Frustrating levels of property crimes is an issue facing rural and urban-centered Albertans alike.
Wetaskiwin RCMP Insp. Keith Durance and Thorsby/Breton Sgt. Corey Kyle both gave statistical presentations to County of Wetaskiwin councillors during their July 18 meeting.
“Statistically we’re looking in pretty good shape,” said Durance. “Most crime types are trending down.”
However, Durance says theft of motor vehicles and drug enforcement trafficking are trending up.
Coun. Larry McKeever says he is concerned those committing property crimes are growing more and more bold.
Durance says many prolific offenders are based in larger cities such as Edmonton, and that enforcement officers and rural crime watch volunteers need to keep the pressure on to drive them from the area. “They are getting more brazen.”
“Firearms are prolific,” he added.
Durance says there have been cases of vigilante action, and added, unless in self defence, violence from home and landowners is not the proper course of action.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says landowners are becoming more frustrated each time an offender is released from custody and returns to the community. “It’s getting scary.”
The Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment operates a one-officer property crime reduction team to target prolific offenders. Durance says he is looking at moving more resources from the office onto the team.
During his presentation, Durance also briefly walked councillors through the detachment’s Annual Performance Plan, which operates with four main goals as the focus: police/community relationships, safe streets-impaired driving, crime reduction-homelessness/vagrancy and crime reduction-property crime.
Durrance recently took over former Insp. Fran Bethell’s position at the detachment. Durance is a 27-year veteran of the RCMP and is familiar with the Wetaskiwin/Maskwacis/Ponoka area.
Sgt. Kyle agreed putting pressure on prolific offenders residing in communities is a strategy his department also employs. Under the detachment’s Annual Performance Plan 208 compliance checks had been completed as of July 18, exceeding the 2016/17 target.
Annual crime numbers reflect a significant reduction in assaults, theft of motor vehicles, theft under $5,000 and mischief to property.
Kyle also informed councillors the Thorsby/Breton detachment has been receiving calls complaining about RVs under a County of Wetaskiwin bylaw.
“We’re getting a number of issues around Mulhurst,” said Kyle. “I really don’t know the solution.”