If you feel like you've been hearing about more vehicle thefts than usual, it isn't just a coincidence. Strathmore RCMP Staff Sergeant and Detachment Commander Mark Wielgosz said from April 1 to December 1 2022 there were 24 reported vehicle thefts, which is up from 18 thefts reported during the same time frame in 2021.
Wielgosz explained the majority of vehicle theft comes from people who don't live in our area, with many coming from Calgary to either target vehicles to resell them or steal parts or use them to commit further crimes. While it may sound difficult to keep track of thieves coming from many different areas, Wielgosz said the RCMP actually has a high success rate of recovering stolen vehicles, since they work with other municipalities and communities to coordinate their efforts.
"Information sharing is important to ensure that we're coordinating with respect to our known property offenders, but also continue our investigations should the vehicle be recovered. Is there any forensic evidence inside that we can tie to an offender?"
While it's great that the RCMP often recovers stolen property, the fact that it's still stolen to begin with is a concern that Wielgosz is trying to address. One of the ways is through the Habitual Offender Management Program, which is where RCMP officers will monitor and check in on known offenders to ensure they're following the rules of their parole. To further increase preventative action, Wielgosz asks the public to report any suspicious activity.
"The Town of Strathmore has over 14,000 residents in it. That's over 14,000 sets of eyes."
This isn't the only way you can help prevent vehicle theft. In fact, Wielgosz said the best way to prevent it is for community members to stay vigilant and avoid creating opportunities for easy crimes of opportunity. Steps you can take to keep you and your vehicle safe include:
- Never leave your keys in the car unattended, if you're warming your car up have your car in sight at all times.
- command start is another good option to warm your car up in a safe way
- Don't leave valuables in your car that could cause it to become a target of theft
- Lock your car whenever you exit, even if it's for something quick like just picking something up in a store.
Even though vehicle thefts have gone up recently there's no need to panic, as this is less about a sudden crime spike and more about crime being unusually low recently.
"It's important to acknowledge that we did have those two years of low crime numbers. When we take a look at our crime averages over the last four years we are seeing a bit of a return to what our historical crime averages are, but as recently as quarter two we are at or below our historical average."
"While no level of crime is acceptable I can say that we're within our historical crime numbers and in fact, we're slightly below them when we take a look at our quarter two reporting."
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