The president of a local crime watch group say the latest stats released by RCMP this week regarding rural crime in central Alberta are encouraging.
Ken Wigmore, Lacombe County Councilor and Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch President, says while stats are up in one area and down in another there is overall progress being made.
“I really do believe that people have to be more vigilant and call in more incidents to them (RCMP) so they can produce their stats and track these guys,” states Wigmore. “They do have some guests forces that work in different areas that kind of gang up on crimes, so it’s going to be down and then when they leave, it’s probably going to go up again because it seems like all the crooks move around just ahead or just behind the crime stats.”
He admits, however, there is no quick-fix to the issue.
“I think it’s going to take education and it’s going to take changes in the way people do things,” explains Wigmore. “We need to get into the schools and start training these kids at an earlier age that this is not a good way to go and having these injection sites opening up in Red Deer and different towns, I don’t think is going to help us. It might help the guys that are on drugs but in the long run, I’m not sure that it’s going to help the overall stats.”
He says criminals are now using different tactics like using quads and cutting fences.
“We were busy watching the roads but now they’re going in the backyards,” says Wigmore. “A lot of people don’t call in, they get tired of waiting on the phone but we’re working on that to get something in place so that we don’t have to wait on the phones when we call in. The RCMP have set up a call-back system so if you call in and it’s not a dire emergency, they’re logging that now and tracking the criminals so if you log onto the website, they’re posting where the ‘hot’ areas are for Alberta.”
Like their urban counterparts, he reiterates the most important thing for rural people to do is report all crime and suspicious activity in their area.
“We are just starting to work with Lacombe Police on our rural crime watch, they do attend our meetings,” says Wigmore. “They’re connected on a fan-out system so we’re just starting in with that but we have not talked to the City of Red Deer RCMP at all, we’ve basically been working with the rural detachments and we have very good rapport with all the rural detachments. Will we work with the City of Red Deer in the future? I imagine we will.”
Statistics released September 4 tracking the performance of the RCMP’s Crime Reduction Strategy over its first six months, show the seven-point action plan is working.
Alberta RCMP report there were 648 fewer motor vehicle thefts in the province this year compared to last year, 366 fewer break and enters and 2,358 fewer thefts.
Other highlights include a nine per cent decrease in property crimes excluding fraud, mischief and arson in all Alberta RCMP detachments from January to July of this year compared to the same period last year.
Fraud, mischief and arson crimes have seen a decrease of 11 per cent during that time Mounties say, with rural detachments reporting a 25 per cent decrease in those crimes during the same time frame.
In addition, district-level Crime Reduction Units specializing in identifying and apprehending repeat offenders have also made an impact Mounties add, seeing over 500 arrests and 1,600 charges being laid since their launch in February of this year.
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