Throughout the year 2008 and already into 2009 the Ponoka News has received numerous calls from concerned business owners, schools and residents of Ponoka concerning graffiti, damages to property and stolen objects. These crimes are more than just a nuisance to the community, these acts are a violation to the town and the members in them.
On the surface it might not seem like a huge crime to vandalize or not that big of a deal, but to those who are victims, it is.
Ponoka has encountered many incidents and these always seem to happen to decent people. These local acts have happened against a single mom working two jobs, immigrants working hard to make a life for themselves and many other decent people who would love to be left alone.
The most recent act of theft and vandalism occurred the beginning of this week when members of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse came to start their day. The van that had recently been purchased to pick up members and transport them to jobs and events was stolen that morning and the ignition was punched. The theft and vandalism left members of the clubhouse disheartened and upset. The clubhouse was also vandalized twice in recent months, with broken windows, door and interior destruction. This place should be the last place that is violated because of how much they give back to the community and what they do for its members.
The clubhouse is repeatedly helping out wherever it can and it offers a place where people who are past or present consumers of mental health services can come to find fellowship, meaningful work and great opportunities and tools for living a satisfying life.
Luckily enough, the van was found the same morning and the thief was arrested, but that still doesn’t undo the emotional and financial damages.
Businesses around Ponoka generally give back to the community as well with barbecues, donations and fundraisers.
In September of 2008 there was a vandalism/theft blitz in the downtown. Windows and door fronts were shattered and cash was stolen. In some businesses the merchandise was thrown around the store. Recently, there were 18 buildings vandalized in town and coming to work and seeing that is just discouraging.
When bad things happen to good people, it is a personal attack and everyone feels for the innocent.
Ponoka has forces that have been and are on the lookout for crimes such as these. The Ponoka RCMP deals with those who have been targeted as well as searching for those who committed the act.
Also, Citizens on Patrol (COPS) works nightly and keeps an eye out for suspicious activity to report to the RCMP.
Those who are caught vandalizing can face strict consequences including huge fines, mandatory community service, or even jail time.
Ponoka, as a community can do their part to help curb vandalism in their community and stop it before it reaches them as well. It can be done by reporting vandalism or similar crimes, looking out for their neighbours and helping clean up graffiti around town. In a more active way members of Ponoka can volunteer for COPS, support the group or find their own way to crack down on vandalism by making changes to their yard, lighting etc.
Vandalism is senseless, meaningless…there is no purpose and it should not be tolerated in our community. The weak reasons may be that it is done as a result of boredom or a release of anger but there are far better ways to do that. It’s not worth facing fines and jail time and it’s definitely not worth hurting members of the community.