February 5, 2019 7:05 pm

Next phase of Alberta’s rural crime strategy to focus on victims

RCMP in Fort Macleod

File / Global News

Both the Alberta government and the RCMP say the rural crime strategy is having real results with a significant reduction in crime.

The strategy was brought after some rural residents said they were being repeatedly victimized, mostly in property crime-related incidents like home break-ins and vehicle thefts.

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“From January to December 2018, we’ve seen 480 fewer homes broken into, almost 3500 fewer thefts, over 1200 fewer vehicles stolen and a 10 per cent decrease in property crime in rural Alberta RCMP jurisdictions,” said Deputy Commissioner, Curtis Zablocki at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday.

“While encouraging, what matters most is that citizens feel safe.”

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RCMP said the program has been successful because their strategy involved targeting repeat offenders as well as working with volunteer community crime watch groups. More than 800 arrests have resulted in 2,800 charges laid since February.

The next stage in the rural crime strategy will focus on four elements turning the focus to victims of crime.

RCMP superintendent Peter Tewfik is in charge of crime reduction strategies said people will be contacted by police.

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“Listening to concerns and working with you to ensure you’re not targeted and ensure you’re not victimized,” Tewfik said Tuesday. “There will be more patrols in hardest-hit areas, specialized operations to arrest criminals operating in the area and an enhanced response from the forensic unit after a break and enter.”

Police will also give people a property-marking kit that includes a tracer pen to mark items of value. Police say they often recover stolen material but don’t know who it belongs to. However, if it’s marked, it can go back to the rightful owner and also provide police more evidence which could link an offender to more than just one crime.

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Justice minister and solicitor general Kathleen Ganley said the results of the first phase of the rural crime strategy are positive but more needs to be done.

“Every Albertan deserves to feel safe in their home and in their community,” Ganley said. “Property crime can make people feel frustrated and it can interfere with their sense of basic safety.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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