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Alberta Citizens on Patrol members assist in shooting investigation north of Calgary

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Alberta Citizens on Patrol members assist in investigation north of Calgary.
A homeowner in Linden, a village northeast of Calgary, came face to face with armed thieves who shot at his vehicle. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, a volunteer was on patrol when it happened and was able to help identify the suspect vehicles – Dec 3, 2023

Airdrie RCMP and Alberta Citizens on Patrol are reminding homeowners to call police if they discover a suspected thief on their property and that approaching intruders can be dangerous.

The reminder comes after a rural homeowner near Linden was shot at and had his vehicle rammed while trying to prevent thieves from stealing gas on his property.

Airdrie RCMP received a report Saturday of a theft and shooting on a rural property near Township 304 around 1:30 a.m.

Police said the homeowner observed people in two vehicles stealing gas. When he approached the suspects with his vehicle, they began to flee. As they fled, they rammed the homeowner’s vehicle and shot at him. His truck was hit by bullets fired by one of the suspects.

“While RCMP investigate, we are cautioning homeowners about the dangers of approaching suspects who are committing offences. RCMP officers are specifically trained and equipped in dealing with the hazards of interdicting suspects while they are committing crime,” said Sgt. Greg Tullock of the Airdrie RCMP.

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“When you see a crime in progress your first action should be to call the police.”

The suspect vehicles are described as a newer model silver SUV and an older model white or silver truck with front end damage.

Anyone with information is being asked to Airdrie RCMP at 403-945-7200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800- 222-8477 (TIPS) or submitted online http://www.P3Tips.com.

Flo Robinson, head of Linden Citizens on Patrol, said it isn’t unusual to be patrolling the streets of Linden at any hour of the day or night.

She told Global News she was out on a 1 a.m. shift early Saturday morning when she noticed two suspicious vehicles in the village.

She observed them heading to an acreage just east of the village where they turned into the property.

“As the vehicle was coming out of the driveway, and I was going past. I heard a gunshot.  At first you hear this popping noise you don’t even consider that immediately. I went in to see if they were OK and they were. They were shaken up, but they were all right,” Robinson said.

His truck was hit by bullets fired by one of the suspects.

The homeowner didn’t want to appear on camera but he said the bullets that hit his truck came within two meters of hitting him.

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“I understand his frustration. I understand his wanting to get out there and intercept these people but just remember you’re going to block him into your property and you haven’t called police yet so nobody’s coming to help you once you block them in so let us know.   We deal with these things every day and I assure you this is what police officers want to.They want to get to your property. This is why they joined the RCMP is to intercept these criminals,” said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.

The mayor of Linden says the Citizens on Patrol have been effective in keeping crime down.

“The COP does an amazing job in this community. They are the eyes and ears in the community at night and putting in 100’s of hours.

They see a strange vehicle coming into town and they keep an eye on them. They observe and report from a distance and when these guys see the sign on the side of the door that says COP, they think maybe they should move onto a different town because there’s too many eyes on them,” said Kelly Klassen mayor of the village of Linden.

“It’s always shocking to hear of something like in a small town. It’s something that doesn’t happen often,”

Robinson says volunteers are trained in first aid and self-defense among other things and the rules are to observe and report.    There are nearly 60 volunteers now in the village.

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“It’s important for our communities and other communities to observe and report because you’re not going to fight these guys. Half the time they’re on drugs. They don’t care.  They’re doing something they want to get the job done and they don’t care if they hurt somebody,” Robinson said.

She said the Linden COP won the Alberta Award for community crime prevention in 2013.

Cpl. Savinkoff said RCMP can use measures such as spike belts or activating a helicopter, or bringing other assets that increase chances of intercepting suspects.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to watch someone who’s stealing something from your property. Your first instinct are going to be to run but if you intercept these people ,what is essentially a theft under ($5,000) investigation is now going to be something significantly more because these individuals are going to do what they need to do to get away,” Savinkoff said.

He said right now RCMP in Alberta are seeing a lot of copper wire thefts and  catalytic converter thefts.

“It only takes a few criminals or suspects to commit a large amount of crime especially if they do that full-time.   The RCMP focuses on an intelligence lead approach.  We focus on who these individuals are rather than predict where they might go.  Our crime reduction teams identify who these people are once they are charged. We try to get them under conditions if they get released.   Our crime reduction unit follows up with these individuals and tries to track their whereabouts and make sure we keep those individuals under control so that they’re not victimizing the public,” Savinkoff said.

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