There’s a scourge running through central Alberta and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.
Petty crimes — such as stealing items from vehicles, getting into yards or homes or garages to grab small items like tools or taking a purse or wallet — seem to be reaching levels that would make the water from Hurricane Harvey look like a mud puddle.
The growth in what police call ‘property crime’ has continued to climb in the Bashaw and Ponoka regions and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
RCMP in both areas attribute the majority of this increase to a pair of reasons — trying to pay for a substance abuse addiction or looking to get an easy payoff.
Most of the people committing these offenses are also not from the community, but have made their way from bigger centres or came in hopes of ‘making a living’ before heading back home before winter starts.
This kind of stuff happens all the time in large urban centres, but barely raises an ire. The problem comes in smaller and rural places where people have basically grown up to trust people and haven’t adjusted to this ‘new normal.’
The easy solution is for people to do the simple things — make it difficult by locking doors and vehicles, not leave anything of potential value in plain view, don’t advertise being away either through social media and make the home or property look like someone is there.
In fact, I really like what Bashaw RCMP Sgt. Bruce Holliday has expressed about the situation over the past few months.
“With more thefts involving vehicles and fuel, rural residents have got to work with us. Most rural residents are good, trusting people, but the bad guys from larger centres know this and that’s why crimes like this are increasing. People do not lock up their sheds, homes, fuel tanks or leave the keys in the vehicles and the bad guys know this. They are targeting those good trusting people, but this is 2017 and people need to change how they operate and how they think,” he has stated.
Another thing people living in smaller towns and more rural areas can do is be proactive — by recognizing and reporting suspicious activity or vehicles.
Both Ponoka and Bashaw RCMP want this to happen more often because, as Sgt. Holliday has said in the past, “If we — the police — don’t know about it, then we can’t solve it. The onus is on the people to report it and then we have a better chance at stopping it.”
So in order to put a stop to this kind of activity, the community as a whole has to take responsibility and do the simple things. In addition, people could support initiatives such as neighbourhood watch, rural crime watch and Citizens on Patrol.
Because once it becomes more difficult and time-consuming, the criminals tend to move on and that means it’s safer for everyone.
The devastation, pain, suffering and loss seen lately in many regions is simply gutwrenching.
From the enormous flood waters from Hurricane Harvey to the destruction in the southern U.S. and Caribbean islands from Hurricane Irma to the absolute carnage and calamity left in the wake of the ravaging wildfires across North America, one can only imagine what those people are going through.
Take some time to think about what you need to do to prepare for an emergency, since first responders may not always be able to get to you for a while.
But that is…just an observation.