Property crime in the Lac Sante area is down over the course of the past 12 months according to St. Paul RCMP S/Sgt. Greg Stannard in a Facebook Live presentation to the community Feb. 17.
According to Stannard, there’s been a 13 per cent decrease in break and enters, a four per cent decrease in thefts of motor vehicles, and a 19 per cent decrease in theft under $5,000.
“Cottage and seasonal residences is one of the areas we track and it’s also dropped. In 2019, there was 19 cottage and season residence break-ins and in 2020 there was 15, so it’s either steady or a decrease in most of those areas,” said Stannard.
He said it’s important to know things aren’t as bad as we sometimes think from following crime discussions on social media.
According to Two Hills RCMP Detachment Commander Robert Daisley, who joined Stannard for the presentation, property crime in the Two Hills area is down 23 per cent.
“We are doing really good work, but at the same time COVID has happened and circumstances have changed,” said Daisley.
“We’re trending in the right direction and I think we’ve worked really hard to focus on some of the people that caused the most problems,” he said.
In response to a question about if there had been significant arrests recently or if RCMP had been able to infiltrate organized crime in the region, Daisley said their experience in St. Paul and Two Hills has been that it is largely disorganized crime causing problems.
“In our experience, people who have been arrested generally tend to be on the younger side of things, and they’re looking for quick things they can steal and sell. So that’s why we’ve had a lot of ATVs and tools go missing,” he said.
As always, the RCMP is encouraging property owners to design their properties so there are less attractive for crimes of opportunity.
Aspects of crime prevention through environmental design include maximizing visibility through removing lowhanging branches from trees and installing outdoor lighting, as well as closing gates whether you are home or not so it is not immediately obvious to someone driving by whether you are in or out.
They also recommended installing an alarm system with cameras. Daisley noted it is not foolproof and doesn’t solve everything, but having pictures of the people who were there goes a long way to help.
RCMP highlight positive changes from province
Two Hills RCMP detachment commander Robert Daisley said that while changes are sometimes slow to be seen, from his perspective there are positive things happening in policing and law enforcement in Alberta. That includes funding for a second support staff at the detachment.
Once hired, this person will put the court packages together enabling the members to spend more time on the road.
“We’ve also seen some big picture changes. It was announced by the Alberta government that they’re removing the fees for people to be able to get into treatment, and every property offender we’ve arrested on our side of the county line is addicted to meth,” said Daisley.
St. Paul S/Sgt. Greg Stannard said there’s too many for him to say all, but “certainly most crime, especially property crime is driven by other crime whether it’s drugs or other substances. It’s too bad, but that’s the way it is.”
Clarity to ATV regulations
One question received from the public during the video was for clarity regarding the regulations for using ATV’s on the lake roads and where the best place to report reckless ATV use is.
“The rule is basically that you’re not allowed to drive on the road,” said Daisley. He said municipalities can apply to be designated as a place where ATVs can be driven on the road, but to his knowledge, it is still against the rules in both Two Hills and St. Paul. ATV users are allowed to cross from one side of the road to the other when they are using the trails, but the vehicle must still be insured and registered.
The best way to report reckless ATV use is by calling the Two Hills RCMP at 780-657-2860 or St. Paul RCMP at 780-645-8888.