YORKTON - The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is asking for more residents in the province’s 296 RMs to volunteer with local crime watch groups.
Rural municipalities have struggled with criminal activity for years, with little to no support available due to the vast and remote nature of these areas, notes SARM, suggesting if more rural residents and landowners volunteered to join a local crime watch group it could lead to the prevention of criminal activity by providing a seamless network of eyes and ears for our police agencies to act.
Lyle Walsh is chair of the East Central Rural Crime Watch. He says the local group “is fairly active, but could always use some more people.”
The East Central group, which to-date has been focused mainly on the RM of Wallace because that is where it began, does hope to expand, said Walsh, but added “COVID sort of slowed everything down,” including recruitment and program coverage expansion.
In a SARM release Ray Orb, SARM President stated, “rural municipal landowners have been keeping a watchful eye over their land for years because the risk of crime happening and going unnoticed in remote areas is a reality they live with. So this idea of a Rural Crime Watch Association is exactly what we need for our residents. The only way we will find success with our recently established Saskatchewan Rural Crime Watch Association (SRCWA) is by members joining together to volunteer.”
Walsh said the idea is simple, with members signing up and then simply “keeping their eyes and ears open” to anything suspicious happening.
It’s not a case of actually driving grid roads on patrol, but rather members having signage indicating they are with rural crime watch, and then installing an app where they can track what is happening across the province, and post anything they see.
For example, if a truck is stolen around Moose Jaw, members would see that on the app, said Walsh, and then if they saw a truck matching the description locally, they could report it.
Similarly, if a member suspects someone might be stealing tools from parked machinery, they can post that to the app as well, said Walsh.
“It’s as simple as taking a ride with a neighbor to check the land, watching for suspicious vehicles and activities while out in your yard, using a member call list or “What's App” to report suspicious behavior in the neighborhood,” said Tim Brodt, Saskatchewan Rural Crime Watch Association President in the SARM release.
Statistics show that areas with organized crime watch programs tend to have a significant reduction in criminal activity. This includes theft of equipment and grain, vandalism, dumping of garbage, trespassing, break-and-enters, and cattle rustling.
“Rural municipalities have the opportunity to band together for a collective goal of community safety. This is a long time coming and we are happy to see this collaboration working in our RMs. Stepping up and representing rural Saskatchewan won’t take up a lot of your time and it’s a necessity in preventing rural crime,” said Orb.
This newly formed collaboration is underway with SARM, but the call for more of our members to join the initiative continues. Volunteers work together in their RMs to report suspicious activity immediately to the RCMP or 911. The need for volunteers shouldn’t go unnoticed, RMs need these volunteers' knowledge of the land and their eyes and ears for local police when they may not be in their area.
Locally anyone interested in becoming involved can go to www.eastcentralruralcrimewatch.ca or contact the RM of Wallace at (306) 782-2455.