Pubdate: Mon, 20 Feb 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Rob Davis
Page: A3
Column: Police Beat



Last week we made headlines with a record drug bust after more than
$1.2 million in drugs, cash, weapons, drug manufacturing equipment and
vehicles were seized by the Lethbridge members of the Alberta Law
Enforcement Response Team.

I commend the members of the LPS and the RCMP who make up the
integrated Lethbridge team for their great work.

In the news conference, I was asked how this seizure impacts the city.
Beyond preventing the obvious drug use, sales and potential
fatalities, I mentioned how drugs and addictions are related to
property crimes. I know many citizens have been victims of car
prowling and residential break-ins to their homes, garages and sheds.
Many businesses have also been hit by very organized thieves as was
clear when a car dealership had dozens of wheels and rims stolen from
new cars on their lot not too long ago.

The point is, all of these thefts of property are done to convert the
property into cash. Much is to feed addictions, some will be because
that is how people choose to make money, and some will be tied to
organized crime groups who view the thefts, fencing, sale and
conversion of stolen property to cash as part of an elaborate
production line.

Last week, I was at a meeting in Calgary with the other Chiefs of
Police from throughout Alberta and we are all seeing a spike in our
property crimes. Everything from car prowlings, residential break and
enters and vehicle thefts to commercial break-ins, heavy equipment
thefts and other elaborate mass thefts is going somewhere. It has been
my experience over 26 years that many of the items of greater value
are not staying with the local addict or thief or their drug dealer.
Property is bulky, has identifying numbers and brings heat as it
accumulates. Cash is the preferred commodity. So, like other places I
have worked, there is a good probability that items of significant
value are going to a person or group who acts as a fence - a warehouse
or clearing house if you will - to move the stolen items locally,
regionally, nationally or internationally. My experience has also been
that the bigger ticket items will eventually intersect with an
organized crime group.

Speaking from my experience in other jurisdictions, people often
dismiss property crime as "that's why I have insurance." That may be,
but this attitude has a lot of negative impact on all of us. The
obvious is that it does nothing to stop the cycle of theft fuelling
addictions, so we all have to continue to deal with the asinine
thefts. My other observation is when citizens adopt a "who cares"
attitude, to a degree our courts may take a softer position on
penalties for property crime thinking that because there was no
physical harm there is less impact on the victims. Thankfully, it
appears Alberta courts have not taken that position. Finally, the one
that impacts us all is it causes our insurance rates to spike.

Based on the size of the recent drug bust, I am confident there is a
significant stolen property side that we have yet to uncover in the
city and surrounding area, or linked to a larger city. That
correlation between stolen property-cash-drugs has been the norm
everywhere else I have served and we need your help. You can help us
by using some common sense and alerting us to suspicious transactions.
If you can buy a piece of heavy equipment that should be $100,000 for
$30,000 - there's likely a reason. If you can buy a Super Duty truck
for half the price, there's likely a reason. If you have to pick-up
your kijiji purchase at a storage unit full of similar items - there's
likely a reason.

That information helps the police do our job and disrupting that
stolen goods-cash-drugscycle will give all stakeholders some precious
time to try and address the addictions plaguing and killing people.

LPS has a full time Priority Crimes Unit and the officers staffing
this unit do an outstanding job at addressing property crime in the
city. We also have outstanding LPS officers in ALERT who are doing
great work in our own backyard. Part of their mandate is to tackle
anything that involves organized crime. What we need are the tips, the
information to expose those people warehousing and fencing your stolen
items. If you have any information on who is behind any thefts in
southern Alberta, where stolen property is being taken in, warehoused
or sold, we would appreciate your tips and will investigate. Tips can
be reported to police at 403328-4444, or if you wish to remain
anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1800-222-8477 or submit anonymous
Crime Stopper tips online at
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MAP posted-by: Matt