LAC LA BICHE - While most residents were thinking about what the new year would bring, it seems local criminals were thinking about what they could take.
Lac La Biche RCMP are reporting that their most recent review of monthly activity shows a marked increase in property crimes including vehicle thefts and break and enters. On the municipal side, in a review of the entire 2022 year, Lac La Biche County peace officers report their busiest year on duty to date.
From December statistics, local RCMP say that almost a quarter of all the criminal matter calls they received in the last month of 2022 were property crimes, including thefts of vehicles, frauds and break and enters. Police say 65 or just over 200 criminal complaint calls related to stolen property issues.
"With the increase in property crime, Lac La Biche RCMP would like to remind people to lock there vehicle and all buildings on their property," said Lac La Biche RCMP Const. Cassandra Calverley, adding that winter months and freezing temperatures often see a warm-up in criminal activity. "We often see an increase of vehicle thefts when the weather is colder. This is often due to people leaving their vehicles unsecured while warming them up in the morning, or leaving them running while doing errands."
In addition to the property files, Calverley says Mounties responded to 33 person crimes involving assaults, uttering threats and harassment in December.
The total file volume in December saw 406 calls handled by the local RCMP detachment. Almost half of the calls were non-criminal, where police assisted other agencies, or performed well-being or mental health checks. Of the remaining criminal files generated in December, 36 have resulted in charges and an additional 33 remain under investigation.
Each month, the RCMP selects two crime prevention priorities based on call volume and community input. For the Lac La Biche RCMP, January will continue to see intersection safety and travel safety as highlighted areas.
Calverley offers some helpful pointers to residents this winter to better navigate area roads and intersections:
Drive for the road and weather conditions.
Provide a greater stopping distance if roads are snow or ice covered.
When travelling, let a friend, neighbour or family member know where you are going and your schedule.
Let a friend know you made it home safe if you are travelling in inclement weather.
Peace Officer end of year statistics
Lac La Biche County peace officers have also started the new year with an emphasis on traffic patrols. Peace officers continue to patrol local school zones and intersections in the municipality. Lac La Biche County's Manager of Enforcement Services Chris Clark says the start of 2023 follows a very busy 2022 for municipal peace officers.
"The year 2022 marks a record year for the number of investigations completed by the Enforcement Services Department," he tells Lakeland This Week.
According to a recently released review of their 2022 activities, the Enforcement Services Department conducted 3, 498 investigations and issued 1, 969 violation tickets for both provincial and municipal bylaw offences in 2022.