By Michael Schmidt
All seems good in the country. People enjoy driving on country roads, especially Concession 2 in West Grey, where apple trees, fields and green pastures are part of a landscape of rural innocence. Kids bike to a little country school, people strolling, walking and jogging in the fresh country air, dogs barking, coyotes howling at night and roosters announce the beginning of a new day.
That changed on July 25th, when we discovered a strange little box mounted on a little apple tree a half mile south of Glencolton Farms. It was a rather creepy discovery and it got even more creepy when, two days later, we discovered yet another box a few hundred yards north of the farm.
As we looked into the boxes we discovered cameras and in the camera a memory card. A total of 79,994 pictures of cars, licence plates, farmers on tractors, people on bikes, kids on cell phones, joggers, walkers and branches swaying in the wind. Pictures taken during the day and night. After all, these cameras are described as “high performance surveillance tools” coming from the United States , no dealer apparently carries them in Canada.
As concerned neighbours got together to figure out what needs to happen next, more stories about strange occurances on Concession 2 emerged. About six weeks prior to the discovery of these cameras one neighbour down the road described how a white Government vehicle parked every evening across the road. Sometimes also police. When they finally went over to see what was going on the unidentified driver responded that “he was was checking his cell phone”.
Another neighbour saw a red car sitting for hours during the early afternoon with a young man inside doing “nothing” right across where the second camera was found.
Another strange occurrence was the discovery of a device which looked like a sunflower right across the road of one of the cameras, but this sunflower never followed the sun as “real sunflowers” do. Around the time the cameras where discovered the strange sunflower disappeared and he could not investigate what this was all about.
Strange cars were seen driving several times past the farm, such as an older model silver blue Toyota Corolla with the license number BSDW 290 and then speeding off with 120 km an hour racing through a stop sign and disappearing quickly.
It feels like life has changed in the country. Every bush in the ditch is now suspicious, every car driving down the road is watched with eagle eyes. When the dog barks in the middle of the night it’s not anymore because of a skunk or a raccoon it must be because somebody is changing memory cards or installing cameras.
A sense of due diligence emerged. We need to call police to ask for advise and help. What if a pedophile tracks our kids??
What if somebody wants to track when different people are at home or not, in order to break into premises???
What if somebody is stalking some of the beautiful women living on Concession 2?
I called chief of police Rene Berger and asked him for advice explaining the discovery of these cameras and what to do. I specifically asked him if West Grey Police installed surveillance monitoring people growing marijuana in neighbouring fields. Chief Berger responded that he was not aware of any surveillance. He would know if West Grey was involved, but he would look into it.
Relieved, I let everyone know that West Grey Police would help us to solve the mystery.
Like many times before, I WAS WRONG The dynamic changed suddenly. A phone call from West Grey police detective Ken, who arrived at the farm with the message that he found the owner. I was not home and he left a message requesting I phone him. He then was gone for a week until finally we connected on the phone.
“Hi Michael, Ken here, from West Grey Police, can I pick up the cameras?”
I responded that I was not in possession of them, and they had been handed over to a lawyer for safekeeping until we have a clear answer about the circumstances why Concession 2 citizens have been under surveillance.
“Oh” says Ken, “these are just trail cameras.”
“Pardon me?” I said. “These are not trail cameras or at least not set up as trail cameras, these cameras are capturing traffic on the road”.
Well the tone suddenly changed and Ken turned into a policeman trying to scare me.
“You might be charged with theft if you are not returning the cameras and the lawyer who keeps the cameras will be in trouble too.”
Wow…… Suddenly we have become the offenders.
Considering that this might just be Ken, the detective, having a bad day I called the chief trying to complain about Ken’s rather hostile response. I guess I hit a hornets nest, the chief repeated the same line of possible charges of theft. I argued with him that they would have a hard time charging me since I never confessed to taking the cameras, though I did find them, but there had been several people involved recovering the surveillance equipment.
“NO”, he said, you did say you took them. I responded by telling him that I have been often enough in court to know what is required as evidence to charge and convict somebody.
That was the end of our conversation.
I never had issues with West Grey Police. They have been helpful before, even when there have been raids on our farm and they took part to secure the premise. They always acted highly professionally, friendly but firm and respectful. The aftertaste of my conversation with Police Chief Berger was not good.
I was actually sad to realize that their “COMMUNITY PARTNERS” quote written on every cruiser is as meaningless as a teat on a bull.
Considering the impact for the community at large, this breach of trust has created a real sense of betrayal. The found cameras are only a small portion of the growing mistrust, at is the dubious behaviour of West Grey Police which creates this sense of betrayal.
Yes, they are protecting the privacy of the stalker, predator or pedophile under the Privacy Act and throw the right of everyone else’s privacy into the ditch.
Watch out parents when your kids bike to the school!
Watch out walkers you are on candid camera!
Watch out joggers you are watched day and night!
Watch out bikers you tracked pedal by pedal!
Watch out farmers somebody is wanting to know if you bale hay before you cut it!
Watch out BIG BROTHER we now watching YOU
Things are not good anymore in this part of the country.
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