Guests speakers Lacombe County Senior Peace Officer Julian Veuger and Red Deer County Senior Peace Officer Bob Dixon present ‘The Life of a County Peace Officer: The Lighter Side’ at the BARCWS AGM last Thursday.

Crime awareness priority for Benalto Crime Watch Society

The Benalto and Area Rural Crime Watch Society’s AGM took place last Thursday, and saw Yvette Brideau announce that she will remain

The Benalto and Area Rural Crime Watch Society’s AGM took place last Thursday, and saw Yvette Brideau announce that she will remain president for another year.

She’s hoping to see more volunteers step up in the coming year.

“After a while, you may want new insight and new programs, but volunteers are hard to get,” she said. “Our five directors are voted in and we have two vacancies. We’ve always had good support and good directors.”

The society makes education in crime awareness a priority, with the motto, ‘Be aware, dare to care and know your community.’

“We know our community, we communicate, we have rural crime watch signs on our property and we’re alert of anything suspicious,” said Brideau.

The society’s crime prevention program has had emergency response teams, dog handlers and collision reconstruction experts as guest speakers at recent meetings to inform and educate on crime awareness and crime prevention, Brideau said.

“I think it’s a presence and a perception if someone comes in with an idea in the rural community and they think they can get away with something. If they see a sign, they know that we’re active, and it’s a deterrent.”

Brideau said that common crimes in the area include vandalism and theft. Even with a low crime percentage, however, she encourages people have to help themselves by taking responsibility for their own property.

“If there’s theft of a vehicle and the keys are still in it and the doors are unlocked, the owners have a responsibility to take care of their property, and that’s what we try to teach and inform,” she said. “It’s more of people speeding through playground and school zones — that’s a big infraction here.”

Brideau assures that crime can occur in any rural community, and she encourages people to be aware of it and how to prevent it.

“We shouldn’t be complacent about what could happen, because it’s easy to get on a route to somewhere fairly quickly,” she said. “It’s not to be complacent, it’s to take ownership, to take responsibility and to know your neighbour.”

The society currently has between 125 and 150 members. All members are required to complete a basic RCMP clearance check.

“You’re informed about crime awareness and crime prevention, because we are the eyes and the ears,” said Brideau.