Crime in Rural Alberta.

AuthorPettitt, Dave
PositionSpecial Report Rural Law

Rural crime is a problem in Alberta. In the city, if you have a security alarm on your home, you can realistically expect it to be effective. In the country, who is going to hear the alarm? How long will it take for a police response?

Before moving to an acreage, I (Dave) spent most of my life living in the core of Canadian cities. Crime was part of everyday life. I was never surprised to find my car broken into when I lived in the city. Not a week went by without some kind of theft, be it empty bottles or a freshly planted shrubbery. My solution was moving to the country, and it has worked for me.

I am a lucky acreage owner who has not had to deal with any property crime. Rural life has been wonderful for my family. However, many of my neighbours have had problems, and they are afraid.

The Alberta government recently made several announcements regarding rural crime and policing. First, it announced it will be increasing the number of RCMP officers serving rural Alberta. By 2024, there will be an additional 300 RCMP officers. Second, the government passed a series of amendments to Alberta's trespassing laws aimed at discouraging rural crime.

Preventing Crime

When talking to rural Albertans about what they have done to prevent crime, there are a lot of ideas but no real solutions. One neighbour purchased a top of the line security system when they moved into their home. The security system did not prevent a thief from hooking up to their enclosed trailer and driving away with the owner's tools and livelihood. Gates are broken, thieves smile at security cameras and nobody is close enough to hear the alarm. Big dogs seem to be the most effective deterrent.

In a video series, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, the RCMP tells rural Albertans how to prevent crime. Some tips from the video series include:

* Limit visibility of items from the road (keep your toys hidden)

* Limit theft by making it difficult

* Install a driveway alarm so you know when people enter your yard

* Clean lines of sight (make sure your entire yard is visible from the house)

* Lock all outbuildings

* Install deadbolts with strike plates on all exterior doors

* Keep gates closed at all times

* Ensure property is looked after

* Install motion-activated LED lights

The RCMP tips focus on decreasing the likelihood that a thief will choose your property. Arguably, this does not prevent the crime, as much as move it down the road to the next house without...

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