Open doors invite thieves | RCMP offer tips to minimize risk
ROSALIND, Alta. — Preventing theft is mainly about common sense, an RCMP detachment commander said at the Rosalind Agricultural Society Ag Day.
A locked car or door and a well-lit driveway go a long way in preventing rural crime, said cpl. Beth Philipp of the Camrose RCMP.
“Property protection is not rocket science. If the door is open, they will come in.”
Copper wire and portable generators top the list of the most stolen items in rural areas. Copper wire is sold for cash and generators are often used in marijuana grow operators to run expensive lighting equipment without attracting the attention of electricity providers.
Knowing equipment serial numbers and vehicle identification numbers can help track down stolen goods, she said.
Creating an active rural crime watch organization can also help reduce rural crime, but only if it’s active, said Philipp. RCMP will help facilitate the organization, but it’s up to local residents to keep it active.
“It does work because it has people engaged in the community.”
Small rural detachments don’t have enough officers to patrol the vast network of rural towns, villages and country roads daily, said Philipp, but she did encourage the audience to call the police if they have problems.
“We don’t get a lot of calls from here, so that’s a nice thing. It’s a good statement about your community.”
Philipp encourages increased police presence in communities rather than increased visibility.
“The visibility of a police car is not as effective as members coming into the community for a visit and coffee,” said Philipp, who believes in the benefit of travelling to events throughout the community.
“I like to come out to these meetings. It puts a face on who I am in the community.”
Philipp said common sense also goes a long way in policing.
She doesn’t stop every speeder she sees and expects officers to use good judgment when handing out tickets.
As a detachment commander, Philipp reviews all the tickets her officers write and once reminded a young officer it probably didn’t improve police and community relations to ticket an elderly woman for not carrying a driver’s licence.
“I’ve gone to Safeway with only $20 and without my licence. If I got a $170 ticket for that, I’d be mad,” she said.
“If you couldn’t show me your insurance, I’m a little more hesitant not to write a ticket.”
Camrose County reeve Don Gregorwich said the municipality works closely with the local RCMP detachment to focus on problem areas in the community.
When Philipp arrived nine months ago, county officials asked her to concentrate on the proliferation of speeding vehicles and speeding gravel trucks on Highway 21 be-tween Camrose and Edmonton.
“It’s a mutual relationship,” said Gregorwich.
When the county believed the detachment was understaffed, it lobbied police and provincial officials for more officers.
- lock or deadbolt doors, yard gates and windows
- photograph and keep records of equipment, tools and other valuables in a safe location (external hard drive, safety deposit box), including all identifying marks, serial numbers, make and model information, dimensions and value. Update this information as needed
- let neighbours and police know if you are going out of town for an extended period and have a designated contact person who can make periodic checks of the property and look for suspicious activity or tracks
- install timers on regularly used lights on the property, ensure you have good yard lighting and motion sensors, consider using cameras or security equipment
- lock vehicles and farm equipment when not in use and do not leave keys, overhead door openers or any personal identification (vehicle registration) nearby
- use grain confetti in bins
- tattoo or brand livestock and keep current inventory lists
- empty or lower gas tank levels in equipment not in use