Serious crime levels falling in Lacombe

Lacombe’s police department was busier last year, but saw levels for most common offences drop.

Lacombe’s police department was busier last year, but saw levels for most common offences drop.

The department took 4,998 calls last year, a 13 per cent jump from the 4,434 that came in 2010, recent statistics show.

On the plus side, crime levels in most key categories were down.

Crimes against persons dropped from 203 in 2010 to 149 last year — a nearly 26 per cent decline.

The number of motor vehicle thefts reported sank to 24 from 90 a year earlier, a 67 per cent drop.

Break and enters were cut in half to 30 from 60 in 2010.

Fraud offences went to 46 from 60 and drug crimes dropped to 50 from 73.

Police Chief Gary Leslie said demographics might play a role. The community has a young population and the 15-member force has worked hard to connect with residents.

“We are a 24-hour police service that’s very proactive. We’re big on community-based policing,” said Leslie.

Lacombe Police Service has also embraced a staff resource officer program to bring local students and police officers together.

One crime category that is not following the trend and shot up last year is theft under $5,000. Leslie said “car prowling” is to blame. Thieves, mostly young offenders, go from vehicle to vehicle taking whatever they can get.

It’s become a big enough problem that police have launched the “Hide It, Lock It or Lose It.” program to encourage residents to protect their valuables.

To get a better sense of community policing priorities, an online survey was set up in the spring of 2011. It showed crimes against persons, scams and traffic offences were the top three local concerns.

A Lacombe Police Service member sits on the Provincial Police Advisory Committee dealing with domestic violence and other related groups as part of an effort to deal with crimes against people.

A four-month pilot project to dedicate a community peace officer to enforcing traffic laws was recently turned into a permanent position by Lacombe city council.

Dealing with scams is complicated because most originate outside the community. Leslie said police have tried to educate the public to be aware.

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