Sarah and Larry Dunlop, of Farm Security Systems (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)

Sarah and Larry Dunlop, of Farm Security Systems (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)

Red Deer Home Show: Rising rural crime means big business for farm security company

Thousands of people peruse 280 vendor booths at Westerner Park

A rise in rural property crimes — whether due to spiking illegal drug use, unemployment or other factors — is paying off for at least one company at the Red Deer Home Show.

“In the last year, our business has doubled, even tripled,” said Sarah Dunlop, of Farm Security Systems, which sells surveillance cameras and other security equipment.

“Cars are being stolen… they are breaking into homes, stealing gas and other things,” said Dunlop, echoing the complaints of many rural Central Albertans as the provincial economy tumbled and crime proliferated.

Last fall, Blackfalds RCMP reported rural property crimes had nearly tripled in the first 10 months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2013. Theft, mischief, and break and enters were all up substantially, stated Blackfalds RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken Morrison, after busting a large chop shop in Lacombe County where $400,000 worth of stolen property was recovered.

Fed-up farmers and acreage owners from various regional communities have been lobbying for more police enforcement. They have formed rural crime watch groups, and reported suspicious activities to rural RCMP detachments.

While most folks become rattled upon hearing of a neighbour’s break-in, Dunlop said they mostly buy surveillance cameras after being personally victimized in their own homes.

The Calgary security equipment firm was among 280 booths at this year’s home show at Westerner Park, which featured everything from roofing and floor-coverings to lighting and landscaping.

While vendor numbers were down slightly from last year’s 300, Brandon Bouchard, president of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Central Alberta, was pleased the vast majority of businesses were optimistic enough about their 2017 prospects to return for this year’s show.

Given the cold weather, “our (public) attendance doesn’t seem to have dropped at all,” said Bouchard, who anticipated 14,000 to 15,000 people would come through the doors. “It’s a chance to get out of the house and get some new and interesting ideas.”

Among those perusing the show were Joy Dickau and her daughter, Nicole, who are re-doing their mobile home and looking at cabinetry and products to upgrade the exterior.