On January 22, 2016, Tineke Kraal was sentenced to three years probation and 150 community service hours for sabotaging North Vancouver trails. Ms Kraal pleaded guilty to a count of mischief rendering property dangerous, useless or inoperative. She initially faced three more serious charges but those charges were dropped in favour of her guilty plea.
The count on which Ms Kraal was convicted had a maximum penalty of 240 hours. Given the conviction and her sentence Ms Kraal will have a criminal record. According to an account from NSMB.com
the Kraals also had to mortgage her house to pay for defence counsel (criminal defence attorneys don't come cheap).
In an interesting twist the judge cited the many threats that Ms Kraal had received were mitigating factors in the sentencing process leading to a sentence reduced from maximum. The judge found some of the comments noteworthy enough (including death threats, threats to her dog) to read them out in the courtroom.
Video of Tineke Kraal caught on video laying traps.
The news that a 64 year old woman was arrested by local North Vancouver RCMP for sabotaging trails spread like wildfire picked up by Pinkbike
, (and see the RCMP news release
) as well as local and national Canadian media outlets.
Reaction by many readers shows that there might be a need for more context/background behind this recent incident of trail sabotage. Having the Pinkbike pulpit and many years of trail advocacy in North Vancouver as a founder of the NSMBA in the late 90s (and assisting in other areas in the Sea to Sky
) corridor, I'd also like to use this venue to preach a bit of tolerance and patience. This article is also an opportunity to explain game cameras to the readers and to urge you to involve authorities if at all possible when you have to deal with trail sabotage.This is just one log placed on Skull.Now imagine many logs piled on the trail on blind corners; at the bottom of rollovers, at the bottom of steep runouts. This was actually not on Skull but from another trail higher on the mountain sabotaged with a a chainsaw. Not very nice OUR COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITY
Before starting on this article I'd like to include this gem of wisdom from the often - disparaged Pinkbike comments
If this is TL: DR then let me summarize. Let's try to rise above this. There are enemies of mountain biking. One of them has been caught red-handed. The right process for them is the legal system. Let's try to be better than them. This one is from @HpSauce
"To the Lower Mainland Mountain Bike community:
I am pleased that this woman has (allegedly) acted so childishly, selfishly & dangerously. And that she got caught doing it. She has done more than we ever could to lower the public credibility of anti-mountain bikers & make them look silly.
Where she has acted childishly, selfishly & dangerously. The mountain bikers have united & organized to maintain & improve the trails in the community for everyone. Two of our peers have spent countless hours patiently gathering information so that she could be brought to justice, legally.
If / When her name is released on Feb 4th, DO NOT ruin the work of everyone above by stooping to her level.
If eggs are thrown, threats are levelled & rude acts are made towards her, it will only serve to justify her actions in "their" minds and confirm to "them" that mountain bikers are hooligans. We are not.
When her name is released, make sure it is spread far and wide so that all of the city, including her colleagues, friends & family know how selfish and dangerously she acted. But do it with class.
Stay classy. We are better than she is.
The saboteur was laying logs, rocks and debris on the Lower Skull
trails. These trails are located on the lower part of Fromme; one of three of the main riding areas of the North Shore. Skull
was designated expert level (ie double black
) and mountain-bike primary as part of the local municipalities trail study and adopted into the trail system as a sanctioned trail in the mid 2000s. While this means that any one can use this trail, the MTB-primary designation is a warning to other users to expect bikers descending the trail. Quarry
was designated as multi-use and as an advanced trail (black
). Being multi-use bikers on Quarry are expected to follow standard rules of use in respect of giving way to other users.
Skull is actively maintained by Steed Cycles (with the burly Digger) under the NSMBA's TAP program
and ridden a fair amount. It was a bike trail since its inception (built by Digger in the late 90s
) and always maintained by bikers. Quarry's origins are unknown but it was likely a neighbourhood trail used mostly by dog-walkers, hikers and bikers.
It's important to note that tensions between user groups on the North Shore are rare. In itself that's remarkable because this is a big city. The last time there was an active trail saboteur on a major scale was in the late 90s in West Vancouver when a plastic surgeon living in the area was less than happy with sharing trails and indulged in scattering debris over, around and on trails. Of course, there are periodic nuisance acts which occur usually coincident during the school summer holidays. Of note some form of sabotage-lite has been happening since the 2005-6 years in the lower Fromme area. My friends and I hike and bike in that area and have come to refer to the unknown person doing this as the "trail a**hole
". Small pieces of debris are scattered over the trail in places designed to annoy; in sizes small enough to walk or bunny hop over. However around August of 2014 things changed. The pieces of debris got bigger and bigger. The "trail a**hole
" expanded from one area to Skull, a purpose built downhill bike trail. Other things were happening too not just in the adjacent area but on other areas on the North Shore in an ongoing pattern of consistent anti-social behaviour directed at hiking trails and at other forms of outdoor recreation
However, by far the most sabotage was occurring on the Skull trail. MTB Trails
(publisher of the North Shore and Fraser Valley Guide books
) summarized 19 incidents of trail blockage on Skull between August 1 to November 19
cleared either by themselves or by other riders. Anecdotal reports are that these incidences continued persistently all the way through the holiday season into the new year.
There was a tremendous amount of chatter on internet bulletin boards but almost all in the typically armchair warrior vein of "someone should do something about this
" but no-one actually doing anything. And that turns to the topics of game cams. Trailforks.comTrailforks.comGAME CAMERAS
Information was gathered by video and by picture by different parties about the saboteur's actions. Although her actions were discussed and logged extensively on open internet forums she either didn't read such forums or didn't care so indulged in a repetitive pattern of behaviour. Game cameras are used by hunters to capture images of wildlife. From a trail work perspective Jay Hoots
gives examples of game cams being used as counters, to assess user trends, for materials and tools security, for animal monitoring and for weather watching. It turns out that they also have uses by trail users for catching people in the act of perpetrating crimes. .
This is a site for internet bike nerds who love to moan about wheel sizes and enduro lingerie and not about game cams so I won't dwell long on this topic of game cam geek specs and instead checked with a friend who runs a hunting site
and who mentioned the Bushnell cams
and the Stealth Cams
as being particularly useful. Neither are particularly cheap but they are effective. They are weather proof and their batteries last for weeks as they draw very little current. If you have more questions ask in the comments and I'll enlist a game cam geek to try to answer.left: Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam - approx $ 200 CAD; right Stealth Cam - approx $189
None of the parties who installed the game cams, obtained the footage and turned the footage over to the law enforcement authorities were particularly keen on being publicly named, citing concerns about the mental stability of the saboteur they were targeting. Understandable. They did give me some sample footage produced by the game cams and some recommendations on what to in obtaining the footage and documenting same in a useable format. Recommendations are as follows:
1. Position the camera high.
You can stand on a bike's top tube or the shoulders of a friend to get the camera high enough that it's hard to take down or to damage the camera. The game cam is less likely to be seen if it's higher. It's pretty stunning how oblivious people are to things not in their direct line of vision so just move the cam up a bit and it'll be practically invisible.
2. Buy a lock.
Some of these game cams can be locked. Even if the game cam is whacked with a stick or object and dislodged/damaged hopefully the case is sturdy enough to protect the camera and the storage media. Sure locks can be broken but the lock is just another deterrent for the saboteur.
3. Practise positioning
. You can use sticks or other material to orient the camera the right way. Most of the cameras take SD cards which can be read in other cameras or a small tablet on-site. That's the best way to ensure you have a good position before deploying the camera.
4. Get two cameras
. If you're particularly motivated it's a nice idea to have one cam pointing at the other cam. Or you can put one cam in an obvious spot and the other cam more well hidden. Of course that means doubling up on a pretty substantial cost but do you want to catch this person or do you want to just talk about it?
5. Keep it quiet
. The parties who got the game cams didn't talk about it on internet bulletin boards. They didn't posture about what they would do. They bought the cams and put them up. They got the footage and they delivered it to law enforcement in a coordinated tidy package. If you spray about where and what you're going to do to police your trails then hey maybe you get more LIKES or PROPS but, at the same time, all you do is alert the perpetrator thus defeating the purpose. Fortunately, in this situation, the trail saboteur in question probably doesn't read internet bulletin boards.
6. Document everything
. Log the dates and times when the trail sabotage is occurring. Take pictures of the sabotage (the pics and video will be date and time stamped but you have to set that correctly in the cams
). Tag the most relevant footage. Keep a solid electronic or paper trail of what you're doing so when you take the next step of involving law enforcement you will be more likely to be taken seriously.
7. Include some video if possible
. Sometimes in a photo it's hard to know if the debris or obstacle is being removed or placed. The video takes away all doubt.Early morning dark photoDaytime photoVideo footageWORKING WITH AUTHORITIES
It's my recommendation to involve the authorities on this. Vigilante justice is all very well for but in the long term may do more harm than good. Pinkbike is an international, diverse forum and I've come to hear and understand that the biking community is perhaps not as well respected in other countries as it is in British Columbia. But we didn't have it this good all the time. When I was involved in starting the NSMBA in the late 90s we were still viewed basically as kids, as crazies in the woods, riding these insane trails in some kind of anti-social fashion. It's been a long, hard, patient road but we've now come to a point that local governments do take us seriously as careful stewards of our trails and the police do listen and work with us when there's extensive bike thefts
. If it can work for us it can (and will
) work for you.
While every situation is different, in our local milieu we created a situation where the North Vancouver RCMP took this case seriously. When the parties who got the game cam footage approached law enforcement the police were receptive. I can only speculate as to the reasons why but I'm sure the care with which evidence was compiled and presented probably presents a favourable argument for taking the trail sabotage situation seriously.
The saboteurs first court date is on February 4th. It will likely be a formality; an initial appearance
. In this appearance the saboteurs's identity will be divulged. I'll close with the sentiment again to urge that mountain bikers hold themselves to a high standard. We are passionate about biking. Some of us are also passionate about building. In my opinion people like the saboteur are to be pitied. We are better than them. We want to do the right things the right way. Let's have the patience to let justice prevail. Hold off on the chest-thumping and dumb comments.
Thanks for listening,Chill