Crime issues continue to plague rural areas in Alberta, including the County of Wetaskiwin and Leduc County.
Recently, a farm family from the Pigeon Lake area contacted The Pipestone Flyer to voice concerns about trespassing on their private property, including ATV users, and theft.
The family was concerned about not only strangers cutting fences and trespassing onto their farmland, but also claimed neighbours from nearby acreages were sometimes involved.
As well, the family stated the farm community was frustrated with the amount of break and enter and theft going on in the rural areas.
Cpl. Laurel Scott, RCMP K Division media relations group, stated most people should know the rules about trespassing, but there are a few things landowners can do to help themselves and police.
“You can’t go on somebody’s private property without their permission,” said Scott by phone Jan. 25. Scott said police encourage landowners to place “no trespassing” signs at all four corners of the property. This helps police by giving them the basics to lay charges.
As many landowners are aware, trespassers, including people on snowmobiles, can remove signs and cut fences. Landowners, when they place the signs, should take a photo that, ideally, has a date stamp on it to prove the sign was there.
Scott noted that if a landowner knows or suspects someone is damaging their property, such as cutting barbed wire fences, and trespassing, they should contact police. “The RCMP wants to hear from people in the community,” she said.
She stated that any information that comes in is of use to police, even though residents might not realize it.
Scott said there are many basic things people living in rural areas can do to prevent crime. A built in alarm system for buildings is an effective option. Also, simply getting a large dog that likes to bark can have the same effect.
Landowners can invest in a continuous fence around their property, with locked gates.
Yards should be well lit, as burglars like to work in the dark.
Scott advised landowners to get to know their neighbours. It can only help when landowners know who does, and doesn’t, belong in the neighbourhood.
She noted that surveillance cameras are not necessarily a deterrent, but can provide valuable evidence later for police.
Don’t leave your property unattended if you’re away for long periods of time. Try to make it look “lived in” by getting friends to shovel snow and pick up mail. “Neighbours looking out for neighbours is a good thing,” said Scott, adding that rural crime groups also act as great resources.