By Bruce Corcoran
Someone has been trying to break into the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village, and they’ve left behind their DNA.
That according to Barb Lovell, executive director for the village.
Twice in the past seven days, someone has attempted to break into one of the buildings at the village, which is located on CM Wilson Conservation Area property.
The most recent effort took place Sunday, and it caught someone’s attention.
“About 5:30 p.m., a gentleman happened to be out there for a walk and happened upon a guy trying to smash a window,” Barb Lovell, executive director of the village, said. “He left some DNA for us, so we’re happy about that. This was a grown man. He had been banging on the windows. This is in broad daylight.”
She said it’s been frustrating, as there have been multiple attempts to gain entry. Normally, there are summer camp programs and even Chatham-Kent police Cop Camp events out there at this time of the year. But with COVID-19 restrictions in place, those aren’t occurring.
Lovell said people are still regularly on site, and staff have opted to open up the grounds to the general public, encouraging families to come out and have kids ride their bikes along the faux streets, or just go for a walk.
Unfortunately, it’s not just families who have popped by.
“You just get so frustrated,” Lovell said of the break-in attempts. “Most recently, it was twice in the one week. Same building, different window.”
Lovells said the building is where the village staff store bicycles and has an ATV simulator.
“It’s not just vandalism. There’s an intent to steal,” she said.
The rear window of an on-site school bus was smashed, and entry has been attempted at a number of buildings on the property.
“We just got a new security system put in and then this happened,” Lovell said, while out shopping for additional security cameras. “Covering five acres is really hard. That’s one reason we invited the public to come out during the day; people walking with their dogs or their kids. But if this is the new normal, we can’t spend all of our funds making repairs.”
Lovell said Chatham-Kent police have been great in terms of rapid response and regular patrols through the safety village.
But even with the added family foot traffic, she wonders what she’ll have to do.
“We’re considering fencing. We need lighting in the back. All of this costs money,” she said.
Lovell added the village is looking to set up a GoFundMe page to take donations to help offset the costs.