of the fire is out of their jurisdiction; Parks Canada has not responded to requests for comment.
York-Condon asked anyone with further information about these incidents to contact Fort Smith RCMP at 867-872-1111 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.