Waterloo Regional Police are following footprints in the snow, looking for evidence in a New Year’s Eve fire and a rash of break-ins at a West Montrose trailer park.
Around 6 a.m. on Dec. 31, Woolwich firefighters were called to the West Montrose Family Campground on Line 86 for reports of a structure fire. After extinguishing the flames at the scene, authorities noted that 14 other trailers had either been damaged by vandals, or broken into.
Staff Sgt. Mike Haffner said there were footprints in the snow that lead police to believe all 15 incidents are related.
“There appears to be footprints from the pumping station (at the campground) where it looks like a vehicle was parked, two sets of footprints come into the campgrounds and whether it be damage or rummaging through, 14 unoccupied trailers. There is nothing to say that they are absolutely related, but the footprints led from trailer to trailer and to the area that there was the fire. We believe that they are associated,” he said, adding other properties were damaged by the fire. “Authorities found one of the trailers engulfed in flames. There was damage to the two neighbouring trailers as well. They are close together.”The campground is currently closed for the winter, leaving most of the trailers empty for months at a time, something of a fortunate circumstance, Haffer noted.
“I understand that there are certain trailers there where people live year-round, but the 14 that we have found to be damaged were all unoccupied, and even the one that was on fire, and the two that were damaged beside it, were all unoccupied as well. That is a good thing, but it is still a bad way to end the year, and start the new year,” he said.
He says the police are looking to the public for a helping hand in solving the case around the break-ins, the vandalism, and the fire, which completely destroyed a trailer.
“We are just asking anyone with information, or who may know who is involved in this, to call police,” he said, adding that properties with part-time residents could be a bigger target for criminals. “ It is one of those things where people need to take the necessary measure to protect their property, but it just unfortunate. If they have someone in the area that can check on the property, especially if it is a vacation property, that would be ideal. It is one of those things, though. You don’t want to secure it like Fort Knox, because you still want to be able to enjoy your property. You can board up all the windows and you can put a concrete wall around it, but that isn’t realistic.”
Anyone with information on the fire or the damage done to the other 14 trailers, can call the WRPS non-emergency line at (519) 653-7700 in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. For all other areas dial (519) 570-3000.