The M.D. of Bonnyville has launched a new Rural Crime Prevention Program to combat the escalating problem of rural crime and theft with a new, specific focus.
Peace officers are hosting open houses in La Corey, Goodridge, and Beaverdam over the next two weeks to present the methods of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), and to allow citizens to apply for a property safety assessment.
“The goals of CPTED are to reduce the opportunity for crime to happen, and to allow people to enjoy their space without having to make it look like Fort Knox,” said Daniel Hansen, a peace officer in the M.D. of Bonnyville.
In March, Hansen along with his colleagues took a week-long courseon CPTED in Edmonton, and it’s the same strategies they employ in large cities.
CPTED centers on the understanding that most criminals want to act without being noticed, so they go to secluded or isolated areas. The design of your home influences whether a thief may try to steal from your property, says Hansen.
“If you have pride in your house then someone is going to notice that when they go by. If they think that you won’t care if something goes missing or not, then they’re gonna take your lawn mower from you,” said Hansen.
The five strategies of CPTED are natural surveillance, access control, territoriality, maintenance, and lighting. They can be applied to rural homes, and existing communities as well.
Simple measures that Hansen suggests “deters criminals” is keeping up with your yard work, and maintaining a sense of ownership in the home. A good maintenance strategy impacts the fear of crime.
Controlling how people can enter and exit a property is essential as well, since people who use alternate methods will look suspicious. This strategy suggests using walkways, flower beds, and bushes to show a natural indication of where people are allowed to be.
Lighting is one of the most effective crime deterrents too. Light discourages criminal activity, and helps the first principle of CPTED: natural surveillance. If you have surveillance cameras installed on your property, proper lighting will help you get a clear image of the intruder that’s needed for the courts.
Another method the program suggests is inscribing your smaller belongings with an ID number, so if your property is stolen it can be tracked down more easily. The M.D. has purchased engravers and are offering them to the public to be signed out.
The MD is also offering property assessments, vacant home checks, and additional patrols. The property assessments have peace officers come to the house directly, then they write a report and return with recommendations on how to make your property safer.
So far, Hansen has done 10 assessments. He says that even details that seem small can make a big improvement.
“It’s as little as changing the screws in your door frame. If you go from a one-and-a-half inch screw in the doorframe where the bolt goes in to a three inch screw – it’s ten times less likely that the person will kick your door in, no matter how hard they try,” said Hansen.
The next CPTED Open House is Wednesday in Willow Prairie (La Corey) at 7:00pm. That’s followed by Goodridge on June 12, and Beaverdam on June 14.