With crime rates increasing by 2% across the board over the last 5 years in Alberta, Ponoka residents will be encouraged to hear that crime rates have actually gone down for them in the last few years, with the exception of rural and in town property crimes.
Although there may seem like there is more crime occurring, that's largely due to the speed of sharing information on social media, and new strategies put in place to deal with crime increasing the number of busts and arrests.
Acting Detachment Commander with the Ponoka RCMP Sgt. Chris Smiley presented the crime stats from 2016 -2017 at both town and Ponoka County council this week, and he says one of the key stones of those crime reduction strategies is managing career criminals.
“A lot of times people will be released from custody on conditions and you can bet we are going to make sure we are checking those conditions. Going into the bars making sure the people who are not supposed to be there are not there, sort of a back to basics approach to police work, getting back on the street, increasing visibility, and traffic enforcement is a big part of that as well.”
Smiley says the big concern for residents is of course rural property crime.
“With rural break and enters increasing by almost 40% in both the town and county, we have had an increase in motor vehicle theft. A lot of the time those vehicles unfortunately have been left unlocked, especially in town in the cold months people will leave a vehicle running to run back into the house or into a store quickly, and thieves are opportunistic, they watch for that and they grab your vehicle.”
Smiley says they have also set up a Call Management Unit out of Edmonton to handle non-emergency calls and follow ups, freeing up street officers to continue to pursue bad guys.