Rocky tops crime rate

Rocky Mountain House reported the highest crime rate among eight Central Alberta communities last year, according to Statistics Canada figures.

Rocky Mountain House reported the highest crime rate among eight Central Alberta communities last year, according to Statistics Canada figures.

The town of just over 7,200 people came out on top when analyzing crime rates per 100,000 people, a method used to compare data of various-sized communities. For Criminal Code incidents except traffic, Rocky led the way with a rate of 22,603 per 100,000 population, followed by Stettler with 16,863, Ponoka with 15,290, Sylvan Lake with 10,802, Red Deer with 10,193, Olds with 10,167, Lacombe with 6,902 and Three Hills with 5,401.

The rate does not reflect the actual number of crimes, but the rate per population.

Statistics Canada recently released the information, which came from municipal police reports in 2008.

When looking at the total number of crimes, the community with the largest population has the most — Red Deer, which had 10,716 reports. Rocky followed with 1,693, Ponoka had 1,227, Sylvan Lake had 1,207, Stettler had 961, Lacombe and Olds at 803 each, and 518 in Three Hills.

Rocky Mountain House also had the highest rates for violence, assault, sexual assault, theft of motor vehicles, theft under $5,000 and impaired driving.

Rocky Mayor Jim Bague said he was concerned with the results, but wondered if it included the entire area that Rocky RCMP detachment covers, including three First Nations reserves and west to the border of Banff National Park.

“It’s not really surprising then that we’re elevated, but I’d like to look at the figures further,” Bague said. “And obviously (I’d) like to talk to the RCMP and get their feel on it. But definitely, it is a concern.”

The Rocky area had a fair number of quad thefts in the last year, so that may account for a higher rate of theft crime, Bague said.

Rocky Mountain House RCMP was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

Red Deer was the only community to show homicide and attempted murder figures. Last year, the city of nearly 90,000 people had three reports of homicide and one attempted murder.

Red Deer and Stettler shared the podium for robbery rates — 105 incidents per 100,000 people. Third place fell to Ponoka with 75, followed by Rocky Mountain House at 67, Sylvan Lake at 54, 26 for Lacombe, 13 for Olds and Three Hills at none.

Stettler had the highest break-in rate, with 2,000 incidents per 100,000 people, compared with second-place Rocky at 1,081. Stettler, a town of more than 5,800 people, also placed first for frauds, total drug offences and cannabis offences.

“As far as I know, crime went up about 15 per cent in (Stettler) 2008 over 2007,” said Stettler RCMP Sgt. Rowland Schmidt. “Overall calls for service, including non-criminal things, went down about the same amount, in town and out of town . . . but it would surprise me to learn that we surpassed other communities around us.”

Sylvan reported the highest rate for theft over $5,000.

Lacombe was top for drug possession, with 507 reported incidents per 100,000 population.

Three Hills was consistently at the bottom when it came to the following crime rates — violence, sexual assault, assault, robbery, property crimes, theft under $5,000, frauds, impaired driving and all drug-related crimes. It was in the middle of the pack for break-ins and theft over $5,000, and tied for second last for motor vehicle theft. Three Hills is the smallest community of the eight with just over 3,300 residents.

Here are the 2008 actual crime report figures for each community, with numbers in brackets.

• Violence — Three Hills (56), Olds (85), Stettler (91) Lacombe (95), Ponoka (137), Rocky Mountain House (138), Sylvan (160), Red Deer (1,239)

• Homicide — Red Deer (3)

• Attempted murder — Red Deer (1)

• Assaults — Three Hills (45), Olds (81), Stettler (85), Lacombe (92), Ponoka (130), Rocky Mountain House (132), Sylvan Lake (154), Red Deer (1,117)

• Sexual assaults — Olds (2), Stettler (3), Ponoka (4), Three Hills (5), Lacombe (7), Sylvan Lake (9), Rocky Mountain House (10), Red Deer (59)

• Robbery — Three Hills (0), Olds (1), Lacombe (3), Rocky Mountain House (5), Stettler (6), Ponoka (6), Sylvan Lake (6), Red Deer (110)

• Property crimes — Three Hills (236), Olds (256), Ponoka (339), Lacombe (342), Stettler (418), Sylvan Lake (461), Rocky Mountain House (517), Red Deer (4,621)

• Break-ins — Olds (31), Ponoka (46), Lacombe (52), Three Hills (63), Sylvan Lake (65), Rocky Mountain House (81), Stettler (114), Red Deer (699)

• Motor vehicle theft — Lacombe (26), Three Hills (28), Olds (28), Ponoka (33), Stettler (37), Sylvan Lake (68), Rocky Mountain House (82), Red Deer (548)

• Theft over $5,000 — Olds (1), Ponoka (3), Rocky Mountain House (4), Lacombe (6), Stettler (6), Three Hills (8), Sylvan Lake (18), Red Deer (56)

• Theft under $5,000 — Three Hills (122), Olds (154), Lacombe (201), Ponoka (202), Stettler (226), Sylvan Lake (242), Rocky Mountain House (306), Red Deer (2,689)

• Frauds — Three Hills (12), Rocky Mountain House (25), Stettler (27), Olds (34), Ponoka (35), Sylvan Lake (42), Lacombe (43), Red Deer (436)

• Impaired driving — Three Hills (21), Stettler (58), Olds (76), Ponoka (84), Lacombe (90), Rocky Mountain House (101), Sylvan Lake (118), Red Deer (389)

• Drugs — Three Hills (6), Olds (29), Rocky Mountain House (39), Ponoka (43), Stettler (55), Sylvan Lake (61), Lacombe (74), Red Deer (331)

• Cannabis (marijuana) — Three Hills (3), Olds (24), Rocky Mountain House (25), Ponoka (27), Stettler (41), Lacombe (65), Red Deer (171)

• Possession of drugs — Three Hills (3), Rocky Mountain House (17), Ponoka (19), Olds (21), Stettler (25), Sylvan Lake (39), Lacombe (59), Red Deer (158)

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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