An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
I WAS SADDENED by the news story about rising property crime in Barnhartvale. I lived in both rural and what could be called suburban Barnhartvale for more than 20 years and I have a soft spot in my heart for it.
Back then, it was one of those places where people didn’t feel it necessary to lock their doors at night or when they were away from home, and you never heard of anything being stolen.
That’s obviously changed and it’s a shame when people no longer feel safe but Barnhartvale isn’t the only bedroom community facing dramatic increases in crime.
Look at cluster communities all around the region and it’s the same thing. Community Facebook pages are alive with reports of stolen property — anything that isn’t tied down including cars and trucks.
The experts tell us that rural and suburban areas have become importers of crime from adjacent urban centres.
It’s the spillover effect. As criminal activity in cities becomes more competitive, the crooks go looking for new opportunities. The Barnhartvales of the world are perfect targets — quiet, unsuspecting, lots of tempting stuff left in carports and yards.
Things like lawnmowers, power tools, equipment and bicycles, all available. And that’s just outside. And in more rural areas, there’s not likely to be any watchful neighbours close enough to keep an eye on suspicious activity.
So what to do about it? Police offer the usual advice — keep everything under lock and key and keep an eye out. But that’s not enough.
Earlier this year, the Alberta government announced $10 million in funding to hire more RCMP in rural areas and to set up district-level crime reduction units. Police say it’s working, with rural property crime down 11 per cent in just six months.
It’s time for the City’s police committee to get serious about rural property crime, and look at a co-ordinated and concentrated strategy to deal with it, and demand action from Victoria.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.