It has been 15 years since the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association last updated its educational video, but now with a new video in production that is about to change.
Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch president Tully Johnson and Ben Wilson of Benjo Productions have teamed up with the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association, the Wetaskiwin and Bashaw RCMP departments, plus RCMP’s K-Division to update the educational awareness video for every rural crime watch group across the province.
The video also has the potential to be used for RCMP training video for new recruits. “So for RCMP officers that are new to Alberta or new to the force entirely, to give them a glimpse into rural Alberta life. And a big part of that is agricultural communities,” said Wilson.
“We’re trying to increase the public awareness, that rural crime watch is an active program that is across the province that is actively working at trying to keep rural communities safer in Alberta,” he added.
The video aims to encourage Alberta’s residents to get involved in rural crime watch; “Encourage people to start to take some responsibility for the safety of their communities.”
He points out that could be anything from keeping the lights on, locking car and home doors or communicating with neighbours.
“It’s kind of telling the story of, this is who rural crime watch is, this is what they do, and you should get involved,” he added.
“I’ve been involved with the crime watch since 1984. A lot of people don’t understand what the crime watch is about,” said Johnson.
While rural crime watch groups have always used different forms of communication to share information — including telephone fan outs and email — when the last video was made many crimes now challenging rural areas, such as property crimes, motor vehicle and ATV theft, and cattle rustling where not as big of issues.
The new video looks to address many of those now relevant crimes, as well as how rural crime watch groups and law enforcement can work together.
On Oct. 30 Johnson, Wilson, and members of the Wetaskiwin Fire Department and Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment gathered at the Wetaskiwin Regional Fire Training Centre to film a stolen vehicle fire sequence.
“The crooks are getting bolder with the theft of vehicles, break-ins. This is going to be an educational video, the do’s and don’ts of what you’re supposed to do. You can do a lot to protect yourself,” said Johnson.
Johnson added, one of the big things for people to remember is when they are reporting a crime of incident they should be able to provide their location down the the range road or township road.
Bashaw RCMP Sgt. Bruce Holliday, adds that it’s about being proactive and working with rural residents.
He’s been working closely with Wilson to provide a realistic look at the rural crime side of things. This helps Wilson come up with a more accurate video.
“We were in consultation with RCMP K-Division and are going to include statistics based on the activity that’s occurring in the rural areas,” said Holliday.
It’s something he feels is important to get the word out but also for RCMP to engage with rural residents on.
Wilson added that there are issues with culprits driving out from the city specifically into the rural areas of Alberta as they know homes and vehicles are usually unlocked.
Add to that, Wilson said thieves are also looking for firearms that may not be stored properly. It’s a big problem in the rural areas.
Calls related to these types of crimes come in almost on a daily basis, added Holliday. The hope with this video is to deter issues of rural crime.
With files from Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye