Fewer police vehicles will patrol the streets at night in Springhill after someone stole the department's SUV and submerged it in a lake near Wyvern. Police are calling the incident a personal attack. Photo submitted by Tony Somers
SPRINGHILL - Police here say someone had it out for them when one of their vehicles was stolen over the weekend and dumped in Simpson's Lake near Wyvern.
"This was an attack on the police department by the criminal element," Springhill Police Chief Gary Copeland said. "But not only that, it was an attack on the community and the taxpayers who paid for it."
During the late hours of Friday evening, officers discovered the vehicle was missing from the parking lot of the station on the corner of Main and Church streets. Shortly thereafter the hunt was on for the missing SUV.
"Staff took it very personally," said Copeland. "Everybody, and I mean all staff, were out looking for it."
Picking up the trail of the SUV, one staff member arrived at Simpson's Lake to find the SUV with its lights damaged and the back windows broken, submerged beneath the water. Copeland gave little optimism the vehicle is salvageable.
"The vehicle wasn't physically beat up but it was submerged in the water and from what I know the water destroys everything electrical. It makes it unusable."
The vehicle, Copeland estimated, was in the water for at least six hours from when it was dumped to when it could finally be recovered.
Police now feel they are closing in on the suspect or suspects.
"We've really good leads and the investigation is being conducted in a rigorous manner."
The theft of the police vehicle is the first case of the criminal element retaliating against Springhill Police in many, many years, Copeland said. At that time personal property belonging to some officers was damaged and personal vehicles had their tires slashed. Copeland is hoping to have the same outcome from those days.
Now short one vehicle, Copeland hopes residents understand the impact the loss will have on the community. Those vehicles, Copeland says, are not always parked at the station.
"We're out patrolling at night. We're not just looking for crime; we're looking for fires and public safety when they're in bed. If we drive by and see a strange orange glow in the window we're going to find out if there's a problem."
Springhill police have caught a number of fires during their late night patrols, and on separate occasions Copeland and former Springhill Police officer, now Cumberland South MLA, Murray Scott entered house fires to rescue the occupants being the first persons on the scene.
Contrary to popular rumour, Copeland said, the vehicle was in park and not left running. Just how the perpetrator started the vehicle will be a focus of the investigation.