RCMP discuss crime and prevention at annual town hall

A spike in rural crime has residents in the MD of Pincher Creek, Alta. concerned and was the focal point of a Pincher Creek RCMP-led town hall discussion Nov. 30.

While many might feel thieves are specifically targeting them or their property, more often than not, it’s a crime of opportunity, police say.

“People [criminals] see a vehicle idling, jump in and go,” said Cpl. Jeffrey Feist, following the meeting. “Or, they see quads. Anything they can steal. Copper is a big thing right now too. So, when they see it, they’re going to do it. It’s a grab when they can and they go.”

Feist admitted many of the crimes are hard to stop and aren’t easily solved. In a large number of cases, they’re also not reported to RCMP. With many of the thefts connected to one or more individuals, police contend it’s that one phone call that might help connect the dots and nab a suspect.

Figures, although not scientific, also show that not all of the thefts are carried out by those living in the area.

“Probably a real mixture. We see about a 50-50 split,” Feist said. “We know of a local group that we know are quite common, petty thieves, not so much the bigger stuff. We do, though, get people roving through from other communities as far away as Calgary. Sometimes, Edmonton, Lethbridge … Taber.”

Feist added thieves are willing to travel because their opportunity is much greater when they travel those distances. They also, he pointed out, communicate with each other.

“They’re not, I guess, what you call stupid people. They have friends or they get to know other people, maybe while in jail. They’re sharing information all the time too. So, if this guy knows that guy is looking for a bunch of copper, he might relay that.”

Copper thefts are top of mind for Pincher Creek RCMP after the arrest last week of two local men. It was a call to police of suspicious activity that led to the pair being taken into custody and charged.

RCMP, on that point, strongly urge you to call if you witness something suspicious, either through their complaints line (403-627-6000) or 911, which led one person in the audience to ask, “Can I call 911 if it’s not a life-threatening emergency?”

Feist said the answer is yes.

“Calling either our complaints line or 911 will get you to the same place. That’s our dispatch centre in Red Deer and they have direct communication with us. 911 is absolutely fine to call or the “6000” number, which is answered 24 hours a day.”

Close to two dozen residents and at least one business owner attended the 90-minute session held inside the MD of Pincher Creek’s council chambers.

Dave Lueneberg, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze