Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jul 2017
Source: Medicine Hat News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Alberta Newspaper Group, Inc.
Author: Peggy Revell
Page: A3


Property crimes of all sorts have increased in 2016, according to
statistics included within the Medicine Hat Police's 2016 annual
report published last week - numbers police say are linked together
with the increased amount of meth and opiates being seen in the city.

"The biggest thing is thefts of convenience," said Insp. Brent
Secondiak of the MHPS. "They will take stuff to make money that's
convenient for them ... they won't do a lot of work for it."

"They will steal stuff from vehicles that are left open, they'll steal
stuff from bicycles left in the yard."

According to the report, break and enters of businesses have risen
from 31 cases in 2014, to 55 in 2015, and 83 in 2016. Break and
entries to residences have risen from 131 cases in 2014 to 159 in
2015, to 220 in 2016. Theft over $5,000 has increased from 20 cases in
2014 to 29 in 2015, and 45 in 2016. Theft under $5,000 has risen from
647 cases in 2014 to 717 in 2015, and 915 in 2016.

The increase in property crimes is directly related to drugs, said
Secondiak - as the city has experienced an "unprecedented" increase in
seizures of both methamphetamine and heroin.

"(Meth is) a very expensive drug and they'll do almost anything to
find the money to get it," said Secondiak. Many of those being charged
with property crimes are commonly known to police as being involved
with the drug subculture.

"Typically they're taking whatever it is and they're either trading it
for drugs to the trafficker," he said. Or the items are sold using
online classified sites like Kijiji, or Facebook groups where Hatters
come together to sell their second-hand items. Stolen items like
drivers' licences can be used for fraud.

"We actually don't see as much from the pawnshops anymore;
historically that was the big one," said Secondiak, saying these
stores have stepped up their game in this respect.

Most of the theft-over-$5,000 cases are that of stolen vehicles,
explained Secondiak.

"We do recover most of our vehicles that are stolen," he said.
"They're used to commit other crimes, sell drugs, commit break and
enters and then the vehicles are ditched - and that happens

It's why people shouldn't leave their vehicles unlocked, running, or
with keys inside or easily found, said Secondiak, and why people need
to remove valuables from their vehicles, keep doors locked and close
their yard gates.

"It's really theft of opportunity, so the public can do a lot to help
us with that," he said.
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