Lethbridge police targeting active property crime offenders

Members of the Lethbridge Police Priority Crimes Unit and Lethbridge ALERT have initiated a targeted operation – Project Street Sweeper – to apprehend chronic offenders engaged in property crime, reduce incidents and recover stolen items.

Spin-off crimes from the drug trade are plaguing the city and others across the province and beyond. Property crime such as break and enters and thefts from vehicles are often rooted in the drug trade with many offenders stealing to feed their addiction or pay off drug debts.

Over the past three years Lethbridge has seen a significant increase in property crime which is affecting the quality of life of law-abiding citizens. Thefts have increased by 33 per cent and break and enters by 43 per cent. Further, between January 1 and May 3, 2017, 139 vehicles were reported stolen compared to 65 during the same period in 2016 – a 113 per cent increase.

According to statistics from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, stolen vehicles cost Canadian citizens close to $1 billion per year. Vehicle thefts occur for various reasons – to sell abroad, have their VINs falsified to sell to unsuspecting consumers, be dismantled for parts or simply used for joyriding or in the commission of other offences.

“With the warmer summer weather we know incidents of property crime will continue to spike and Project Street Sweeper has been initiated to ramp up our existing enforcement strategies,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Walper, Lethbridge ALERT. “But we also need the community’s help.”

Property crime is a crime of opportunity, so by reducing the opportunity people can reduce their risk of being victimized.
-Never leave anything of value inside your vehicle in plain sight – cash ( even small change for parking meters), electronics, sunglasses, clothing, fuel cards, etc. are all commonly targeted  item
-Always lock your vehicle and ensure the windows are up
-Never leave an unattended vehicle running or with the keys inside – even if you will only be gone for a minute
-Park in a garage or well-lit area
-When you are working in your backyard, make sure the doors to your home are locked as you may not hear or see someone enter
-Always keep bicycles, lawn mowers, tools, etc. in a locked shed or garage
-Install motion sensor lights at all entrances to your home and garage as criminals prefer to rely on the cover of darkness and a bright light coming on will often thwart a break-in

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Staff Sgt. Walper will be available at 1:30 p.m. at the police station. This will be the only opportunity for on-camera interviews.