Police stats show 2014 property theft increase in Eckville

Property theft is the most common crime police dealt with in Eckville last year, according to Sylvan Lake RCMP

Property theft is the most common crime police dealt with in Eckville last year, according to Sylvan Lake RCMP Staff Sgt. Gary Rhodes, who presented 2014 crime statistics to Eckville town council Jan. 26.

There were 36 cases of property theft reported in 2014 — an increase from 17 in 2013.

Rhodes said criminals steal property they can easily access, such as valuables left visible in unlocked cars, as well as quads, snowblowers and lawnmowers left outside in the open and not stored in a locked garage or shed.

To avoid being a victim of property theft, Rhodes said people need to ensure their valuables are stored and locked away out of sight.

“The vehicles are a big one,” he said. “Lock up your vehicles and don’t leave your keys in your vehicle while it’s running and unlocked. Secure the property, and depending on what it is, keep it out of sight. Keep your vehicles in the garage.”

To help lower the number of thefts, police patrol the streets keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. Rhodes said that’s had some effect.

“It’s usually organized crime of small groups of people who are usually in their twenties,” he said.

There were 23 cases of suspicious persons reported last year, which Rhodes said is an indication that people are phoning the police and letting them know when they see someone or something suspicious.

“We go out and talk to that suspicious person,” he said. “We encourage people to report suspicious behaviour.”

Mischief to property was among the other crimes reported in 2014. Last year’s 26 cases were a slight increase over the 25 in 2013.

There were 10 assault cases reported throughout the year, with the same number being reported in 2013.

Six cases of uttering threats were reported in 2014, with just two cases reported in 2013.