It can and does happen in small town Alberta.
That was the one thing RCMP Sgt. Bruce Holliday wanted people to take away from a presentation held May 9 at Bashaw’s Majestic Theatre that focused on helping businesses — in any small community such as Bashaw and Ponoka — learn how to make themselve a more difficult target for criminals.
Holliday, commander of the Bashaw detachment, along with Bashaw Servus Credit Union manager Jamie Turcotte were part of the evening that was sponsored by the Bashaw and District Chamber of Commerce.
With a business audience, Holliday put the spotlight on preventing robberies or at least making the potential more difficult.
“Robberies are a growing trend in Alberta — given the prevalence of VLTs (video lottery terminals) — and now another target, specifically of break and enters, is ABMs (automated banking machines).”
Holliday provided an example from last July when the Mirror Post Office was broken into and had a significant amount of money taken.
“This was an organized group that was scoping Bashaw, specifically the Servus ABM. An RCMP team had them under surveillance, but they found a way past and were able to hit the post office in Mirror,” he explained.
The criminals were caught the very next evening trying to break into the post office a second time, so Holliday warned that the bad guys are watching and businesses need to take steps to mitigate the risks.
“The common theme in robberies and thefts is opportunity. It is everyone’s responsibility to help in prevention and the RCMP will be looking to you for help when a crime does occur,” he said.
He praised Bashaw’s Chamber for spearheading a push for closed circuit cameras among its members, a useful tool for the entire community as it may help catch suspects of any crime committed. Better lighting and keeping the inside of businesses visible from outside are also keys in deterring crimes as there are less opportunities to hide.
Another target for Holliday was money handling, where poor procedures can lead to losses. He noted the key for businesses is to train staff in measures that make it less inviting for criminals and eliminate the potential of being victimized by thieves confusing clerks through constant requests to change for specific bills.
And if a business is robbed, Holliday explained co-operation and obeying with the request is what should be done.
“Safety is number one and in the end, it’s property. And consider all weapons as if they are real,” he said. “Afterward, call 911 and if possible, note features of the suspect from head to toe as well as what direction the suspect left; if it was on foot or in a vehicle and a licence plate number if you can.”
Holliday added that common sense and being prepared will go a long way in being less attractive to criminals while also being able to better help police catch the criminals once it does happen.
Turcotte’s focus was on making sure business owners teach their staff how to identify the security features of the new polymer bills, while not forgetting that there are still older bills in circulation.
The phrase ‘Feel, Look, Flip’ is how financial institutions instruct their staff about bank note safety and is a rather simple procedure, she explained.
“A lot of us forget about what the old bills are like and what some of the new security features are, so these are some of the tips we use when bills come in,” added Turcotte.
Feel relates to how unique the smooth texture of the new bills are compared to the raised bumps of the old bills.
Look means taking time to glance through the large window, which should be see-through from both sides of the bill, and also noting the outline of a frosted maple leaf window.
Flip is about turning the bill over and ensuring the features and colours, including the metallic portrait and building in the see-through window, are the same on both sides.
Turcotte also stated a new $10 bill will start circulation next month in celebration of Canada 150 and that some new security features have been implemented into it. Businesses wanting more information on bank note safety are encouraged to head to www.bankofcanada/banknotes.