Spike in Central Alberta armed robberies

More likely than not guns involved have been stolen

Guns and robbers. It sounds like the name of a hard rock band or movie — but it actually describes a number of recent serious crimes in Central Alberta.

Cpl. Bob Schultz said there has been an increase lately in armed robberies involving the use of guns. But the officer, who is part of Red Deer RCMP General Investigation Services, said the explanation is varied.

“The reason why could be a lot of things. We can only assume in some instances it could be anything from revenge to criminal drug activity to … robberies.”

Some of the robberies could be based on people’s lack of funds or work, although police don’t have anything concrete to correlate that, Schultz said.

Often robberies or any other violent offences are linked to other criminal elements and drugs do play a big part. “We do see a lot of that,” he said.

In a robbery on Monday where shots were fired in Red Deer, Schultz described the suspect as someone particular reckless with the use of a gun. That could be due to a lack of knowledge about the gun, or lack of respect for the public in general, he said.

Usually the firearms being used in crimes are stolen and not particularly safe, he said. Stolen guns are often long-barrelled — shotguns or rifles — and because criminals can’t walk around with them easily, police are finding the guns have been modified.

That modifying, such as cutting off the barrel or stock, affects the gun and the safety mechanisms on them. “I’ve had people load the wrong ammunition into the gun and you’re causing an injury to your face … then you add behavioral or substance abuse issues into the picture.”

“Everybody has to be cognizant of those types of risks. We’re aware of it as well and it ups our risk assessment when we’re responding to calls.” Sometimes that means sending more than one officer to a scene and then it becomes a resource issue, Schultz said.

When confronted with a crime, people have to take into account the risk to themselves. “Is property worth your life or your health?” Observe and call the police, he said.

While Schultz doesn’t want to blame gun owners, he said they need to take the necessary precautions if they have a lot of guns to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

People install security systems to protect things like expensive vehicles. “I would say we should take the same kind of precautions for firearms.”

Schultz urges people who are going to install security cameras to invest in a system that provides good quality video. And put the cameras where they will capture the best evidence. “Putting a camera at the back of the store 40 feet away doesn’t help anything.”

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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