Rural residents need to work together to prevent crime, says the leader of a local crime watch group.
“People need to be vigilant. People need to be looking out for each other,” said Ken Wigmore, a Lacombe County councillor and president of the Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch.
“They need to get their neighbours’ phone numbers and contact information. In this age of social media, we can alert people of what to watch for without getting out of our armchair.”
Reports of crime within the crime watch group were a little slow throughout the summer, but “it seems to be flaring up, and it’s getting a little bit worse now,” Wigmore said.
“There seems to be a group that comes from somewhere and they go through an area and they do a lot of break-ins. Then the police arrest a few of them and the group moves on to another area and the police chase them over there.”
Wigmore said areas west of Lacombe and Red Deer have been “hit a lot” lately.
“We’re connected with the Rimbey crime watch group and … there seems to be a lot going on in that area. Around here, I’m sure there is lots going on too, but we may not be notified about it.”
Municipalities and police have been supportive of the crime watch group, he added.
“My feeling is the RCMP are doing all they can,” he said, adding people need to report suspicious vehicles or happenings.
“We used to have meetings with the RCMP … on our crime watch, but since COVID, they’re kind of far and few between.”
Sometimes, crime can be dangerous and costly for rural residents, he said.
“Out by Bentley, there was a guy who broke into a house brandishing a shotgun, shot up the place while the homeowner was there. Then he went out to the garage and stole the guy’s truck – he didn’t even open the garage door; he drove through it.”
It’s important for people to look out for themselves and each other, “especially with Christmas coming,” said Wigmore.
“Don’t leave anything out that you think (thieves) may want. Put your stuff away and lock your doors,” he said.
“Be aware, watch your animals, close your gates, look after yourself, look after your neighbours.”