Criminals are undeterred by COVID-19 so Red Deer RCMP are proactively patrolling the streets.
At about 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday, officers responded to a break and enter at the Red Deer Legion where the front door was smashed.
“Officers checked the business out and it doesn’t appear that anything was stolen. It’s still being investigated. We haven’t identified a culprit at this time,” said Red Deer RCMP Insp. Mark Groves.
Red Deer Legion president Bev Hanes said the extremely loud security alarm would have scared anyone off fairly quickly, but not before they rifled through drawers behind the front counter.
“It really doesn’t make any sense at all. If you’re closed, you’re not leaving money around,” said Hanes who was on her way to check out the damage.
She said the Legion had a few break-ins prior to downsizing last year. The landlord will take care of new damage to the door, but the legion will have to deal with the rest.
“We don’t need extra expenses right now,” Hanes said.
Groves said police have not seen a spike in break-ins at businesses shuttered due to the pandemic.
“We’re monitoring it very closely. We’re cognizant that some businesses are not operating so we’re being very proactive in those areas.
“I know many places have removed alcohol from their premises and anything valuable at this time, so (break-ins) are a wasted effort and just cause mischief and damage.”
He said vulnerable areas continue to be identified, and police are working with private security companies. Patrols have increased at malls, grocery stores, banks, industrial areas, and other locations through various times of the day.
Police are also working with City of Red Deer departments to reduce ways that thieves can make money from stolen property, he said.
“We’re using marked police cars. We’re using unmarked police cars. We’re using different strategies to keep businesses safe.”
Groves encouraged the public to call police if they see anything suspicious.
“If you see a suspicious car or person in their neighbourhood please call us. We appreciate the public’s assistance.”’
The Legion shut its doors on March 17 in response to the growing COVID-19 crisis.
In June 2018, the Legion closed to renovate and downsize to a smaller space in the same building at 2810 Bremner Ave., on the corner of Molly Bannister Drive, and officially reopened in March 2019.
The Legion sold its building and property, and is now leasing about one-third of the space to house a canteen, games room and kitchen.
While other Legions in Canada are looking at fundraising to address the drop in revenue from closing their bars, restaurants and not renting out event space, Hanes said Red Deer Legion is in a better position with the money after selling its building.
“Our Command is going to provide up to $1,000 to branches that actually need it. For us, with money in the bank, we won’t qualify.”
She said the number of visitors have declined in recent years. Second World War veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, used to be regulars at the Legion. Members have been visiting them at continuing care facilities, but that is on hold because of COVID-19.
The Red Deer Legion will look at applying for the federal government’s wage subsidy program for staff to remain on the job.
— with files from The Canadian Press