February 17, 2018 9:59 pm
Updated: February 17, 2018 10:05 pm

Alberta’s Rural Crime Watch groups sign agreement to be RCMP’s ‘eyes and ears’

WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta RCMP is looking to change its tactics when it comes to rural crime. Sarah Kraus spoke to the Alberta RCMP's commander about that and other issues as 2017 draws to a close.

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As part of his mission to curb what’s been described as ‘sky-high’ rural crime rates in Alberta, Todd Shean, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP, signed a formal agreement with rural crime watch groups across the province Thursday.

The memorandum of understanding outlines the roles of both groups and a commitment to work together to reduce crime.

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READ MORE: Alberta RCMP changing tactics to address rural crime: commanding officer

Rural residents are being asked to contact their local RCMP or crime watch association with information about anything that may look suspicious.

“By helping us see a little farther and hear a little more, and encouraging their neighbours to do the same, rural crime watch members play a major role in support of our crime reduction strategy,” Shean said.

“With the right information at the right time, we can identify repeat offenders and crime hot spots to help us conduct targeting initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of crime in a given community.”

The association has 55 groups and over 16,000 members across the province.

“Lock [and] properly mark your belongings in the event that they’ve been stolen and property is recovered,” Tichkowsky said, adding that education is key. “Reporting suspicious activity as soon as possible can make a difference.”

“I strongly suggest people get involved,” said Dean Hart, director of the Southern Alberta association. “Criminals are not wanting to be caught, so if they know they’re being watched they’re going to move on to someplace else.

“Because we live in the communities, we best know what’s going on in the community and when we see something that doesn’t fit, [we] question it.”

The Leduc chapter of the Rural Crime Watch Association is celebrating 35 years this year.

It’s one of the largest groups with over 900 members and sends out about 100 notifications to members each year, by either email, text or phone.

Chapter president resident Cor de Wit calls the system “one of the most cost-effective methods of keeping crime down.

“People just need to be observant.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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