With an upswing in crime throughout central Alberta, police are trying to get an important message across to rural residents.
“With more thefts involving vehicles and fuel, rural residents have got to work with us. Most rural residents are good, trusting people, but the bad guys from larger centres know this and that’s why crimes like this are increasing,” said Bashaw RCMP Sgt. Bruce Holliday.
“People do not lock up their sheds, homes, fuel tanks or leave the keys in the vehicles and the bad guys know this. They are targeting those good trusting people, but this is 2017 and people need to change how they operate and how they think.
Holliday issued those messages along with other important facts to an audience at a meeting April 25 of the Red Deer-Lacombe Rural Crime Watch group, whose region includes the coverage areas of four different RCMP detachments — Bashaw, Ponoka, Blackfalds and Sylvan Lake.
“We all need to safe guard our property and look after our neighbours,” offered Holliday.
A large focus of the meeting was to update residents on the current state of criminal activity in the Bashaw detachment area along with Holliday introducing himself to the group, after having taken over command of the detachment back in February.
“It was a bit of like a state of the nation address and everything was well received,” he said, “I mentioned about the number of thefts going on and how we are working to address those that are committing those crimes. I’m looking to continue to foster these kinds of relationships at meetings such as these as well as other venues.”
He added that he had a number of questions sent his way at the meeting, most of which were relevant.
“I did, though, sense that there was some frustration with the continued vehicle and fuel thefts, but the residents have got to work with us,” he stated.
“I really encouraged the residents to report any suspicious activity as well as any incidents of theft or vandalism or any crime. If we — the police — don’t know about it then we can’t solve it. The onus is on the people to report it and then we have a better chance at stopping it.”
Holliday reiterated that people also need to be more aware and start making it more difficult for criminals by locking up fuel tanks, taking keys out of a vehicle’s ignition and putting them away somewhere, locking doors and windows in homes plus having good motion detectors or security lights on the property. Doing those few things will likely cause a thief to move on.
To report a crime in progress or any suspicious activity, Holliday explained people should call 911 immediately. For reporting crimes that took place after some time has passed or to provide a tip, people are asked to contact the detachment at (780) 372-3793. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).