ATHABASCA – Athabasca RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance as they investigate break-ins to numerous cabins in Calling Lake over the winter and are offering tips to property owners to make sure their little slices of lakefront paradise aren’t ruined by criminal opportunists.
RCMP were called to the vicinity of Calling Lake Drive in the hamlet May 11 in response to a complaint that several residences, sheds and garages had been broken into, but it is not clear when the break-ins may have occurred.
All homeowners who were affected were contacted soon after, but police are hoping the public will be able to provide information as to anything they may have seen to help locate those responsible.
“We do seem to have a spike of people who have been away from their properties for the entire winter and come back and find that someone has been on their property,” Cpl. Alan Caldwell told a virtual town hall of about 40 people May 12. “With the heavy winter that we've had some of the properties aren't accessed at all when there's high snowfall and very cool weather. So, we are probably going to, particularly right now, have a slight spike with most being discovered, but whether they’re exactly recent is not always determinable.”
Const. Austin Krysa also provided a few tips for cottage and cabin dwellers, telling those in attendance to follow the three ‘L’ principle — lock, light and landscape.
“The first thing is to make sure your valuables are out of sight,” he said. “Take them inside or if you can't, for whatever reason and they need to be in the vehicle, make sure they're under the seat or in the glove box and out of sight. And then simply just make sure your property is locked up whether it's your home or your vehicle.”
Surveillance, motion detectors and extra lighting are also important to deter criminals. As is ensuring proper lines of sight for the equipment by removing excessive vegetation.
“Lighting is a big thing. To be quite honest, the brightest lights you can is always the best policy. Light the property as best you can to get rid of all of the dark spots and shadowed areas,” said Krysa.
Unfortunately, said S/Sgt. Mark Hall, sometimes it will never be enough. If your property is still broken into, he requested victims follow a few simple requests to aid police in their investigations.
“For instance, if you find your property is broken into, you don't want to disturb the area, specifically if there are footprints around there,” said Hall. “We want to be able to make this as much of an untouched area as possible so we can utilize our forensic section to maybe find fingerprints, to find DNA, to find, you name it. We can look for it if we have access to it and it hasn't been disturbed, then we have a better fighting chance to find somebody that is responsible for that.”
In 2021, 10,529 reports of break and enters were reported in Alberta RCMP jurisdictions.
See more on the virtual town hall in the May 24 edition of Town and Country This Week.
If you have any information about the break-ins at Calling Lake or know who may be responsible, please contact the Athabasca RCMP at 780-675-4252. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the "P3 Tips" app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.