Time to tackle rural crime

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Combatting the growing problem of rural crime will require a multi-pronged approach with police, government and residents themselves, but it cannot include people taking the law into their own hands.

Frustration among rural residents finding themselves the targets of thieves and criminals is understandable.

And, it’s reaching a point where serious action needs to be taken.

An Okotoks-area resident is now facing charges after shots were fired as he allegedly found two individuals rummaging through a vehicle on his property.

People should be able to feel safe on their own homes and properties, but finding someone stealing from a car shouldn’t be grounds for bringing out a firearm.

Residents also shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves while criminals run around unchecked. All levels of government need to craft a strategy to address rural crime that includes funding for more police officers, toughening up laws and courts to deal with offenders, as well as addressing addictions and other issues that are driving some to turn to crime. Any strategy must include rural residents themselves and rural crime watch groups who can be a key partner for police who have longer response times to rural properties.

This is part of the problem. Criminals know it can take 20 minutes or more for a police officer in Okotoks to make it to a Davisburg farm. It’s enough time for a crook to potentially steal a car or break into a home and get away scot-free. This, then, feeds the frustration of residents who then feeling like thieves have free rein to run through rural areas.

It’s a vicious cycle that has to be stopped. It’s time for police, courts and government to get tough on rural crime.

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