Prairie Post (West Edition)
Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association outlines key points of defence
The Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association (APRCWA) is well aware of the ever changing challenges and volume of illegal activity on private rural property.
The rural crime watch initiative really began in 1978 and as years pass it has evolved into the APRCWA. During those years there has been a constant need to change and adapt with the times.
Recently, the APRCWA has made a point to clearly outline a strategy for rural property owners to help keep their areas as safe as possible was released. The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) has come up with four strategies to assist rural property owners.
Cor De Wit, President, APRCWA, says they try to keep those outside of urban areas as informed as possible. A big thing to watch for are repeated patterns. He says the organization has nine videos on crime prevention andCPTED is referenced often.
“When a victim is targeted several times, they will in turn seek out remedies to reduce the risk of becoming another statistic. Most people know that after they are burglarized, then become a repeat victim because the criminal knows you have replaced their lost items with newer, even better quality tools, jewelry, TV and so on,” explains De Wit. “We have a web based app that is free for visitors to download any RCMP Detachment contact information if the Albertan is out and about in rural Alberta. The app will be able to supply the contact number for the nearest detachment and also offer the option to submit a crime in progress online. We have around 1,200 users per month at present.”
De Wit noted that information for the CPTED can be had over the internet. CPTED was not developed by APRCWA but rather adopted as a crime prevention educational tool. The CPTED program has been around for decades.
De Wit noted that the APRCWA has changed from not only the “eyes and ears” of rural Alberta, but has added education on crime prevention. That is where the internationally recognized CPTED principals are applied.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design strategies include:
“1. Natural Surveillance- Natural surveillance is a design concept directed at keeping intruders visible by the placement of physical features, activities and people. Implementing landscape features that allow a clear and unobstructed view of the surrounding area, like windows, lighting and trimmed greenery helps prevent hiding spots and areas that can allow someone to not be seen. Windows, lighting, security cameras increase the chance of exposure, the feeling that someone may be watching makes criminals move on. Criminals do not want to be seen, if they can be seen they can be caught.
2. Territorial Reinforcement- is a strategy that shows that there is vested interest or ownership of the area. People who live or work there, care about what happens in that area. This can be accomplished through landscaping, ditches, fencing, gates, low shrubbery, and signage.
The result is a perceived increase in the risk of criminal activity being observed, caught and punished.
3. Maintenance- Maintenance proves that space is being used as it was intended to be and that someone cares for the property. If a property becomes overgrown or is an area that has broken windows, graffiti or otherwise vandalized, it can encourage more vandalism and graffiti.
4. Natural Access Control- People are physically guided through space by the strategic design of elements such as ditches, driveways, gates, fences and paths. This controls access to the site and creates the perception that there is a risk in selecting that property. Physical and mechanical means of access control (locks, alarm systems, video or camera surveillance) can supplement natural access control measures if needed.”
De Wit said levels of criminal activity in different areas but does note that it seems to be “remoteness and access to easy targets, that does play a role. That is where CPTED principals are applied to reduce the likely hood of being a target. “
“We did run a target marketing initiative focused on the Red Deer area, which in three months that the program ran (October, November and December 2020) reduced motor vehicle thefts by 32%. Over the last six months (including January, February and March 2021), the marketing was done through Google with target words like theft, steal, and others that would trigger a 15 second video with a simple message “LOCK YOUR VEHICLES”.”
The Rural Crime Watch Association will soon be adding fraud awareness material to its Wise Owl (Fraud awareness) program. The pandemic restrictions have slowed the project but they should have some informational videos ready by early 2022.
De Wit says to visit his web address for more on CPTED:
https://www.cpted.net/A-brief-history#:~:text=The%20 CPTED%20name%20itself%20was,on%20 Defensible%20Space%20(1972).&text=The%20ICA’s%20 mission%20is%3A%20%22To,of%20CPTED%20principles%20and%20strategies.%22