Brandon Molander, from Red Deer Lock and Safe, arms an alarm at the North Red Deer store on Wednesday. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Red Deerians concerned about rising property crime, says security company owner

First quarter crime stats show 3,009 total property crimes from January to March

The owner of a Red Deer security company says people are concerned about property crimes.

The City of Red Deer released 2019 first quarter crime statistics earlier this week. The numbers showed property crimes, from January to March, are up when compared to the same time in 2018.

Kevin Engel, Red Deer Lock and Safe owner, said property crime has “become a real big issue” in past 15 years.

“Some people are getting tired of what’s going on,” said Engel. “We see it every day. We see people who do all the right things (to protect themselves) and still fall victim to it.”

Installing an alarm system is only one safeguard people can take to protect their home or business, Engel said.

“You need to put on good locks, you need to make sure you can account for your keys. Some of the break-ins we see, the people have keys,” said Engel.

“Don’t put (information) on social media if you’re going away for the weekend. Talk about it afterwards, not before you leave.

“Some people have 1,000 friends online, and if you put on there you’re heading to Banff, someone could see that and think, ‘Oh, so you’re not home all weekend.’”

RCMP statistics revealed there were 333 break and enters through the first three months of 2019. There were 239 through the same time period last year.

Other first quarter statistics:

  • Theft of motor vehicles: 377, compared to 177 in 2018;
  • Theft over $5000: 37, compared to 27 in 2018;
  • Theft under $5,000: 1,034, compared to 797 in 2018;
  • Possession of stolen goods: 159, compared to 115 in 2018;
  • Fraud: 324, compared to 253 in 2018;
  • Mischief to property: 743, compared to 521 in 2018;
  • Arson: two, compared to five in 2018.

Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, officer in charge of the Red Deer RCMP, said extreme cold weather, especially in February, contributed to some of the increases, particularly motor vehicle thefts.

“Without even seeing the stats, I knew we were going to have a bad month (in February),” he said.

“We see this every year in wintertime, as soon as it gets cold … simply because the opportunity is too great, with cars left running, for people just to jump in and leave with them.”

READ MORE: Opinion: Rising crime is cause for concern

Red Deer’s crime rate climbing

Property crime numbers started to “level off” in April, he said.

“We kind of had a bit of a spike where a few things worked against us, (such as) the extreme weather. We had a (few) more of our prolific people out and about instead of in jail, which always causes a little bit of extra pressure on us and the city,” said Grobmeier.

People have to be cautious when looking at crime stats, he added.

“It’s the same thing with the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, when you started to see those big reductions. We were obviously happy about those numbers, but we weren’t jumping up and down saying, ‘We’re good. We’ve solved it.’

“We’ve had five quarters, that’s 15 months, of decreases and we had a one quarter increase. It’s a little too early to get real up in arms about the numbers,” said Grobmeier.

Overall, there were 3,009 property crimes between January and March of this year. This number is higher than 2014 (2,605), 2015 (2,954) and 2018 (2,134), but lower than 2016 (3,778) and 2017 (4,138).

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