The extended rash of break and enters in the Wetaskiwin and Leduc area seems to have no end in sight. If you can believe the Edmonton Police Service, everything is Fort McMurray’s fault, apparently. According to EPS chief Rod Knecht, unemployed oil patch workers home from Fort Mac are generally to blame.
It’s unclear if that is actually the case; in Wetaskiwin, Millet, Leduc and surrounding areas, some of the alleged thieves have been local people, Edmonton people and even youth under the age of 18.
Break and enter is, for the most part, preventable. The more difficult a home or business is to break into, the more likely the thief will move on to easier targets, or leave the community entirely if it becomes clear his or her job is too difficult in that particular place.
Residents who live in smaller areas are not immune to crime like break and enter. Often, professional criminals from Edmonton (or Fort McMurray, if you agree with Knecht) are not averse to cruising rural areas or smaller centres where residents may see less crime, and are thus a bit more complacent.
Home and business owners should ensure doors and windows are properly secured, with strong locks. Business owners with large windows should seriously consider bars. Video surveillance is useful in identifying and perhaps prosecuting culprits who are caught. Homes and businesses should be well-lit, as doors and windows are even more difficult to enter if everyone can see the culprit at work.
Crime Stoppers has some excellent advice on their website:
Lock your doors and secure any open windows prior to retiring for the evening.
Borrow or buy an engraver to mark your valuable belongings. This may discourage theft of valuables and will provide an easy way to identify stolen property. Use a personal identification mark such as your driver’s license number when engraving your property. For deterrent purposes, the identification marks should be easily identifiable.
Record the contents of your home or cottage on paper or using a video camera. Record the serial numbers of your property. Remove expensive articles from your secondary home or cottage when away for extended periods of time.
Don’t leave articles out, such as axes and tools that could be used to assist in breaking into your residence.
Establish relationships with neighbours and check on each other’s property when away.
Lock and secure your property and outside belongings.
Invest in an alarm system; signage from the alarm company could discourage thieves.
If you are away, make sure that your residence looks like it is occupied. Have the sidewalks shoveled, the mail collected, and the grass cut. Make use timers to have lights coming on and going off at different intervals.
Avoid posting on social media sites when you are away from your residence; you might be surprised who’s reading your posts.
Be alert in your community too. A major arrest in Leduc came about as the result of a sharp-eyed resident. Here’s more advice from Crime Stoppers:
Keep your eyes and ears open for suspicious vehicles and persons in the area of your residence. Do not confront possible suspects. Record the license numbers and description of suspicious vehicles. Record detailed descriptions of occupants of suspicious vehicles.
Report your concerns and observations immediately to the police. Provide your municipal address and your “911” number.
Make “would-be” thieves visible, install motion lights or leave an exterior light on to illuminate entranceways and rear yards.
Don’t hide keys in secret places. Instead leave a duplicate with a friend or neighbour.
If you discover a break and enter, please contact the police immediately. Do not enter your property as valuable evidence may be disturbed.
Leduc RCMP Sgt. Beth Philipp added, “The majority of these occurrences are in vehicles that are not locked and personal items are visible. They tend to be crimes of opportunity. We encourage folks to lock their vehicles and not leave any valuables in them.”