Alleged theft of flood victims food
Foothills: Items taken from Saddlebrook relief community
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 05:23 pm
The theft of food supplies designated for a community for people left homeless by the High River flood has shocked the residents of the Saddlebrook temporary housing complex.
For one resident in particular not only is she shocked someone could stoop to something so low, but also the fact it could even be done at all.
“I just don’t see how they could possibly get away with it,” said Deborah Moshenko, who have lived at the Saddlebrook community just south of Aldersyde along Secondary Highway 2A for the past four weeks. “I don’t see how it could happen because there is just so much detail to security out there.
“But anytime theft happens, definitely it’s concerning.”
A 24-year-old Okotoks man was charged with theft under $5,000 after his home was searched on Oct. 12 and a significant amount of stolen food and food supplies were found. They were believed to be taken from one of the supply facilities for the dining establishments at Saddlebrook.
It was food meant to be served to displaced flood victims.
“There was a fair bit of pop and I don’t know what else specifically that was taken,” said High River RCMP Staff Sgt. Ian Shardlow. “It could be this fellow is just trying to offset his own grocery bill, but there is a fair bit of stuff there so he could be profiting from it to some degree.
“I just don’t have enough information.”
Although RCMP detachments such as Okotoks and High River see thousands of files a year, this kick ‘em-when-they-are-down crime hit the communities harder than the typical theft charge.
“This is significantly different than a shoplifting — you are taking from people who are at the worst part of their lives,” Shardlow said. “Life has kicked them in the teeth – with the flood, their homes and all the stuff that has gone on over the summer… Saddlebrook is certainly not ideal, but it is their homes.”
Okotoks and High River RCMP detachments worked together on the investigation leading to the arrest on Oct. 12.
Okotoks RCMP Sgt. Donna Rorison said the thefts occurred over a period of time.
She said she shares Shardlow’s feelings about the crime, which goes beyond a typical theft.
“These people have had the bejeebers kicked out of them and they are doing the best they can to get back on their feet,” she said. “(The people of) Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Okotoks and High River are all pulling together and giving up much of their time and money to get everybody back and up and running.
“It is quite stunning the amount of hours and hours people donated of their time to help — it is a slap in the face to them,” she added. “It is unthinkable that after someone has lost everything — now you want to take their food.”
She said RCMP got co-operation from across the area to “put together the pieces… everyone was willing to help rather than not wanting to get involved.”
Meanwhile, Moshenko said she continues to feel safe and welcomed at Saddlebrook.
“I always feel safe and I am up early and back late,” she said. “There are always security people that I encounter.”
She added nearby neighbours have bicycles and chairs sitting outside in the open and there has never been a concern for theft.
Shardlow said the High River RCMP do regular surveillance in Saddlebrook as it would for the town.
He added he has not had any other incidences of thefts from the Saddlebrook community come across his desk.
Devin Gillingham of Okotoks, 24, has been charged with theft under $5,000 and of unsafe storage of a firearm. He also has some outstanding traffic infractions.
Gillingham is scheduled to appear in Okotoks provincial court on Oct. 18.