PENTICTON — A frustrated Penticton homeowner says she resorted to defending herself with a stick, Monday, after a police dispatcher hung up on her.
In the weeks leading up to the incident, Anita Albers explained, she and several neighbours noticed a man casing the alley in their Eckhardt Avenue-area neighbourhood with a golf club in hand and bags of stolen items.
“There was bike parts (in the alley), there were backpacks, flashlights like they had been casing cars, and within a few weeks of that, I was finding more stolen items down the alley,” she said.
When Albers and the neighbours phoned police, Albers said, she received a call back later that night saying the man had been “dealt with.”
However, “The guy was there for two more days. They never dealt with him,” said Albers.
During her interview with The Herald, Wednesday, Albers showed off approximately 25 needle disposal boxes littering another neighbour’s property along the alley.
This past Monday evening, Albers’ 93-year-old neighbour noticed two people hanging around the yard of a property next door and assumed they were new neighbours.
The 93-year-old decided to stop by and introduce herself, not knowing it was the same man of interest and his girlfriend squatting on the property.
Albers’ neighbour quickly alerted her to what was happening, and that, said Albers, triggered the incident that left her fearful for her life.
When Albers went over to begin taking photos, the man suddenly appeared.
“I said, ‘Is this your stuff?’ and he said, ‘Uh, it belongs to a friend.’ “I said, ‘But you’re not staying here, right? You’re moving on? You’re not staying here tonight.’”
The man mumbled in response, said Albers, and walked away.
Albers and her neighbour retreated to Albers’ property, where they phoned the RCMP’s non-emergency line.
“I let them know there was stolen items, there was drug bags, there was paraphernalia, these people were squatting and we waited for the police to come. No police came.”
After an hour of waiting, Albers phoned the non-emergency line again to follow up.
The dispatcher “said an officer attended and moved them on,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Nobody attended, we’ve been here the entire time.’”
Several minutes later, the man reappeared in the alley across from Albers’ home.
“I grabbed a stick, because I was feeling kind of threatened,” continued Albers. “I tell this guy to ‘get the f**k out of here, to f**k off, this isn’t your neighbourhood, you don’t f**king belong here.’ I’ve never used so many F words in my life, in front of my kids.”
When the man wouldn’t budge, Albers said, she phoned 911.
“The (dispatcher) said to me, ‘We’re busy, we’re not coming out for a few vagrants.’ I said, ‘Fine, I’ll deal with it myself,’ and he said, ‘You do that’ and hung up,” Albers recalled.
Her neighbour quickly separated Albers from the man, who left.
RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager declined to comment on the specifics of Albers’ case, but alluded to it being bumped aside by other matters.
“There were a bunch of priority cases going on at that time,” De Jager said in an interview Wednesday.
“The dispatcher, I guess he’s correct (but) I wouldn’t say we don’t have time. Of course we have time to answer calls for service, that’s our whole mandate and we would always do that.”
But the superintendent noted he takes reports of dispatcher hanging up on people with a grain of salt.
“Not for this specific incident, but I’ll tell you in general, whenever I do those reviews, I find there’s always two sides to the story,” said De Jager.
He did, however, encourage people to call 911 if there is trouble, and acknowledged “people are frustrated with crime and with things that are happening.”