At 1 AM last Monday a gang of thieves broke into my pub.
They were there for seven minutes. Got away with perhaps $1,600 worth of cash and liquor but did around $4,000 in damage. The morons stole Redbull and Sourpuss while leaving the scotches behind. We are not talking about polished criminals here.
They smashed out all of my cameras and stole every bit of electronics that could be found within the place including the box which held the video data (we of course have cloud storage now).
They tied a tow rope around my ATM and tried to yank it out of the place with a truck. They failed. They then fled when the floodlights came on. Video from my neighbor’s camera caught them leaving in their truck. It was three men and a woman.
Undeterred by their experience at my pub, these losers then traveled to Bragg Creek where they attempted to break in to the Powderhorn Saloon. They failed to get in but damaged the back door and camera of course as can be seen below.
After the Powderhorn attempt, the thieves went to Rockies Tavern and Grill in the same mall. They did manage to gain entry and as with my pub, they did massive damage along with stealing a small amount of cash and liquor.
As if all of these bold efforts were not enough, these thieves returned two nights later and did it again!
They attempted to gain entry into the Powderhorn Saloon through the front window this time. They smashed glass but didn’t get in.
They then went to Rockies Tavern and Grill again and managed to steal a few more things along with doing more damage.
Having destroyed the security systems the night prior, they knew they would not be noticed.
They skipped my pub on the second round. Likely due to their initial close call.
In rural Alberta for households and businesses this kind of story is getting all too common. Criminals emboldened by a weak justice system and an overloaded police system are increasingly robbing citizens blind and people are getting more than a little fed up.
The gang who hit the pubs last week were typical. They are desperate (likely addicts), stupid and dangerous in their stupidity and desperation. If and when a business owner or homeowner confronts these guys, it is going to be an ugly scene for somebody.
To their credit, the local RCMP are taking this very seriously and they are working hard to catch this bunch. They know how dangerous this is becoming. They have a lot of square miles to cover however and limited resources. Meanwhile a home is broken into almost daily in the MD of Foothills. Thieves are hitting rural properties day and night out here.
There is only so much we can do. We have security systems but with an average police response time of 40 minutes, they are of limited value.
We secure our items. We put up bars and gates. When thieves use winches on stolen trucks to tear things down though, these deterrents become useless.
I have listened to urban folks at times saying “Its just stuff. Let it go!”.
Its not just “stuff”. These are items that we worked and paid for. These are the tools of our trades. These are items with sentimental value. We can’t and won’t just “let it go”.
Insurance companies are beginning to refuse coverage to some rural residents because they have been hit too many times by thieves. As a business owner, I have to either pay a fortune in premiums or carry a very large deductible in order to remain in business while being insured.
We can’t just let our property continue to be stolen.
The state can’t protect us and our items and we are going to protect ourselves no matter how many times we are told not to so lets start modelling policy to reflect that reality.
Rural crime is a complex and growing issue. Contributing factors include the addiction epidemic, aboriginal issues, modern means of fencing stolen goods and the removal of the ability for citizens to defend themselves and their property.
All of those issues need to be addressed if we want to see a reduction in rural crime.
The Kenney government is taking rural crime seriously. I was impressed when I went to see Miranda Rosin and Doug Schweitzer speak in our area. Schweitzer understands that as an urban dweller that he needs to learn what we are dealing with and he is making the effort. The questionnaire given to us hits the right buttons as well where there is room for improvement.
All of the above measures will help. It will take time before these kind of measures make an impact on the crime rates.
The addition of thousands of new addiction treatment beds was welcome as well.
Castle laws would help. Whether they exist formally you can rest assured that such laws exist in our minds and moral codes out here so we may as well enshrine them.
Crime is an issue everywhere but in rural areas the risk is more acute.
We feel vulnerable and victimized. We are running out of options. We would rather not confront criminals but we know that unless we do so, the criminals will have our way with us.
My pub is only one minute from my home. If the alarm goes off again you can bet that I will respond in person. I am not a trained law enforcement type so my measure of force may not be well judged. I will put the safety of my person and protection of my property ahead of the safety of criminals and it may end very poorly for somebody.
Rest assured that rural residents and business owners are thinking the same way.
We need to act on this rural crime issue and we need to do so fast.
Tensions are high out here and unless some changes happen soon, we are going to see tragedy occur. It is not a matter of if somebody gets killed. It will be a matter of when.