Chestermere’s RCMP and Citizen on Patrol (COP) will be partnering for a pilot project to try and reduce the stubbornly persistent rate of property crime in the city.
“We have a high rate of property crime within the city that we notice with theft from vehicles theft of motor vehicles,” said Chestermere RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Mark Wielgosz.
The new program will see clearly identified and supervised members of Chestermere’s Citizens on Patrol walking residential streets checking for and locking unsecured vehicles.
The new program comes after other educational campaigns by the RCMP have failed to make an impact on property crime rates.
“We’ve tried to spread the message as much as possible, essentially to lock it or lose it,” said Wielgosz.
“We’re not really having the desired effect that we had originally intended,” he said, “so, with the help of Citizens on Patrol, we’re rolling out a theft prevention program which is geared towards both public education but also pro-active measures to help people secure their property.”
The new theft prevention program will see COP volunteers patrolling residential streets checking for unlocked vehicles.
“If they’re not locked then they will drop off some information pamphlets in the vehicle lock the doors and they’ll move on,” said Wielgosz.
If a vehicle is running with the keys in the car or there is something of obvious value visible in the vehicle the volunteers will knock on doors to remind people to secure their belongings.
Wielgosz said that volunteers won’t lock people’s keys in their vehicles or move things in the vehicle.
“They’re not there to touch or remove or disturb anything in the vehicle whatsoever,” said Wielgosz.
The COP volunteers will all have criminal background checks completed and be operating under the supervision of an on duty RCMP member.
The volunteers will be clearly identified in high visibility vest, have identification on them and will, if challenged, call the supervising RCMP member to come and validate their activities.
The goal is to have the pilot program up and running by the end of the month with patrols happening between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and possibly morning patrols between 6 a.m. and 8a.m.
Wielgosz said that it is important to secure vehicles because there are, “individuals in our community, both from and outside the community who take advantage of those situations.”
Crime stats show that stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes so by preventing the theft of unsecured vehicles, the program could be preventing other crimes as well.
Most property crimes can be prevented and it is Wielgosz hope that this program will help to do just that.
“What we’re trying to do again is educate our public, raise awareness and help prevent crime before it starts,” he said.
The pilot program will be tracking the number of vehicles checked, how many are unsecured, and if the program has any effect on the property crime rate in Chestermere.
“It’s all about securing our residents belongings and valuables and helping to prevent crime in our community,” said Wielgosz.