The building of a community is a true cure for crime

Summertime can be the time of year when the best family memories are created.

MELODIE STOL

Summertime can be the time of year when the best family memories are created.

From the traditional family road trip across a province or a day trip to a great outdoor pool, Albertans have access to great amenities and activities. Sadly, every summer also creates some not so happy memories.

It is unfortunately a time of year when many towns and cities see a spike in property crime. These crimes, such as thefts from motor vehicles, vandalism and thefts from sheds and garages can be very upsetting.

You cannot help but feel violated when your property has been taken.

While insurance can cover the cost of replacing items, insurance cannot replace a tool that was special because your grandfather had given it to you or a set of golf clubs that contained items your kids had given you for Mother’s Day.

There is no one-step solution to preventing crime. It is a complex set of solutions that need to work in coordination with each other.

We need to create environments that discourage thefts.

Our local RCMP estimates that as much as 95% of thefts from vehicles are occurring from unlocked vehicles.

The local detachment has tried to raise awareness of this by leaving yellow information cards in unlocked cars throughout the community. By simply locking up and making sure that valuables such as purses, wallets and electronics are not left in plain sight in the car, we can reduce these crimes of opportunity. Taking time to meet our neighbors is one of the best crime prevention measures.

Getting to know who is a regular part of our neighborhoods helps us differentiate between regular community activity and suspicious activity. One of the challenges in a fast-growing community like Blackfalds is that there are always new faces in the neighborhood.

We all need to build positive relationships with neighbors. A few months ago, I noticed my neighbor had left their garage door open. A quick knock on the door prevented the home from becoming a target and it also helped build trust between us.

Some of the crime seen this year can unfortunately be attributed to youth. It is extremely important that we as parents continue to provide structure and positive activities for kids to channel their energy. Summer camps and part-time jobs both help youth learn leadership and responsibility.

The Town of Blackfalds is committed to supporting our local youth by providing facilities such as the Abbey Center that cater to many age groups.

For those who have an interest in policing, the Town of Blackfalds has a Policing Committee that makes recommendations to Town council and to the RCMP as they develop local service plans. It is important that residents provide input and direction on how resources are allocated. There are additional community volunteer opportunities with our local Block Parents.

There are a number of online resources people can turn to for additional information on crime prevention. The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Center has a web site with information as well as a location in Red Deer to provide support and guidance for people. The Edmonton Police Service has a wonderful selection of printable tip sheets covering the complete array of crime concerns from fraud to personal safety. I am aware that despite our best efforts, crimes will continue to occur.

I do believe though we need to participate in straightforward, common sense solutions to protect ourselves. I also know that the members of the Blackfalds RCMP and local community peace officers are committed to community policing and building relationships with citizens. We need to work together to address the cycles of crime and build an atmosphere of long-term community building to prevent as much crime as possible.

Melodie Stol is the mayor of Blackfalds.