Trio arrested in Big Valley vehicle theft spree

One adult and two youths have been arrested in connection with the theft of five vehicles in the Big Valley area

One adult and two youths have been arrested in connection with the theft of five vehicles in the Big Valley area during the month of January.

According to Stettler RCMP constable Bill Lewadniuk, all of the stolen vehicles had been unlocked with the keys inside. One was running at the time of the theft.

The three accused are also facing multiple charges of fraud and one charge of break and enter to a Stettler residence. Lewadniuk said the trio would break into unlocked vehicles to steal identification and cheques and would write them and bring them to local banks.

“The banks were very helpful,” he noted.

Police continue to investigate the actions of the accused and Lewadniuk noted that a possible charge of forgery and additional charges of fraud may be laid.

Botha collision results in charges

A collision in Botha on Township Road 38-4 and Range Road 19-4 didn’t result in any injuries but one driver is facing a fine for failing to proceed safely. On March 6, police responded to the collision. The two vehicles collided while travelling through the intersection, sending one vehicle off the road to hit a Telus box and an ATCO fence.

School lockdown

The RCMP will be holding a lockdown drill this Thursday as part of its School Action for Emergencies (SAFE) program. The program, a nationwide program initiated after several occurrences of school violence both in Canada and in the United States, has police agencies working together with school boards to make a database of information about schools in their communities.

As the school liaison, Lewadniuk has been entering floor plans and action plans into the database for the past year, and this will be the first drill for the Stettler schools.

“If something were to happen, it wouldn’t just be our police responding,” he said. “Action teams from Red Deer and other communities would come in.”

While local police are familiar with the layout of the school and where gathering points are in evacuations, police from out of the community wouldn’t have had the same access and therefore would not be.

Having the information on a database that can be accessed by those responders increases the police’s ability  to respond and defuse situations quickly and safely, Lewadniuk noted.

The drill itself is not frightening in any way, Lewadniuk said. A letter went out to parents this week from the constable to let them know about the drill as well so parents wouldn’t be alarmed.

When the alarm sounds, students will close up their classrooms and lockdown as if it were an emergency, but that is all.

“We’ll be there checking how long it takes to get to a secure state,” Lewadniuk noted. “We’ll be able to see if there’s anything we need to tweak or fix (in our action plan).”

While the schools in Stettler County haven’t had to lock down due to violence inside their walls as long as Lewadniuk can recall, they have at times had to go to “hold and secure” because of incidents in the community. During hold and secure status, school kids cannot leave the building, even for recess.

The last hold and secure happened late 2014 after an armed robbery at the now-closed Erskine Liquor Store. The nearby Erskine School went into hold and secure until students were either picked up by parents or on the buses heading home.