Beiseker RCMP see increase in rural vehicle thefts

Acme Truck Suspect

Beiseker RCMP Detachment seem to be investigating one vehicle theft after another, a wide-spread reality of the times. Monday and Tuesday, August 7 and 8th, RCMP were tracking down yet another couple of truck thefts (one in Acme and another in Linden), an abandoned stolen vehicle with a switched out license plate, as well as compiling suspect descriptions. When asked how many vehicles had been stolen as of late, RCMP Sgt. Demmon replied, “Too many.”

On Monday evening, sometime around 8 p.m., a 2002 Black Chevy truck, in Acme, was reported stolen. Thieves were captured on video and were operating a 2009 Silver Dodge truck. The following morning, Tuesday, a truck (silver Dodge) was reported to RCMP at around 11:30 a.m.) as suspiciously abandoned on Centre Street in Linden. When RCMP investigated, the truck was discovered to be a vehicle stolen from Airdrie a week ago but with altered plates that were stolen (from a vehicle in Calgary). Observed leaving the vehicle (in Linden) was a lady and a dog, both being picked up by a male driving a black truck. The abandoned vehicle had clothing inside (that had matched the description of the woman). At around this time on Tuesday, the thieves pulled into CBI in Linden, stealing a green F150 truck, owned by one of the employees. Within a couple of days, the truck stolen from Acme was found abandoned west of Acme. The owners had reported that it had only a 1/4 tank of diesel at the time it was stolen, a possible reason it was abandoned so quickly. The most visible damage to the truck was a ripped out dash. While RCMP were examining this truck with the owners, they were dispatched to yet another report of a stolen vehicle. Also, on the previous Wednesday, August 2, a truck was stolen from a Linden area farm, a white colored, 2003 GMC truck.

How are citizens and communities coping with all the vehicle thefts these many months? The answer would be with supreme frustration for this altered reality of having to be vigilant in locking up vehicles, not ignoring unusual sounds, and going beyond the comfort zone (for most people) in actually having to phone police about possible suspicious behaviour. Having a possession stolen as important as a vehicle, is inconvenient to say the least, never mind the possibilities of what could ensue with any personal information or credit cards (found inside). “Thieves do not need your password for a credit card,” said the Sgt. “They purchase small and use the tap. Convenient for you, really convenient for a thief.” Insurance rates are sure to spike as a result.

An Inconvenient New Reality

Have rural people (whether farm, acreage, or in a village) been living in a bubble of innocent, quiet living, immune to the vulgarities of big city crime? A feeling that translates to “why should we have to lock up our vehicles; we seldom have in years past,” as one victim told an officer.

While many communities hold more Citizens on Patrol meetings to increase the number of volunteer patrols, the RCMP track down some of the culprits, make arrests and then have them back out on bail. “We have identified several individuals and lay charges almost every week. Theft and break ins most often occur where there are easy pickings. Thieves have their own communication network advising from prior successes on where to find these areas of least security. Reporting these crimes on facebook gets the word out, but the thieves may be monitoring as well. Please report these crimes and suspicious activity to police first and foremost.”

The rash of thefts, in Linden and Acme, (Beiseker RCMP detachment area) have increased substantially but, it’s nothing new at all for the Airdrie Detachment and the Hwy 2 corridor and the communities all along its length, both large and small. The word is out that these quiet communities and farms are ripe with unlocked vehicles, sometimes even keys in the ignition, visible loose change and other valuables (that would prompt a break-in), along with years of trusting thy neighbour amid low vigilance in its approach to security. Being proactive means changing the word out on the street that Linden or Acme or other rural communities and farms are easy pickings. “That part is easy; don’t let thieves be successful; take away the lure. Get in the habit of locking up fuel tanks, removing keys from the ignition of any vehicle, including tractors. Lock up and do not leave valuables in the vehicle, even if they appear to be out of sight. Loose change may amount to only $5 but can really add up within a couple of hours of checking vehicles and though it may seem an unsubstantial amount, for that very reason thieves know it won’t likely get reported.” Stealing vehicles is not the act of just one or two criminals and there is no single reason. It is widespread, whether to sell parts, have a joy ride, or use it in the course of committing another crime (whether robbery or drug deals). “Some of these criminals (super charged on drugs) can go three to six days without a break before they crash. We (as officers) can’t do that.”

RCMP want to make the message clear, however, about vigilantism. “It’s bad enough you are a victim, but then suddenly in a moment of defiance, you can get hurt or worse. Charges can work both ways. A better idea would be to put pressure on your MLA for more drug treatment facilities. A jail term is sometimes just a delay for that criminal but when he/she gets out, they are still an addict, which perpetuates crime.”