Rural landowners affected by crime will now have access to more resources to help protect their property.
The Alberta government and RCMP announced today they’re launching a initiative called Project Lock Up, an effort that combines the forces of RCMP and citizen-led groups to better respond to crime and to give victims access to prevention tools.
The initiative will see more patrols in hardest-hit places, enhanced victim supports, additional tools for repeat victims of crime and better responses to ongoing criminal investigations.
“Project Lock Up is truly an intelligence-led and collaborative approach to Albertans who have been victimized by break and enters,” Supt. Peter Tewfik, the officer in charge of crime reduction strategies with Alberta RCMP, said during the announcement.
“We find the people who need the most support and along with our partners, work with them to ensure they are never targeted again.”
Project Lock Up comes nearly a year after the province unveiled its $8 million rural crime strategy to bolster RCMP efforts.
“From Jan-Dec 2018 we have seen 480 fewer homes broken into; 3,442 fewer thefts; 1,257 fewer cars stolen; and 10% decrease in rural property crime in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions.” – D/Commr. Zablocki. #LockUp #SaferAB pic.twitter.com/bgAT1sleBZ
— RCMP Alberta (@RCMPAlberta) February 5, 2019
The strategy, which officials say is working, has seen rural crime drop 16 percent from December 2017 to December 2018. Property crime has fallen 10 percent from January to December 2018, according to RCMP data.
“We will continue building on that momentum, working with our law enforcement agencies and citizen-led organizations, to support safe communities,” Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley said during the announcement.
However, despite the RCMP’s best efforts to reduce crime, gaps have been identified.
For instance, about one- third of homes are repeatedly broken into, according to an RCMP analysis, which means burgled properties are likely to be targeted again.
As well, it’s often difficult for RCMP to return stolen property because it’s usually not marked or registered.
Project Lock Up addresses these concerns, Tewfik said.
He said more patrols will occur in places inundated by crime. RCMP have managed to locate such areas based on detailed analysis.
Citizen-led groups, peace officers and fish and wildlife officers will have access to the hot-spot areas so they can also help address issues.
As well, he said officers will now improve follow-up practices with people repeatedly victimized, either via telephone or in-person, offering prevention advice.
Further, people victimized the most will be given a Trace Pen, a device that marks property, possibly improving is return to owners.
RCMP said the pens, which will be provided by Citizens on Patrol and Rural Crime Watch groups, was based on the MetTrace Project in the United Kingdom. MetTrace resulted in residential break and enters dropping by approximately 30 percent in targeted areas, RCMP said.
In some cases, RCMP will also arrange a customized home security assessment by an expert to prevent future incidents from occurring.
“Simple changes such as ensuring you have an up-to-date inventory of your property and using identifying markers can help reduce thefts in Alberta,” said Henry Tso, vice-president of investigative services with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which is partnering with the RCMP.
“Alberta’s insurance industry lives in these communities and cares deeply about these roots. We want to work with all partners to do everything we can to reduce the incidents of thefts across the province.”
Other partners in the initiative include Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta, Alberta Sheriffs, Alberta Community Peace Officers, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officers, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch, the Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association, and Alberta Citizens on Patrol.