Rural crime down in Wheatland County
By Canadian Press
By Canadian Press
March 26, 2021 – Rural crime has decreased during the pandemic, but local RCMP detachments in Wheatland County, Alta., will keep their approach to policing with a possible return to normal levels around the corner.
This, according to Cpl. Sebastian Andrews of Bassano RCMP detachment and Sgt. Tim Kelly of Gleichen RCMP detachment, who presented at Wheatland County’s March 2 council meeting.
The county has set policing priorities for 2021, including reducing property crime, application of crime reduction strategies, police presence, visibility, traffic, law enforcement and community engagement.
Reeve Amber Link said she is hearing less about rural property crime.
“I suspect it’s because people are home more, and there’s maybe less opportunity for crime, (but) that’s anecdotal,” she said.
Kelly and Andrews supported Link’s views, saying rural crime has indeed dipped.
Bassano RCMP is leading the Rural Crime Strategy Project, a door-to-door effort to inform residents about policing and crime trends, and to help them adopt crime prevention strategies, such as installing signage and cameras.
According to Andrews, rural property crime has been decreasing since the implementation of this program. Since April 2019, there have been four break-and-enters and 25 copper theft crimes. But since the program’s implementation, only two break-and-enters and four copper thefts were recorded.
The two break-and-enters occurred at two businesses in Hussar. The RCMP was able to identify the suspects using DNA, noted Andrews.
“We’re planning on arresting our suspects tomorrow. But unfortunately, they are in the COVID unit in one of our remand centres,” he said during the meeting.
Meanwhile, Kelly said the Gleichen detachment has also seen a decrease in break-and-enters. Other than a couple occurrences at industrial sites, they have been few, he said. “It’s been fairly quiet.”
While crime may be low now, a return to more typical levels could be around the corner, noted Kelly.
“Once it warms up and the restrictions start to lessen, there’s going to be a lot more movement (and) a lot more people that aren’t home. I agree that crime is probably going to start climbing at that point.”