Mounties are urging people to consider using new technology to help with both preventing and solving crimes in rural Saskatchewan.
A recent spike in thefts made the issue a big topic of discussion at this week’s SARM convention in Saskatoon.
On Thursday, RCMP Corporal Mel Zurevinsky spoke at the convention. He encouraged people to record suspicious activity with their smartphones.
“It’s immense what technology could do for rural crime watch and preventing crime,” Zurevinsky said.
Many rural municipalities are creating groups using the WhatsApp messaging service to communicate about suspicious activity.
”The newer generation grew up with technology, and my age group, we don’t think about grabbing the phone and taking video.”
Zurevinsky said a key to rural crime watch is simply getting to know your neighbours.
“Rural crime watch is being vigilant of what your neighbours are doing, who your neighbour is, what they’re doing out there, reporting people who you don’t [recognize] as being in your neighbourhood,” Zurevinsky said.
Zurevinsky urged people to stay safe.
“As far as chasing (suspects) down, no that is not what rural crime watch is about. We advocate that you don’t take physical action,” he said.
Meanwhile, the head of an Alberta group offered some tips for rural residents in Saskatchewan.
The Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association has 30,000 members working in five different zones across the province.
Trevor Tychkowsky, the group’s president, told Gormley on Friday that having so many eyes helps limit opportunities for criminals.
“The harder we make it for them, the more chances we’re going to push them off somewhere else,” Tychkowsky said
He said members help police by watching for suspicious activity in their day-to-day routines and reporting anything out-of-the-ordinary to police.
“We’re a passive group. ‘Passive’ meaning: people are not doing anything they wouldn’t normally do. It’s just more about the education. It’s a matter of giving [members] the education on what to look for,” Tychkowsky said.
“It’s no different from travelling home each and every day, or off to the coffee shop and really watching out for their neighbours.”