Vehicle thefts in Red Deer shot up more than 100 per cent in the first three months of 2022 compared to the same quarter last year.
According to Red Deer RCMP first quarter crime statistics, vehicle thefts rocketed to 323 from 153, a 111 per cent increase from January to March.
Provincially, thefts jumped 40 per cent, to 2,134 from 1,520.
Cpl. Troy Savinkoff, media relations officer with Alberta RCMP, said since 2018 there had been a decline in vehicle thefts in Alberta.
In Red Deer, the five-year trend showed a 39 per cent drop in motor vehicle theft, but last year thefts jumped by 20 per cent when 949 vehicles were stolen.
“Obviously it concerns us seeing it go back the other way. I’m sure we’re going to be looking at new strategies to combating these issues,” Savinkoff said.
He said he didn’t know how much COVID-19 impacted the statistics, but during the winter there tends to be a sharp rise in thefts when it first gets cold.
“A lot of offenders are people of opportunity. When they see a vehicle unsecured and running they will take advantage of that opportunity and steal your vehicle, so it’s about educating the public on not leaving an unlocked, running vehicle alone.”
Blackfalds RCMP Municipal detachment saw a staggering 500 per cent increase in vehicle thefts, during the same three months. Thefts increased to 12 from two.
Savinkoff said crime rates for smaller communities like Blackfalds are usually tied to their larger neighbour.
“They are very closely linked in a lot of ways. Offenders will move quite often into neighbouring communities.”
But it only takes a couple of offenders to make a difference to statistics in smaller communities, he said.
“What we’ve learned looking at statistics and at offenders, it only takes a few offenders to commit a large amount of crime and that’s why we really focus our crime reduction strategies on those primary offenders.”
Savinkoff said even in a city like Red Deer, there will be a core group of offenders.
Here are the RCMP’s first quarter vehicle theft statistics for central Alberta:
• Blackfalds Rural Detachment, a 245 per cent increase, from 11 in 2021 to 38 in 2022.
• Coronation Rural, a 325 per cent increase, from four to 17.
• Innisfail Municipal, a 175 per cent increase, from four to 11.
• Innisfail Rural, a 31 per cent decrease, from 13 to nine.
• Maskwacis Rural, a 12 per cent decrease, from 25 to 22.
• Olds Municipal, a 33 per cent increase, from six to eight.
• Olds Rural, a 20 per cent decrease, from five to four.
• Ponoka Municipal, a 127 per cent increase, from 11 to 25.
• Ponoka Rural, a 25 per cent decrease, from four to three.
• Rimbey Rural a 25 per cent decrease, from 12 to nine.
• Rocky Mountain House Municipal, zero per cent change, from 21 to 21.
• Rocky Mountain House Rural, a 15 per cent decrease, from 26 to 22
• Sylvan Lake Municipal, a 69 per cent increase, from 13 to 22.
• Sylvan Lake Rural, a 600 per cent increase, from one to seven.
• Stettler Municipal, a 14 per cent decrease, from seven to six.
• Stettler Rural, an 80 per cent decrease, from 10 to two.
• Sundre Rural, a 160 per cent increase, from five to 13.