Every seat along the wall at the Sept. 10 standing committee was taken by people wanting to address council about the increasing theft problem they’ve experienced in Hinton.
Multiple break-and-enter victims stood up to voice their concerns and ask about Hinton’s plan.
Staff Sgt Chris Murphy presented the RCMP’s latest collected data regarding property crime in Hinton.
His biggest concern with property crime was break-and-enters, which have jumped from 42 in 2014 to 76 in the current year to date.
Murphy said that incidents of vehicle theft dropped slightly since last year, theft over $5,000 has stayed relatively the same over the past five years, and theft under $5,000 increased since last year but were lower than three years prior.
Possession of stolen goods, fraud, arson, and mischief to property has lingered around the same numbers over the past five years, while total property crimes have increased.
“I’m not going to minimize and say we don’t have a problem with these other areas because look at the numbers. There’s a concern in the community right now,” said Murphy.
Murphy addressed concerns brought up by citizens in the room and focused on prevention, education, and enforcement.
“One by itself will not work, we need a multi approach to deal with this issue. It’s not just as simple as somebody stealing, there are a lot of other factors,” he said.
To prevent crimes from happening, the RCMP needs help from the community and collaboration between municipalities.
“There are people committing crimes in Hinton that will turn up in Evansburg, or Whitecourt, or Edson, or Drayton Valley the very next day,” added Murphy.
During the citizens’ minute with council, Hinton resident Craig Lucas spoke up about starting a citizens on patrol group, which Murphy stated is an effective way for the public to be involved.
Often, offenders look for crimes of opportunity and they will likely move on when it’s too difficult for them to commit a crime, said Murphy.
He suggested that the public write down all their vehicle serial numbers in order to give the RCMP as much evidence as possible if they ever need to.
“The more information we have right off the beginning, the greater likelihood we have in recovering some of that property,” he said.
Murphy encouraged citizens to continue reporting crimes or suspicious activity so the RCMP can track the trends and determine the hotspots.
He emphasized that it can be difficult to apprehend criminals as they don’t follow laws and regulations like the RCMP.
“We have to do our investigations at a certain standard that the crown prosecutors are willing to prosecute them at a trial, that is our job. To say that there is nothing we can do is not acceptable at all,” said Murphy.
The RCMP work together with other local organizations to help make a change in habitual or repeat offenders, and continue to check in on those individuals over time.
The response time of the RCMP was mentioned and Murphy explained that during weekends and nights, Edmonton tracks all incoming calls north of Red Deer. Calls are prioritized based on their nature and officers are dispatched as soon as they are able to, but this can be the cause of a slower response time.
The RCMP updates their online crime map, and citizens can see where crimes are reported at hinton.ca/918/Hinton-RCMP-Crime-Map