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Crime

Rural crime forcing residents of Priddis, Alta., to take matters into their own hands

WATCH: People in the small southern Alberta hamlet of Priddis are worried after a string of break-ins in the community. As Josh Ritchie reports, residents now feel they have to take matters into their own hands due to long response times from police.

Rural crime in Alberta is an issue the province continues to try and fight, but residents of small communities are still stuck facing problems.

Water’s Edge Pub in Priddis is just one of a handful of businesses that have been hit by a string of break-ins over the course of the last few weeks, costing the store owners thousands of dollars.

READ MORE: ‘People are pulling guns’: Alberta justice minister hears stories of frustration, vigilante acts on rural crime tour

“They do massive damage every time they come in,” said Cory Morgan, the pub’s owner, on Saturday. “They smash and grab, they count on the limited police response times, they know they’ve got 20 minutes, 30 minutes to move if they can.”

Morgan’s pub has been broken into twice in the last eight days, with thieves stealing cash and alcohol from the bar, and smashing TVs, the POS system, and glasses.

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In total, Morgan is out about $8,000 and feels that if he is hit one more time, it could put him out of business.

READ MORE: Alberta justice minister stops in Fort Macleod on province-wide tour discussing rural crime

“If I get hit again, I don’t know if I’ll be able to have the money to open again, and so if I encounter them, I’m going to stop them however I have to,” Morgan said.

That mindset is one that resonates with many in the small southern Alberta hamlet.

Residents said the town has formed an unofficial watch, with people driving through the community during the overnight hours to try and protect businesses.

READ MORE: Alberta justice minister to kick off tour to discuss rural crime in Bragg Creek on Thursday

Some are concerned that if thieves are caught, the situation could take a turn for the worse.

“People are going to protect themselves if they feel their life is threatened,” resident Mark Morin said. “They’re going to have to take the situation into their own hands if that’s the situation they are put in.”

But for business owners like Morgan, protecting his business is the top priority.

“I’m going to put the health of my business and myself way before the health of these guys, so if we have a confrontation, it’s going to end really poorly,” he said.

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Global News reached out to RCMP and John Barlow, the MP for Foothills, for comment on response times and crime in the area but have yet to receive a response.