BY RYAN WELLICOME
Blackfalds RCMP’s top brass reported a significant spike in property-related crimes in early spring.
In March and April of this year, the number of property crimes reported doubled as opposed to averages from previous years. Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison claimed that unseasonably warm weather had a part to play.
“It’s not unusual to see an increase, when warm weather hits, for property crime,” said Morrison.
“Criminals are a fair-weather kind of ‘worker’.”
He also cited Alberta’s struggling economy as a possible contributor to the problem.
“With the economy, I mean, you’re looking at some easy money by targeting some of the communities in and around Central Alberta,” he said. “Property crime can be a way to make a quick buck.”
Morrison also reported that there was an increase in mischief cases during the same months.
He said that although speculation can be made, in order to pinpoint what caused the spike, further analysis must be undertaken.
“To particularly narrow it right down to exactly what it was would require a fair bit of research into the files we have from that time,” Morrison said.
The Blackfalds RCMP reported 67 and 64 cases of property crime for March and April, respectively, in contrast to previous years where the number of cases within those months averaged between 20-30.
Of those 64 cases in April, 28 cases were mischief, 19 were theft of under $5,000 and six involved motor vehicle theft.
Four arrests were made in April with charges pending.
Following March and April, the number of cases dropped to 37 in May and 40 in June.
Morrison encouraged residents to make sure vehicles, houses and garages are locked and secure to safeguard property and to keep bicycles locked up or put away at night.
He further stressed that keeping houses well lit will help to discourage criminal activity.
Additionally, he asked that residents help the RCMP by reporting suspicious activity.
“I would sooner hear someone call in eight or nine times about something suspicious in the area as opposed to never getting that call,” he said. “We need community involvement, community engagement and we need the community’s support to show that we are all working together.”
Morrison claimed that the apprehension of suspects throughout the two months contributed to the decline of cases in May.
“A large part of the crime is being committed by a very small portion of the population,” he said.
“You take one or two off the street and the numbers can take a drastic decrease.”
Statistics Canada reports that crime in Alberta increased by 18% in 2015, the highest increase of any province or territory, and property crimes have been driving those numbers up – in particular, breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 and under and motor vehicle theft.
In 2015, Calgary had the largest increase in crime of any census metropolitan area (CMA) at 29%; Edmonton sat at a 16% cent increase.
In 2015, Canada saw its first overall national crime increase since 2003.