Lights, camera - action.
That time-tested formula is apparently the answer to the compounding problem of dead bodies turning up along the western end of Colebrook Road (or, as one colleague has taken to calling it, Killbrook Road).
The lonely, unlit stretch of blacktop is no stranger to vehicles making quick stops to drop something off.
Anyone who has traversed the route with any regularity is familiar with random piles of debris littering the roadside.
Usually the detritus consists of garbage bags, grow-op residue and assorted broken pieces of furniture left to soak up the rain until City of Surrey crews show up to haul it away.
Lately, however, a different group of employees paid for by Surrey taxpayers have been the ones called in to clean up the mess left on Colebrook Road's shoulder and ditches. On three separate occasions since January, Surrey RCMP and other officials have been on the scene to remove a total of four dead bodies.
One dead body found on the side of a given road is an anomaly. Two is a coincidence. But three definitely points to a trend - and trends cannot be ignored.
With that in mind, the City of Surrey is moving to shine a bright light on the shady activity by spending $80,000 to install lights, cameras and sensors.
That's just the start of Surrey's commitment. It's a quick-fix solution that will keep on costing thanks to the electricity needed to power the lights and the human cost of monitoring the cameras and sensors.
Of course, with any luck, those costs will be defrayed by littering fines assessed to residents who are caught on tape while engaged in midnight garbage disposal runs.
What the cameras and sensors are almost guaranteed not to catch are criminals dumping bodies on the roadside. All of the attention the area has received of late, coupled with publicity about Surrey's jacked up infrastructure in response to the bodies, means only the dimmest of thugs will be making late-night drives along Colebrook Road in the foreseeable future.
Such altered behaviour patterns means the city's $80,000 is essentially wasted.
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and city staff are in a tough spot on this one. The rising body count certainly is a blow to all of the positive work done by Watts and Surrey council to clean up the city's image.
Residents who live in the area certainly don't want corpses scattered nearby and given the socioeconomic demographic of the neighbourhood, their complaints are more likely to be heard by city officials than if bodies started turning up in, oh, let's say, vacant lots in Whalley.
What's that you say? Bodies of crime victims and drug users do turn up regularly in North Surrey without extra city dollars being spent on extra lighting and cameras?
Well, good news! Once the new City Hall opens in Whalley, the city's priority list should change dramatically.
But I digress. So with bad optics on the public relations front, angry residents burning up the phone lines and no arrests in connection to the four Colebrook Road bodies, Watts and company had to do something.
Unfortunately, instead of doing something proactive like directing the $80,000 to be spent on increased policing in the area, Watts and council took the reactive route and grasped at a cosmetic solution even though it most likely won't solve anything.
When you squeeze a balloon, the air in the area where pressure is applied does not disappear. It simply moves along the latex sleeve until it pops up somewhere else - often larger and more obvious than before.
And if Colebrook Road is no longer hospitable for illegal activities, Surrey has numerous other lovely alternatives.
If bad guys are looking to dump a body or engage in illicit undertakings, Surrey is almost custom made for their activities. Roughly 60 per cent of the city is designated as Agricultural Land Reserve, which translates into umpteen dozen unlit strips of roadway scattered across the map.
Highways 1 and 99 also cut across the city and that results in numerous dead end roads where nasty liaisons can take place far from prying eyes of residents or police.
If the west end of Colebrook Road is no longer hospitable to such behaviour, the east end of that same stretch of asphalt is just as desolate - not to mentions sans lights, cameras and sensors.
If anything, all the lights, cameras and sensors on Colebrook Road will do is add to the greenhouse gases hanging over the region as gang bangers and drug dealers are forced to drive a little farther before literally ditching the evidence.
Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com