Everyone has either seen, heard or had it happen to them, the increase in break and enters, the hike in vehicle thefts and the alarming rise in how much more violent or brazen those committing crimes have become.
So the question that is begging to be asked is — What is it going to take to have people take action?
First off let me be straight, by action I am referring to the simple tasks that can make homes, property and valued items far less attractive or inviting and thereby not making someone a victim of crime. As an emergency services first responder, I would never be an advocate of taking things into your own hands because vehicles and possessions can be replaced, but a life cannot.
Alright, now with that said, let’s get back to the whole point of this piece.
The entire province, but especially prevalent in central Alberta at the moment, is battling with a rise in property crime that is also seeing criminals becoming increasingly violent and desperate to make a getaway.
No one is going to stop someone that is willing to conduct an armed robbery of a business or a targeted home invasion and there may not be any stopping an individual that is bent on taking something by force. However, there are things that people are doing that are making it far too easy for criminals and that’s where our attitudes and actions need to change.
First, let’s start on the topic of stolen vehicles.
Over the last year, police across Alberta have been trying with unfortunately little success to education the public on this issue and the latest stats released bear this out.
According to an Alberta ‘K’ Division RCMP release last week, as of Oct. 1 there have been 1,420 vehicles stolen in the province.
Nearly all of those were taken in under a minute — because they were left unlocked or running with the keys inside.
With all of the reminders Albertans get annually when winter starts, just how long will it take for people to change their behaviours? It isn’t that difficult to make sure a vehicle is locked, that garages are locked, not to leave spare keys or garage door openers in or around the vehicle and to never leave a running vehicle alone. With today’s vehicles, it is possible to leave them in colder weather and they will still start.
Turning to people’s homes, it’s kind of the same deal. Homes and other buildings on properties, primarily in more rural areas, are being left open or unlocked despite pleas from police to do more to deter potential crimes.
Everyone has to get into the habit of locking doors and securing outbuildings, not leaving keys in farm equipment, having automatic lights and generally making it difficult for criminals.
Most crimes come about because of the easy opportunity that is presented and if it takes too long or might involve having to do more work, they will move onto somewhere else.
Why? Because the more time it takes, the higher the chance they’ll be caught and, as is almost always the case, there will be another far easier target just down the road.
As for security measures, the great advances in technology have made it easier for rural home owners to keep an eye on things and protect their properties. If you can afford it and it makes sense, I agree with police that having cameras and recording devices is an excellent investment.
It will not only deter some criminals, but will keep residents safe and allow law enforcement to identify the suspects. There are several recent cases where video has led directly to a suspect that was eventually tracked down and caught.
So, let’s take the first steps in prevention and do these few simple tasks. Your change in behaviour may change the behaviour of others.
But that is…just an observation.