“It was that Thursday when it was snowing”, describes Tully Johnson, President of the Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch and Range Patrol. “They brought a B-Train truck (large grain truck that consists of two trailers linked together by a fifth wheel) coming south on 822 (highway east of Wetaskiwin) at 7:30 am. There was a half-ton truck following, pulling an auger. They must have scouted it out because the farmer had just plowed around his grain bins the day before.”
A truck load of grain was stolen from a farm S.E. of Wetaskiwin in the community of Angus Ridge right in the midst of the Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch region. “We got a fax on it and sent it out that day”, explains Tully. When there is a crime reported in the Rosebrier region, the RCMP send a fax to the Crime Watch office and an alert about the crime is ‘fanned’ out to all the members by phone. “When we do a fan out we don’t use anyone’s name, just the land location (of the scene of the crime). Following the fan out, we got a description of the truck from our members that was then distributed to the RCMP detachments. They found a truck fitting the description but learned they had a ‘similar’ truck, not the one used in the theft.”
The Angus Ridge Community Hall S.E. of Wetaskiwin was the venue for the AGM of the Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch and Range Patrol on April 2nd, 2013. The organization had been undergoing a serious decline in interest until the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012 when the community experienced a rash of break-ins and thefts. Membership spiked. Tully explained the renewed interest. “Since all the crimes that started in September (2011) we have had a lot of interest. People phone and want to join but many don’t know really what Crime Watch consists of so that’s another thing we got to explain to them; that we are the eyes and the ears of the RCMP. We have roughly 100 members and some prospects and they will sign up. The crime rate has gone down, say 80% since last year when the RCMP started really patrolling the roads.”
The Rosebrier Crime watch was started in 1984, “by Dawne Gilchrist and two other founding members and me” said Tully Johnson. The Rosebrier Crime Watch covers the S.E. portion of Division One in the County of Wetaskiwin, bordering on Ponoka, Camrose, Highway13 and Wetaskiwin. They are a member of the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association that, “will strive to promote rural crime prevention through communication, programs and fund raising.” There are 57 Crime Watch Associations in Alberta with 7500 crime watch members.
During the AGM Tully clarified, “When we held our last AGM (2012) everyone was elected for 3 years and if they wanted to leave the Board they would have to send me a letter. Two more years to go. But I want to stress how important Rural Crime Watch is. My objective for this year is to get everybody signed up and get their (well-known, bright yellow) Crime Watch signs at their gates. Soon it is spring and these guys (thieves) are like gophers and start moving around.”
Tully and the RCMP liaison officers stressed the value of participation of the local residents and also stressed the importance of taking more caution. Take your keys out of vehicles and equipment; lock them; don’t provide easy access to contents such as tools and other items that are easy to pawn; leave your lights on at night; don’t leave guns in barns even if they are in locked cabinets. Tully stressed the importance of the residents being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the RCMP.
The Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch has reached a very aggressive goal; to have at least 100 memberships and accompanying bright yellow signs visibly displayed throughout the community. Tully is adamant, “The RCMP say it is a big deterrent for people driving around the area. If they see these yellow signs they drive on down the road to the next place without a sign. The more signs out the better it is for the community. We want to be better known for what we do.”
For $20, members receive a 5 year membership and a gate sign. They also receive a numbered identification card that coincides with their application and has been approved and recorded by the RCMP. Residents can join the Rural Crime Watch by contacting Tully at (780) 352 0612 or by going to the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment and filling out an application form.