The relentless crime in Red Deer’s business parks must be part of the discussion at the upcoming community meetings the city has organized to look for ways to fight crime, says a discouraged business manager.
The City of Red Deer is hosting six community meetings starting next week where citizens can share their ideas on reducing crime and ways to make Red Deer more safe.
Companies in Queens, Burnt Lake and Belich business parks have been a target for thieves in recent years. Suzy Dietrich, office manager at Nor-Ag Ltd. in Burnt Lake, said the crime wave continues.
“I don’t know the answer. I just know everybody is frustrated. We don’t know where we’re suppose to go with it,” Dietrich said Wednesday.
She said even with the millions of dollars in taxes collected from business parks, companies still have to pay for private security, and insurance costs are mounting.
“Insurance is up, even if you haven’t put in a claim. If you tell (insurance companies) your postal code, and your postal code is in an industrial park in Red Deer — it’s huge.”
Jeff Giesbrecht, operations manager with Tri-West Security, said staff responded to about 14 incidents at Red Deer business parks last week, sometimes catching criminals in the act.
“We’re still having issues every week. We’re still seeing guys going after batteries, diesel fuel, trucks. That’s what we constantly see and report to RCMP,” Giesbrecht said.
Dietrich said criminals seem to be able to do whatever they want with the current “catch and release” approach to crime.
“The revolving door has been the hardest thing for the group of people I’ve been working with. Tri-West Security will catch them. Police will come out and arrest them. Two to seven days later, they’re back out.”
Regardless of which level of government is in charge of the justice system, the municipality should be looking out for the community, Dietrich said.
Giesbrecht said he is aware of the frustration people feel when criminals are released back onto the street.
“Unfortunately, until we have that legislative change, I think we’re just going to be putting up with it.”
Government needs to address industrial and commercial crime, as well as residential, Giesbrecht said.
Red Deer RCMP Supt. Gerald Grobmeier said the city experienced a reduction in the crime rate in 2018. It spiked in early 2019, but since April, it has dropped to almost the 2018 level.
“There are no easy solutions. If there were, we’d all be doing it. It’s truly a community problem and it’s only through the community, together, that we’ll move the needle on this,” Grobmeier said.
He said the community meetings will gather input to develop a strategy for the entire city that transcends policing. It takes education, intervention, prevention and enforcement.
“We’re all in agreement that community safety, crime, it’s beyond just a policing matter. It’s really a societal issue.”
Six community meetings are scheduled:
• Nov. 4 — 1 p.m., Northside Community Centre YMCA
• Nov. 5 — 10 a.m., Red Deer College in Four Centres Building
• Nov. 6 — 6 p.m. Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School cafeteria
• Nov. 7 — 6 p.m., Eastview Middle School gymnasium
• Nov. 13 — 6 p.m., St. Francis of Assisi Middle School gymnasium
• Nov. 15 — 10 a.m., Radisson Hotel, 6500 67th St.