Taking simple, every day precautions can protect Stettler and area residents from being the victims of theft, as most thefts are crimes of opportunity according to RCMP Sgt. Phil Penny.
Penny, the Stettler RCMP detachment commander, said that it’s more likely to see thieves rummage through unlocked vehicles than it is to see a thief cause damage to gain entry to a vehicle.
“The glass break(ing) causes more noise, may cause injury and is oftentimes more associated with the person attempting to get something of value that is visible.”
Keeping valuables out of sight can help prevent theft, but if valuables are stored in a trunk, in glove compartments or under seats and the doors are left unlocked, the unlocked doors “defeat the purpose” of the precautions.
“It’s a good practice to take any valuables out of the vehicle entirely, if it’s practical to do so,” Penny noted.
A lot of people in central Alberta, especially the less urban areas, don’t feel it’s necessary to lock up because they’re not in a city, but that is a mistake, Penny said.
“The most significant example I witnessed in downtown Stettler this summer was seeing a newer pickup truck parked just off Main Street, front windows rolled down and the keys in the ignition,” he said.
Both urban and rural residences have pros and cons, Penny said. In an urban centre, it’s easier for a thief to blend in, but the chances of being seen or recognized is higher. In a rural area, there is a less likely chance of being seen, but area residents are more familiar with situations that are out of place.
“We understand the mindset associated with living in a small town, but strive to educate property owners to properly secure their property in an effort to keep from being victimized,” Penny said.
In Dec. 2015, two people were linked to 10 break and enters or thefts where they accessed unlocked vehicles and garages in one night.
Property crimes are some of the hardest crimes to solve, according to RCMP. In many cases, police know who is behind the crime but do not have enough evidence to prove it in the court of law.
Even when police do have enough evidence, the process can be lengthy.
With various circumstances bogging down court proceedings, it can take more than a year after arrest before the matter winds its way through court.