Farming brothers witness theft and end up in a car chase

WINNIPEG — A family of farmers is calling for a crackdown on crime in rural Manitoba after they said they caught a theft in progress, and ended up in a car chase.

The incident on Thursday morning has fourth generation dairy farmers Mitch and Mark Simon questioning the safety of their community of Rathwell, Man., a small rural municipality about 125 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Mitch said he was checking on the cows around 4 a.m. Thursday when he found someone trying to steal diesel fuel.

“In a panic, they saw me, they flicked on their lights and took off,” Mitch told CTV News. “I chased them out of the yard, chased them through Rathwell.”

Mitch said the stolen tanker spilled fuel onto the street as the thieves fled.

Mitch said he called his brother, then 911, and the Simon brothers continued to chase the thieves in their vehicles.

“I ended up hitting the ditch,” Mark said. “Just as I was making my way back out with the truck, they ran me back into the ditch.”

Richard Simon, the youngest of the Simon brothers, is the owner of White Gold Dairy. He said his family farm has experienced trespassing and arson in the past.

“We saw a man walk out, walk up to our straw bales and just light up a match,” Richard said.

Mark said they make insurance claims, but their premiums are going up and they question if it’s worth it.

He said he worries about the safety of his family, adding the closest RCMP detachment in Treherne isn’t open very often.

The RCMP Treherne detachment’s hours of operation are from Monday to Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Simon brothers believe those hours are part of the reason their farms are vulnerable to crime.

CTV News reached out to RCMP on Monday morning, but has not heard back.